October 19, 1930 – November 8, 2022
Deane Cruze, 92, passed away peacefully in his home on November 8, 2022 after living with Parkinson’s and prostate cancer for over 10 years. He was born in Franklin Grove, Illinois to Clarence and Rose (Godfrey) Cruze on Oct.19, 1930. Interestingly, he was born with a veil (caul) over his face. Many cultures believe someone is destined for greatness when this rare event occurs, and that was certainly true in his case!
Dad experienced profound poverty and hardship at a young age. His mother died when he was 5 years old, leaving five children with an alcoholic father in the middle of the Depression. They had a turbulent life moving multiple times within Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee and New York. Eventually, 9 year old Deane and his siblings were placed in the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home in Xenia, Ohio, as their father was not able to care for them. The children thrived at this remarkable “Home” as it was the first time they had stability, enough food to eat and a nurturing environment. This 150 acre self-contained community had a dairy, farm, hospital, and library and they were provided an education, church services, music and vocational skills. Dad loved the Home, which is now a museum, and was thrilled to visit in 2015 with his elder sister.
After a few years, their father remarried and they were rejoined with him and a stepmother, and eventually more siblings. The family moved to Florida, but home life was still unstable and Dad chose to rent a room at a boarding house at age 16. While working three jobs, he supported himself and graduated from Ocala High School in 1949. As soon as he could, he joined the United States Navy.
In 1951, while stationed at NAS Whidbey Island, he met Catherine (Reita) Rae, who was visiting from Scotland. They fell instantly in love and were engaged within a month. She waited for him in Seattle while he deployed to Alaska, Hawaii, Japan and eventually flying 42 combat missions in Korea during the Forgotten War. He was very proud of his Naval service and loved his country. After their March 21, 1952 marriage, they were stationed in Alameda, CA for 6 months before returning to Seattle, where all five of their children were born.
Dad began a 43 year career at The Boeing Company in 1953, starting out as a flight line mechanic and rising to the highest echelons of Boeing management, Senior Executive Vice President of Operations. In the early 60’s, the family moved to Missouri with the Minute Man program and to New Orleans with the Saturn Rocket program.
They moved back to the Pacific Northwest in 1967 to build the world’s largest jet, the 747. Dad was one of the original “Incredibles,” pouring concrete and building the airplane simultaneously. His many assignments took him from Everett to Renton to East Marginal Way, where he managed with an iron fist and a soft heart. His hard work and accomplishments earned him respect and promotions, but he never forgot where he came from. He maintained friendships with everyone from janitorial crew to Airline customers, Suppliers, Government officials and industry leaders. He enjoyed his rich and rewarding career and stayed just long enough to deliver the first 777 to United Airlines.
After retiring in 1995, Dad enjoyed playing golf, cooking, drinking fine wine and good whiskey, traveling, and spoiling grandkids (and eventually great grandkids). He had been a runner since the 1960’s and still ran 5 miles per day until he was 80 years old. He never met a stranger, striking up conversations with every person he came in to contact with – always charming them with his “Cruze Blues” (his beautiful blue eyes), his silver tongue and his wit. During the last years of her life, he was a dedicated, loving caregiver to our Mother, and he never stopped missing her since her passing in 2015.
After their children had all graduated from Edmonds High School, Dad and Mom bought a house at the south end of Mercer Island, where they moved in the spring 1976. Surviving a few remodels over the years, for over 46 years, they never left other than to travel. They loved Mercer Island and it was very important to both of them to remain in their home until their final day, which they both did.
The most important aspect of Dad’s life was family. He was a strict but loving father who loved us all unconditionally and never stopped demonstrating his care and generosity. The profound joy of knowing him and being his children will never leave us.
He is predeceased by the love of his life, Catherine (Reita) Cruze, his beloved daughter Pamela Ratcliffe, and granddaughter Kyla Siems. He is survived by his sons Rande (Celia) Cruze, Kevin (Lora) Cruze, Kerry (Debrah) Cruze, his daughter Laurie (Howard) Knott, and son-in-law Chuck Ratcliffe. Also survived by his grandchildren Andrea, Kailee, Tyler, Reiva, Grady, Lindsey, Kara, Justin, Sarah, Ryan, Lyle, Sean, Kaitlin and Kevin Jr., their partners, as well as 20 great grandchildren and one on the way. He will be greatly missed by his “big” sister Joyce Elayne and his extended family.
We are forever thankful for the loving care that his wonderful caregiver Elenoa Qoyroya provided the last 5 years of his life. Thank you also to Providence Hospice and other caregivers who helped care for Dad this past year.
A celebration of life will be held Monday, January 9, 2023 at 11:00am at Sunset Hills Memorial Park (1215 145th Pl SE, Bellevue). Everyone is welcome!
Remembrances may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, PO Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD 21741 – or to any cause that you love.