He was born April 5, 1951, in Tyler, Minn., the fourth child of Helen and John E. Kruger. He grew up on his parents' dairy farm in Ruthton, Minn., and tended to the animals and fields at a very early age with his four brothers and two sisters. He attended Canby Tech Vocational School for auto mechanics after graduating from Ruthton High School. In 1973, he loaded up his car and moved to Southern California where he worked with his brothers Eldon and Harlan at Brothers Auto Repair. Shortly after moving to Bellflower, Calif., he met the love of his life, Natalie Young. They married in 1975 and had three children.
In 1980, the Kruger Family moved to the Fremont area and Mr. Kruger began working at Jim Moran Oldsmobile as a mechanic. In 1984, he opened the doors to his KAR Shop in Fremont for one-stop auto repair. The shop has a long list of customers who started with him 27 years ago. It also became a training ground for mechanics who moved on to start their own shops, as Mr. Kruger taught his mechanics better and more efficient ways. Natalie and all three of their daughters worked behind the desk at various times.
In 2001, Mr. Kruger was diagnosed with lymphoma and multiple myeloma, and put up the fight of his life against this cancer, including a stem cell transplant, inspiring others and amazing his doctors.
He is survived by his wife Natalie Kruger; his daughters and sons-in-law Jacquelyn and John Howard, Leilani and Tom Arendell, and Marla and Justin Tipton; five grandchildren; his mother Helen Kruger; his brothers and sisters Eldon Kruger, Karen Strom, Harlan Kruger, Teresa Herd, Roger Kruger and Jon Kruger; and many much-loved sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews and countless friends and extended family. He will be remembered for his tough-guy exterior but soft heart and his legacy of hard work, honesty, caring and persistence. A Celebration of Life will be held at his ranch in Sunol at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow. Call 456-4026 for details. Contributions can be made to the International Myeloma Foundation, 12650 Riverside Drive, Suite 206, North Hollywood, CA 91607.
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