Captain Kruse on his boat in 1986.
William 'Bill' or 'Billy' Kruse
  • 82 years old
  • Date of birth: Jun 20, 1934
  • Place of birth:
    Thief River Falls, Minnesota, United States
  • Date of passing: Feb 19, 2017
  • Place of passing:
    Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
Have fun while you're young!

William 'Bill' Kruse, 82, passed away on February 19, 2017 with his niece by his side in Colorado Springs, CO. Bill was born in Thief River Falls to William Sr and Evelyn (Maakrud) on June 20, 1934. He grew up on the farm near St. Hilaire, MN (what is now 140th Ave & Center St SW, Thief River Falls). While the original barns are gone, as is the shed that he 'hammered thousands of nails into', you may still find some old fence posts he set many years ago if you explore the woods behind the home. The farm was an ideal location surrounded by his grandparents (Christian and Katherine (Gotburg)) and his cousins. Bill attended country school and graduated Lincoln High School in 1952.

After graduation Bill went to Minneapolis/St. Paul where he learned meat cutting and radio repair, trades he practiced throughout his life.  He left MN in the early 60s after listening to a radio show about San Francisco. He thought it sounded like a great place to be, so the farm boy just got on a bus and headed west. He had many fond memories of living with his Aunt Ida and his cousins in the Bay Area. He never met a stranger, and his openness to new people and possibilities led him to new friends in Salsolito, CA who got him interested in sailing. The rest is history.

Bill ended up living a simple-but-rich life on a 27 ft sailboat in Ala Wai Harbor Waikiki Small Boat Harbor for more than 40 years. He loved that his boat (Patsy Jean) was a Woollacott, handmade from a single tree in New Zealand (a lost art). He belonged to the Nawililiwili Yacht club and frequented the Hawaii Yacht Club, and the harbor gave him another venue to meet life long friends.

"Have fun while you're young!" was the sage advice Bill shared with everyone, and he was a role model for living fully in the present and following your true passions. Bill's joy for life and sense of adventure were not diminished by a battle with French Polio as a young adult, and he carried this strength forward. He often reflected on the adventures he had in his youth, even when failing health finally came in his latter years.  He had many great adventures including sailing the South Pacific; down the coast of North and South America; living in New Zealand; traveling throughout Mexico and the US; and touring Europe twice on a motorcycle. 'I can't believe I did it,' he would often say with a head shake. Bill had geniune friends in many countries, and could vividly recall the taste of an exotic fruit he once sampled, or the kindness of a stranger met during his travels. He pursued the worthy life-goal of accummulating great friends, experiences, and memories instead of gathering worldly possessions.  His was truly a life well-lived. 

As he reflected on his life he was in awe at not only the adventures and experiences he had, but also the many people who treated him like family and welcomed him. He was humbled by the generosity and love that so many gave to him, and felt so 'lucky' to have so many people in his life.

The family wants to thank his Hawaiian 'family' for making Hawaii his home for more than 40 years and taking great care of him. Also Judy Kibbey for inviting him into her CA home and welcoming him to the mainland in 2014. And finally to his CO family - Tricia, Tim and Parker Scudder who gave him unbounded love and care as he completed the final leg of his life's journey in CO.

Bill was welcomed into heaven with a lei greeting by his father and mother and several beloved aunts, uncles, cousins and life-long friends. He is survived by his brother Richard (Dick) Kruse (St. Louis Park, MN) and sister Karen (Kruse) Steffen (Barron, WI) and his nieces and nephews: Tim Kruse (St. Louis Park, MN), Julie (Johnston) Wood (Memphis, MO), Tina (Kruse) Strickler (Phoenix, AZ), Chas Johnston (Seattle, WA), Chris Johnston (Ridgeland, WI) and Tricia (Kruse) Scudder (Colorado Springs, CO). He is also survived by a '52 Dodge pick-up (whereabouts unknown), a few good motorcycles with lots of miles and the Patsy Jean (Waikiki Harbor) - may their owners continue the adventure inspired by Bill.

According to his wishes his body will be donated to science to help find a cure or relief for others suffering from his medical conditions.  

Because his friends and family are spread all over the world, at this time this site will be the only way to share memories and honor his life. In lieu of flowers, please support the organizations that meant a lot to him:

Hawaii Meals on Wheels - He loved his meals on wheels and the people who brought him the meals and shared a story.

NationalMSSociety - He wanted to help find a cure for diseases where there was a disconnect between the brain and the central nervous system.

Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy - He suffered from Peripheral Neuropathy and his nervers were damaged by Guillain-Barré Syndrome early in his life. While it limited his mobility, it didn't limit his gumption. (Tough Old Goat)

Any organization that supports ocean or wild life which brought him much joy!

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Robert Smith on 25th March 2017

"Having a boat in the Ali Wai Harbor in Hawaii, I met Bill about 1980 and we became friends.  In the 1990's I sold Bill my pride, a BMW motorcycle.  Shortly thereafter,  he rode the bike around Europe for four months and then brought it back to Hawaii.  Several years later, he took the bike back to Europe for another several months of riding, then brought it back to hawaii again.  Later, he attached a sidecar, permitting use of the machine by enabling riding with his unfortunate medical condition. Selling his beloved boat, he moved to California in 2015,  bring along the bike.  Shortly after he sold the machine, having almost 300,000 miles on it.  I last saw Bill last year in Victorville. My wife Nancy and I had lunch with him.  We enjoyed many phone conversations over the years, retelling sailing and bike stories.  Bill was a wonderful man and a good friend.  Over the years, when in the islands, Nancy and I would always enjoy visiting with Bill and usually have lunch.  Many times we had sweet and sour soup at his favorite Chinese Restaurant.  He will be missed!  Bob and Nancy Smith, Las Vegas, Nv."

This tribute was added by Tony Rodriguez Larkin on 15th March 2017

"Bill was a genuine, kind-hearted soul who I was fortunate to get to know over the last few years of his storied life. I remember fondly how he lit up whenever we talked about traveling; him riding around in his old BMW motorcycle; and his usual reminder to "have fun while you're young"...

You are greatly missed you "old goat". Love and aloha on your next adventure."

This tribute was added by Angie Atkins on 14th March 2017

"I first met Bill in 2010 when I was a volunteer for the Friendly Neighbors' Program in Waikiki and over the years, he became ohana.

My memories include: visiting and hanging out on the back of the boat, making shopping trips to Don Quijote, lunch dates to Bale for his favorite tuna sandwich (after the harbor grocery that had his favorite beef stew closed down - much to his disdain), sunset dinners at the Barefoot Beach Cafe in Waikiki, listening to and being inspired by his many travel stories, humbly turning down rides in the sidecar, helping him joyfully transition back to the boat after being land-locked for a few months, looking through old photo albums of his adventures, and feeling heartbroken (yet thankful that he was going to be taken care of) when he left the island for good.

Bill was generous, inspiring and so kind-hearted. Whenever we connected, he always asked about my family and genuinely cared how they were doing. He holds a special place in my heart and will be greatly missed.

*A hui hou Bill~

Aloha,
Angie"

This tribute was added by Art Mori on 4th March 2017

"Bill was a dear family friend.  He spent many a holiday dinner at our home in Honolulu where he would regale us all with his stories and his rope tricks.  

The man was generous to a fault.  He was a very giving individual.

He touched our lives in a very special way and will be forever in our hearts."

This tribute was added by Joanne Huffsmith on 24th February 2017

"Bill was a very special person.  When I was a teenager he used to visit my mom and dad (Herman & Mildred Kruse) in Sacramento often and they enjoyed his visits.  Much later I was able to visit "the cousin that lived on a boat in Hawaii" with my husband, children and grandchildren. He  entertained us with his stories and rope tying skills.  From then on we corresponded via e-mail and looked forward to our next visit.  My last visit with Bill was in Hesperia, California and I found him very happy with the desert quietness.  I was able to share pictures of the Kruse Reunion in Thief River Falls with him.  I loved him because he was my cousin and I knew he loved us too."

This tribute was added by Greg Thompson on 22nd February 2017

""B" never forgot to call us, on a regular basis.  He sent gifts.  He sent love.  He will be so very missed by my wife and me.  We will so miss seeing "B" on the phone.   We know he's back on his boat and his motorcycle, and living it up again.   He always treated my mom and dad,  Bob and Lois Thompson,  like they were so special.  I didn't know, until i grew up, that he was my cousin, not my uncle.  Regardless, he was my "B", and I loved him deeply."

This tribute was added by Kristin Grimstrup on 20th February 2017

"Fair winds and safe harbors from here on.  
Thanks for sharing some of your journey with the Grimstrups."


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This memorial is administered by:

Dick & Ginny Kruse
Tina Strickler
Tricia (Kruse) Scudder

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