Kent Fire Department mourns loss of retired colleague

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published:

The Kent Fire Department is mourning the loss of one of its most respected and dedicated former firefighters.

Glen Kruger Jr., who retired in 2007 after 29 years with the department, was known by his closest colleagues as the man with incredible passion and understanding for others and one who was always a step ahead of everyone else.

Kruger, 61, died suddenly Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, while shoveling snow at his Kent residence.

"At the fire station, Glen was the one who was always doing something. He was always active, he was always fixing something, he was always cleaning something. He was just a workaholic," former Kent Fire Chief Jim Williams said.

Williams attributes his decision to join the Kent Fire Department to Kruger.

"I went to fire school with Glen and John Brown, who is a Kent firefighter who retired a number of years ago as well, and they were the ones who told me about Kent's test and that's how I ended up here, so Glen holds a special place in my heart because of that," he said.

As staff on EMS squads age, the stressful duties of the job tend to take their toll on those on the staff, Williams said.

Such wasn't the case for Kruger.

"Glen volunteered to run the squad every day that he worked," he said.

Kent Fire Chief John Tosko said Kruger's work ethic was "unbelievable."

"He would put guys half his age to shame going out and working around the station and fire trucks," Tosko said.

In addition to working full-time at the Kent Fire Department, Kruger also worked as an electrician for at Tree City Electric for 40 years. His father, Glen Sr., ran the business.

Aside from his dedication to getting things done, Kruger was also looked up to for his compassion and selflessness on and off duty.

"He was a mentor to a lot of guys," former Fire Chief Dave Manthey said. "He was the kind of guy that a lot of the newer guys looked up to."

Williams said Kruger's experiences growing up in the area led him to have an "unbelievable" rapport with people.

"Glen would do anything for you. He'd give you the shirt off his back if you asked him for it," he said. "He was involved in an accident on his off duty hours, and instead of worrying about himself, he got to help people despite having a back injury."

Tosko said Kruger's compassionate and friendly demeanor has carried on to newer generations of firefighters in the department.

"A lot of the things we do now are because of Glen," he said. "If there was someone who was diabetic and had low blood sugar, he would fix them lunch on the scene."

Calling hours for Kruger will be held from 1 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Bissler & Sons Funeral Home in Kent.

"He will be sadly missed," Manthey said. "He was one of those one-of-a-kind guys."

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

Facebook: Kyle McDonald, Record-Courier

Twitter: KyleMcDonald_RC

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