|TCP member Walter Kruger was born on May 16, 1921, and died on June 17, 2001. Around 13 members of our guild attended his funeral at Saint Therese Catholic Church, St. Paul, Mn., on June 20th. After the service, we all enjoyed a wonderful meal, and saw many picture displays of events in Wally's life.
Wally met his wife, Mary Ellen, as a teenager. He often drove in to the big root beer stand, near the airport, with friends. A friendly car hop, Mary Ellen, visited with all the customers, including Wally. He was such a shy guy, that it took him a year before he had the nerve to ask her out. They went to the roller derby on their first date.
They started going together, and after high school, Wally joined the Air Force. Mary Ellen graduated from Roosevelt Senior High School. That fall, when Wally came home on leave, they were married in a church wedding in November 1943. Wally went back to the service after leave, and Mary Ellen went with him, but soon returned home and lived with her parents.
Their first child, Cecelia, was born in 1944, and Mary Ellen moved to the base where Wally was stationed. After Wally left the Air Force, they moved back to Minneapolis in 1947. Wally returned to the Kruger Potato business, where potatoes were shipped out by truck from the warehouse.
They had four more girls; Mary Lee, Kathy, Tresa, and Heidi. And, a son Billy, who died as an infant.
Mary Ellen took a puppet making class in 1948, and heard about our TCP guild. She attended her first meeting at the home of Lem and Mary Williams, and joined the guild in 1949. The next year, she had a puppet meeting at the Kruger home, where Wally took home movies of Mildred Mitton doing her marionette number, "I'm a Little Teapot." Wally surprised Mary Ellen, one Christmas, with four Hazelle Marionettes in a large box. She looked at them occasionally, but sent them back, because she thought that $100.00 was too expensive for four puppets.
|Mary Ellen was busy with the TCP guild shows, and Wally helped with some building jobs.
In 1970, they started building their log cabin home on West 7th Street, near the airport. Wally laid the hardwood floors, and put in the electricity himself. Both of them did most of the work on the house. Mary Ellen varnished the inside and outside of the house, and it was on the Tour of Homes in 1975.
After the potato business, Wally went to work at the Post Office and later retired in 1982.
In recent years, Mary Ellen and Wally have travelled all over the world (U.S.-Canada-Hawaii-and Europe) looking at trains and puppets. Wally had a big minature train layout in the basement, with many Lionel engines and train cars. On many trips, Mary Ellen picked up children in Korea and Europe and brought them back to the U.S. for adoption, through the International Adoption Agency.
Wally enjoyed driving, and many trips that Mary Ellen and he took were around the country. At our Festival in 1994, Wally transported visitors from the airport and between the St. Paul and Minneapolis U.of M. campuses. In between, he drove the shuttle, and we called his van the "Wally Wagon" or the "Wallymobile".
We will remember Wally as a hard working, but fun loving member of our guild. How lucky, that we had the Kruger and Garrison Party last November, when Wally was still with us to enjoy everything.
(Written by Karen Backes)