John L. Kraft, a former aide to Governor William T. Cahill who helped launch the specialized field of bond advisory and public finance law in New Jersey, died June 28. He was 86 years old.
During his legal career, Kraft served as bond attorney for 18 New Jersey counties, as well as hundreds of municipalities, school boards, and state and local authorities.
Cahill appointed Kraft as his associate attorney less than two weeks after becoming governor in January 1970. This position, now known as Deputy Chief Counsel, was second in command behind Cahill’s Chief Counsel, Pierre garven.
Kraft developed expertise in public finance shortly after graduating from Yale Law School and spent three years at Hawkins, Delafield and Wood, a New York law firm that handled most of the work. bond advisory for the State of New Jersey. He then moved to another New York firm that handled state bond attorney work, Mudge Rose.
Among his major projects while working in the governor’s office was financing the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority’s construction of a stadium, arena, and horse racing track in the Meadowlands.
He left the Cahill administration in 1971 and founded Kraft & Hughes, the first New Jersey law firm to specialize in bond advisory work. He then brought his expertise to Kraft & McManimon, Lowenstein Sandler and Waters, McPherson, McNeill. He was the first bond advisor to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
Prior to joining the governor’s office, Kraft had been a member of the Matawan Republican Club. He had been a top fundraiser for Governor Tom Kean in 1981, and he had won over $1.1 million in EDA legal fees in 1982.
The Irvington native served in the US Air Force between Georgetown University and Yale Law School.
A graduate of Georgetown University, Kraft first worked at Toner, Crowley, Woelper & Vanderbilt, a Newark firm where future New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Arthur Vanderbilt had practiced. His move to Mudge Rose in 1969 had immediately followed the departure of Richard Nixon to become the 37th President of the United States and John Mitchell to become its U.S. Attorney General.
Kraft is survived by his wife of 63 years, Anne (known as Joy), and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by two of his sons.