Eulogy for my friend Kurt Kruger
I just learned my dear friend Kurt Kruger has died.
Because I live in a small town and because of Fuel, our local coffee shop, Kurt and I became friends. There he was one day with a stack of books in a language I had never seen; soon mentoring young people at Fuel to read and speak Sanskrit. I watched over the years as Rosie learned to love the language and deeply appreciate the time she shared with Kurt.
The fact is I probably talked to Kurt more than anyone else in my life. And those conversations took place over coffee for an hour or two almost every single day of our lives in recent years. And what’s remarkable to me is that I can’t really remember ever seeing Kurt in any place other than Fuel. He was an avid hiker and dedicated explorer; while I had to remind myself to walk around the block.
Along the way I came to understand and admire Kurt as a devoted father. I’ve heard so many stories over the years of his continuing efforts to help his son fix his ever-changing automobiles, the days and nights they shared repairing one part after the other, and most recently the growing pride he took as his son helped him make custom furniture. As John embraced the extraordinary care and concern and commitment to excellence that marked the work Kurt did.
I shared Kurt’s joy in finding love again. And I tried to help encourage Kurt to apply to the University Without Walls program at UMASS and for some financial aid from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation so he could transition to a new life.
Kurt was one of the smartest people I’ve met. I jokingly referred to him as my own private Google or Kurtipedia because the mere mention of a person or place, an issue or concern would result in one of Kurt’s mini-workshops on the subject, with multiple references to history or literature. He’d say to me do you remember that scene is such-and-such film and start quoting five minutes of dialogue. And, of course, I didn’t remember any of it. The last time I saw him I might have mentioned Donald Trump Jr. and the Secret Service and all of a sudden Kurt was telling me about Caligula and his Praetorian guards.
Because we live in a small town and because we’re lucky enough to have Fuel, a perfect gathering place, Kurt had met Jon Greene and was working on a book with him: a modern day version of the Tao Te Ching.
Kurt was an accomplished storyteller and fine poet. The smallest example, a snippet from his ‘On The One Hand:’ “I carpe-ed the diem/And pushed/Her away.” You can read some of his writing here on The Edge. Though we shared the present, Kurt was from another era. Erudite, and a scholar without pretension. Because, after all, he earned his living with his hands.
In recent days, he yearned to do more writing. To find a new way.
At seven o’clock every morning I have watched Kurt approach the counter at Fuel and discuss with Holly what kind of coffee was available. And I know how often she would go out of her way to make sure there was something he would like.
This morning Kurt never made it to Fuel but Holli put a cup of coffee on his table.
He will be missed by so many.
And for me, his passing rips another great irreparable hole in the fabric of my life.