Chef graduates in bedside ceremony

TIM DONOGHUE
Last updated 05:00 05/04/2014
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ

Dr John Kramer is receiving a doctorate from Massey University at Mary Potter Hospice where he is currently getting care for bone cancer.

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A terminally ill chef will have his doctoral degree conferred on him at a special bedside graduation ceremony today.

Massey University chancellor Chris Kelly will confer a PhD in health sciences on John Kramer, 73, who has bone cancer, at Newtown's Mary Potter Hospice in front of 25 family members and friends, including a group of chefs.

"Doctor today, gonged tomorrow," Kramer joked when reflecting on his mortality.

And he won't be getting carried away with his new title: "I don't call the doctors who care for me doctor, so I don't see why they should call me doctor. I am John Kramer."

He is quietly proud of having achieved the doctorate - which he says he started as a joke - to go with his bachelor of education and a master's in business management.

The Dutch former restaurateur, who cooked for the Queen and the Shah of Iran during royal visits to New Zealand, rates the food at the hospice a nine out of 10.

"I get a tray with a little flower arrangement on it. There's a hot towel with it. This is where the hospice is so good. They give you the dignity of living. In my eyes, that is phenomenal."

He felt like ham sandwiches for lunch yesterday, and received them. "Nothing is too much trouble here. There's a drinks trolley which comes around."

He is also a former senior lecturer of catering at Wellington Polytechnic, and sees his life as having been a bridge between the worlds of academia and practicality.

As for the future, he has not lost his sense of realism. "The bone cancer is munching away at my resources. I have had the most wonderful life with my wife Jan."

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- The Dominion Post

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