Nov. 17, 1944 — Aug. 26, 2020
James David Kruger paddled into the sunset on Aug. 26, 2020. Dave lived a life that revolved around public service, time in the outdoors and a bit of gossip here and there.
The eldest of four children, Dave was born in Oceanside, California, on Nov. 17, 1944, to John (Jack) and Yvonne Kruger. Dave’s memories from childhood included living on a chicken ranch, grunion hunting in the surf and digging a backyard fallout shelter.
Upon graduation from San Dieguito High School, Dave enrolled at Harvey Mudd College and majored in chemistry. Claremont’s proximity to the San Gabriel Mountains inspired an evolution from beach bum to explorer of mountains. Graduation in 1966 revealed a practicing nerd with a hunger for larger and wilder spaces.
Next stop was the University of Washington, where he enrolled as a doctoral candidate in organic chemistry. Dave joined the university’s mountaineering club and met his future wife, Belinda Kruger, who fell in love with the bespectacled nerd sporting a dubious mustache. Dave and Belinda married in October 1971.
Dave had a lifelong passion for education and leadership. Upon completing his doctoral studies in 1973, he accepted a position teaching chemistry at Clatsop Community College. It seems likely that this decision was heavily influenced by the incomparable views from the college’s chemistry lab.
Dave taught at the college until 2000. Former students mention his ability to make chemistry approachable, commitment to students, unusual front of class stretching regime and penchant for wearing shorts year-round.
Nineteen seventy-three marked the birth of Belinda and Dave’s only child, Ian Kruger. Dave approached parenting as a bit of a mystery, and was fortunate to have a supportive guide in Belinda.
Ian recalls a childhood of backpacking and cross-country skiing, with just enough fishing to keep an exhausted child engaged. The relationship evolved and enjoyed a foundation of mutual respect and admiration for each other’s strengths. Ian is hoping that he did not inherit his father’s sense of fashion.
Dave and Belinda divorced in 1988, and he entered a period of reflection. Diversions began with stunt kite flying and evolved into an obsession for sea kayaking. He also devoted his energies to KMUN, a dedication that continued throughout his life.
Meeting Becky Dean at the Riccardi Gallery in 1992 was a milestone for Dave. Becky provided Dave with his missing companion and adventure buddy. The two were partners in innumerable adventures on the water, first in sea kayaks and later in Dave’s hand-built boat, the Surf Scoter. Dave and Becky married in 2011. Becky was unable to break Dave’s habit of wearing socks with sandals.
Throughout his life Dave enjoyed a number of passions, from mountaineering to steelhead fishing, RC planes, stunt kites, kayaking and boat building. His love of and commitment to family, friends and students was unwavering. He will be missed by many, and would undoubtedly appreciate it if you shared irreverent photos and memories.
Dave is survived by his wife, Rebecca “Becky” Dean; son, Ian Kruger (Suzanne); brothers, Rick and Jon Kruger; Becky’s children, Dan (Melissa “Missy” Jensen-Smith) and Stacy Smith; and former wife, Belinda Kruger. Dave was fortunate to have grandchildren in his life, and is survived by Mari Ramarui, Dano Smith, Roslin Jenkins, Jacob Jensen and Bailey Jensen.
Please share photos and stories at: bit.ly/DaveKruger
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to community radio station KMUN.