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Fred Cruger to Reign as Grand Marshall of Railroad Days 2012.

by Vervia Gabriel, Mountain Loop exPress Staff

Fred looking like a Grand Marshall with his 1912 Renault!
Fred looking like a Grand Marshall with his 1912 Renault!

Researching the amazing career and fascinating hobbies of Fred Cruger has been an adventure in itself. Fred is an east coast guy, born in Oceanside, New York and raised in a town much smaller than Granite Falls called Farmingville.  Fred spent the first twelve years of his professional life as an officer in the US Air Force, engaged in the design and flight test of advanced weapon systems and inertial navigation systems, finishing his service with three years as an instructor in Electrical Engineering at the USAF Academy.  He joined Hewlett-Packard as a Manufacturing Engineer, spent several years as Manufacturing Engineering Manager, and a short time as the Quality Assurance Manager, before becoming the head of Research and Development (R&D) for the division in Lake Stevens.

Following fourteen years as the R&D Manager and Marketing Manager (during which time the division became part of Agilent Technologies, when H-P split into two companies), he joined the Service and Support portion of the company to avoid leaving the Pacific Northwest.  He just passed thirty-three years with HP/Agilent, and works from his home in Granite Falls as a program manager.  Much of his time is spent on supporting large aerospace companies all over the globe in their efforts to service their own high-technology microwave test equipment.

Fred received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, and his MSEE from AF Institute of Technology in Dayton, OH.  He graduated with a cumulative GPA of 4.0, was a member of Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu, with biographies appearing in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities and in Outstanding Young Men of America.

Fred’s impressive resume features a section at the end of each job summary called “Greatest Learnings,” exemplifying his perspective on the world and his extraordinary writing skills. Reading these writings, quite frankly, made me laugh out loud.  For example, Fred wrote, “For the greatest engineering productivity, an organization must complement technology with excitement, quick decisions, forgiven mistakes and the concept of ‘If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space!’ Execution is the key, and flexibility is the lubricant that enables us to unlock success despite real-world hang-ups.” In another he wrote my favorite: “At the end of a long day fighting technology, political, and personnel battles, it can be immensely gratifying to blow something up in defense of your country.”

His outside interests are focused on the growth and success of the Granite Falls Historical Society (and Museum), restoring and touring in pre-1916 Automobiles (he owns and operates a number of those), and barbershop quartet singing. Yes, he even sings!

Fred’s wife Penny, who exhibits infinite patience with his projects, is, likewise, committed to the Granite Falls Historical Society, enjoys touring (in costume, of course) in horseless carriages, and simply smiles when he sings. Penny also shares his passion for strange domesticated animals such as “Dude” the opossum and his current office assistant,

Stewey, Fred's trusted office assistant
Stewey, Fred's trusted office assistant

“Stewey” the raccoon, who has ruled the Cruger household since he was a tiny ball of striped fur.  Stewey is a favorite subject for Fred’s photography with his comical antics and poses. He currently appears on the Historical Society Dinner flyer for Railroad Days imploring citizens to “Take a bath. . put on some makeup. . abandon your housework,  smile and invest in yourself! Enjoy an evening with friends and family.” Fred and Penny have adopted the normal pets - dogs, cats as well as koi, donkeys (which make great fertilizer for giant pumpkins according to Fred), parrots, and macaws.  Penny talked of adopting a kangaroo too.  Oh, and they also have six human children and eleven grandkids ranging in age from twelve to twenty-two, including two sets of twins.

As a long-time member and current president, Fred’s contributions to the Historical Society and Museum have been monumental.  If you have heard his presentation called, “History Goes High Tech," you understand.  Fred was the single driving force in not only bringing the Museum into the 21st Century, but also for establishing it as a technology leader across the county, state and nation.

Fred started by digitizing the old pictures and documents in the museum collection for searches on-line.  Then he introduced the digital overlaying of vintage maps with aerial photographs and modern geographical information. These unbelievable feats were followed by the digitizing of early 19th Century Granite Falls newspapers using an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) system which allows searching by key words or dates. His latest project involved developing cyber tours that offer “then and now” video clips of the area that can be viewed on smart phones and computers!!

Fred has mastered the art of grant writing for these projects and is now a highly respected teacher for other museums and historical societies.  He and a student were recently invited to present the mapping system at a nation historical society convention in Oklahoma where they scored a perfect “10” rating from participants on evaluation sheets.

Historical Society pal Ted Peddycord talks fondly of him, saying, “One of Fred’s greatest skills is the ability to cut through the crap and come up with a practical solution to the problem.”  Ted said, “I have talked to several people that worked for him, and they all realized his enormous mental skills. When we built the new museum building, Fred used his math skills to find the "right" answers where the rest of us used whatever method we could to try to do the same.”

Fred is also a historical writer for newspapers and consultant on historical issues.  Pat Dorpat of the Seattle Times recently wrote about Granite Falls for his “Then and Now” column.  His field photographer Jean Sherrard, who took pictures for the article, said, “Spending the afternoon with Fred Cruger as my guide to Granite Falls and the many wonders of his museum was a real kick. Fred has an artist’s passion and inspiration, a historian’s curiosity, and the meticulous nature of an engineer – in short, he’s a force of nature. His focus and energy have brought the Granite Falls community together to create one of the finest small town historical museums in the country.”

Fred routinely attends City Council meetings and serves as a City Planning Commissioner.  He is keenly interested in city operations and is not shy about expressing his opinion. City officials and staff listen when Fred talks and regularly seek his advice on issues.  He is a very active and caring member of the Granite Falls community who contributes to local decision-making at a high and productive level.

We could not have a better Grand Marshall for Railroad Days! Congratulations Fred.

Susan king :: 2012-10-05 19:59:39 CDT :: ip: logged
Fred is a town treasure! Like the E F Hutton commercials, I listen when Fred talks. I always learn something & enjoy his quick insightful sense of humor. His contributions via the City, Chamber, Historical Society, & other unknown interests are impossible to measure! Congratulations Fred!!
Connie Mace :: 2012-10-05 12:19:56 CDT :: ip: logged
Great coverage of Fred, Grand Marshall extraordinaire!
Catherine Anderson :: 2012-10-05 11:18:11 CDT :: ip: logged
Terrific article about one of our community's outstanding citizens. Thanks, Fred, - and Penny - for choosing Granite Falls to live and work. We are blessed to claim you!
Randy Farrell :: 2012-10-05 10:32:52 CDT :: ip: logged
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