After checking the newspaper daily for the last 20+ years, Gordon “Butch” Kruse Jr., age 73, will be dismayed to find his name printed in the obits section. He quietly passed on from this life Tuesday, Oct. 12, at his Watertown residence. Butch was born Dec. 17, 1947, to the late Gordon and Joyce (Carr) Kruse in Volga, SD. Being the eldest and only son did not deter him from finding mischief with his cousin David, including a small explosion in the Brookings High School chemistry class that cleared the building. Despite this, Butch did graduate from BHS in 1966.
In the summer of 1966, Butch met the love of his life, Darlene Torgerson, while dragging Main Street of Estelline, SD, in his ’59 Chevy Impala convertible. He asked her if she wanted a ride, and when she said yes, he took off. He drove by again and she scared him by hopping in. They married October 14, 1967, when he was home on leave. Butch was honorably discharged from the Navy later that year and the couple made their home in Brookings. The couple have two children, Tina and Tim. Butch and Darlene later divorced but reunited in marriage for a third time on February 1, 2014.
Butch had a long career as a garbage man for the City of Brookings. Before retirement, he realized his dream when he designed and co-owned the convenience store in Estelline. He moved to Watertown in 2004 to be closer to his kids and take advantage of his retirement years. His favorite complaint about retirement was that he never got another day of vacation. Putzin’ in his shop, grocery shopping on Mondays, buying more hammers and other tools he didn’t need at Menards, and napping in the most awkward positions filled his day until 5 p.m. when he opened the Happy Hour Bar, where he teased neighbors, friends and family with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He claims he did not lie but often ‘fabricated the truth’ with his story telling. Butch was a character but also generous and kind.
He was thrilled when he could help anyone he knew and looked forward to snowfalls when he could pull out the BIG DOG to plow the streets and driveways of his neighbors. Butch did not expect anything in return. Pay it forward was his preference.
Butch was tickled to have his family near and was their rock. Family could always count on his support and love but he felt, in his words, that he was ‘fortunate to have spent my days and nights with a very special lady and very proud to be the Dad to special kids, and Gramps to special grandkids and great-grandkids.’ He will be remembered for giving nicknames to family and friends as an endearment or, more likely, that he couldn’t remember their name.
A celebration of his life will be held at Butch’s Happy Hour Bar Sunday, Oct. 17 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. with quarter-pounders with cheese from McDonald’s, his favorite 5-star restaurant, chips and Miller Lite, his Happy Hour beer of choice. A memorial service will be held Monday, October 18 at 10:30 am at Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer. Honorary pallbearers are “all the people I’ve known.” A private graveside service will be held at a later date.
Butch is missed by his wife, Darlene, children, Tina Kruse (Troy Nelson) and Tim Kruse (Michele) of Watertown; grandchildren, Ryan Sattler of Watertown, Kelsey Hetland (Jesse) of Richfield, MN, Zea Kruse and Kora Kruse of Watertown; great-grandchildren, Emma Sattler of Clear Lake and Jack Sattler of Watertown; sisters, Linda Brown (Steve) of Howard, SD, Kathy Thompson (Randy) of Bruce, SD, and Pam Sowell (Paul) of Brookings, SD; mother-in-law, Irene Porter of Brookings, SD; sister-in-law, Deb Braasch (Steve) of Fargo, ND; brothers-in-law, Rodney Torgerson (Leah) of Springfield, MO, Doug Torgerson (Kathy Monnier) and Todd Torgerson (Andrea Austin) of Brookings, SD.
This may not be an ordinary obituary, but Butch was not ordinary. As he would say when departing, “Have a safe day.”