The Rev. Robert J. Kruse, C.S.C., a religious studies scholar and a former academic dean of Stonehill, died peacefully on Tuesday, December 29. He was 83 and a resident of the College campus.
Fr. Kruse devoted his life to the service of Stonehill and played an instrumental role in its growth as a Catholic liberal arts college. A philosophy major, he graduated from Stonehill in 1955.
After completing doctoral studies in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Fr. Kruse joined the Religious Studies Department at Stonehill in 1961 and went on to Chair the department. In 1978, he became the College’s Academic Dean, a position he held until 1987 when he was appointed Executive Vice President. After semi-retiring in 2000, he served as an Assistant to the President until 2010.
During Stonehill’s Golden Anniversary in 1998-99, the College presented Fr. Kruse with its Moreau Medallion in recognition of his critical role in Stonehill’s first 50 years. At Commencement in 2010, he received an honorary Doctor of Theology from the College in recognition of the “poetic vision” that he brought to Stonehill in whatever role he held.
In 2002, in honor of Fr. Kruse's service, the College dedicated the Kruse Center for Academic and Professional Excellence.
In 2008, Fr. Kruse marked his 50th anniversary as a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross. On that happy occasion, friends and colleagues filled the Chapel of Mary to hear him preach with his usual eloquence, wit, and insight. Following the Mass, the College held a dinner in his honor in the Martin Institute for an evening of friendship, dining and good conversation.
In 2013, the pathway leading from the Sally Blair Ames Sports Complex to Holy Cross Center was named Fr. Kruse Way.
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Fr. Kruse grew up in Indiana, Missouri, and New York, and came to Stonehill as a young seminarian in the early 1950s when the College was still in its infancy. Ordained in 1958, Fr. Kruse was a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross, the religious order that sponsors Stonehill.
Fr. Kruse was a specialist in 19th and 20th century religious thought. A thoughtful, spiritual man, he loved to read, garden and walk.
“Father Kruse served as a priest, a professor and as a leading administrator at Stonehill. As such, he is one of the outstanding figures who helped place the College firmly on the higher education map,” said Stonehill President (Rev.) John Denning, C.S.C.
Denning added, “His impact, however, has been felt not just on Stonehill’s intellectual and spiritual life, but also on areas as diverse as strategic planning and the College's natural beauty. His death represents a huge loss for the institution not to mention the countless people who knew and loved him. Fr. Kruse understood life’s complexities and dilemmas. Patient and compassionate, he approached people and their concerns with respect and a comforting calmness. Strong in his faith, he shared the grace of God with others. By daily example, he was an educator in the faith.”
Father Kruse is survived by his brother Keith of Mansfield, Massachusetts and by three nieces, Kathy Murray ’82 of Billerica, Massachusetts, Valerie Scott of Blandon, Pennsylvania, Roberta Kruse of Warwick, New York and a nephew, Casey Kruse of Ardsley, New York. He is also survived by his adopted family, Thon Chen, his wife Sopheak, and their children Vatana and Verek.
A wake for Fr. Kruse will be held on Tuesday, January 5 from 7 – 9 pm in the Chapel of Mary with a prayer service at 7:30 pm. The Mass of Christian burial will be at 10:00 am on Wednesday, January 6 in the Chapel of Mary. Burial will follow in the Holy Cross Cemetery on campus.
In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made in support of the mission and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross via: United States Province of Priests and Brothers, Office of Development, P.O. Box 765, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0765 or online at donate.holycrossusa.org.