Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Virtus Johannes Kruse (1905-1978)

Portrait from the Washington Court House Record, January 7, 1958.

   A native of Iowa, Virtus J. Kruse would find success in business and politics in Fayette County, Ohio. A four-term member of the Ohio House of Representatives from that county, Kruse also served as part of the Ohio delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Born in Elk River Township, Iowa on December 8, 1905, Virtus Johannes Kruse was the son of Johann (John) and Christine Kruse
   Little is known of Kruse's early life or education, excepting notice of his employment with the Cudahy Packing Company. Kruse's affiliation with that business saw him serve as its assistant manager in Evansville, Wisconsin and Neosho, Missouri. He later advanced to manager of that company at its facility in Alma, Nebraska, and in the mid-1920s his work brought him to Fayette County, Ohio. He would marry there to Ohio native Margaret Heath (1906-1992), and the couple is believed to have been childless.
   Virtus J. Kruse continued work with the Cudahy Packing Co. plant in Fayette County, eventually leaving their employ to begin a "grocery and restaurant business", which he would follow until he decided to pursue farming in Green Township, Ohio in 1937.
    In 1944 Kruse entered the political life of Fayette County when he was elected to the County Board of Elections. He would serve on that board for fourteen years and in the mid-1950s also held the chairmanship of the Fayette County Democratic Executive Committee. Kruse resigned from the Board of Elections in March 1958 to enter the Democratic primary for state representative for Ohio, and later that year was elected to that office.
   Kruse would serve as Fayette County's representative for four consecutive terms (1959-1967) and during his first term he and two other unusually named representatives (Americus Gabe Lancione and Vernal Gobel Riffe Jr.) introduced legislation that outlined
"the function of the State Health Department in preventing improper radiation, sets up a radiation advisory council, and requires registration of all agencies using, producing, storing or depositing radiation sources."
    In 1964 Kruse was selected as part of the Ohio delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey that nominated Lyndon Johnson for the Presidency. During the latter portion of his time in the legislature, Kruse took an interest in becoming a real estate dealer and was affiliated with the firm of Weade and Wiscup Reality. In 1967 Kruse passed the state examination for real estate brokers and shortly thereafter established the Kruse Reality in the city of Washington Court House. Kruse's office was highlighted in the August 31, 1967 issue of the Washington C.H. Record, which noted that "he would handle farm, city and commercial properties."

From the Washington C.H. Record, August 31, 1967.

   Virtus J. Kruse continued involvement in Fayette County political affairs well into the late 1970s, accepting the position of co-chairman of the campaign for "Ohioans For the Preservation of Honest Elections" in October 1977. Kruse died just a few months after that campaign on February 18, 1978, at age 72. He was later interred at the Washington Cemetery in Washington Court House, Ohio

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