Alice M. Kruse, 102, of Blair, Neb., and formerly of Le Mars, died Friday, Jan. 15, 2010, at Crowell Memorial Home in Blair, Neb. Alice was born March 2, 1907, on the family farm near Clay Center, Neb., the daughter of John and Martha Kruse. She began her education in a one room rural school and graduated from Clay Center High School in 1924. She graduated from Western Union College (later Westmar College) in Le Mars, in 1929.
In July 1930, Alice arrived by train in Pineville, Ky. She was directed to put her suitcase and bundle of personal items in two gunny sacks. The two sacks were fastened together with two large nails and thrown over the back of a mule to ride with her for the 14 miles into a valley of the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky. Red Bird Mission, a church project only 10 years old when she arrived, would be her working place for 16 years. She was given a room in the girl's dormitory with no indoor plumbing and no fans for reducing July heat discomfort. Alice taught English and Speech to under-prepared mountain children and saw them become part of winning debate teams and successful college students.
She completed her masters degree at the University of Kentucky in 1943 and in 1946 joined the faculty of Western Union College (later Westmar College) in Le Mars, where she served for 27 years until retiring in 1973.
At Westmar, she continued her commitment to students by establishing the Alice Kruse Scholarship Fund. She insisted that "the recipient must always be a true student. The person should be first a scholar and then a person who's very alert to other opportunities on campus." She valued her acquaintance with all students and was a faithful attendee at most athletic and music events.
Alice became head of the English Department, Director of the Humanities Division and was a member of Sigma Tau Delta - a National English Society; Pi Kappa Delta - a National Forensic (speech) Fraternity, and Alpha Chi - a National Academic Fraternity.
In 1987, she was selected as a Distinguished Westmar Alumni Fellow.
After retirement in 1973 she remained in Le Mars, living in her own home and continuing her active involvement in the life of Westmar College by doing regular volunteer work and encouraging students in any way that she could.
In 1999, at age 92, she moved to the Crowell home.
The church was always important to Alice and she learned how to live simply. In addition to aiding needy students, she found ways to provide significant aid to new churches, particularly in the Nebraska Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Family survivors include eight nieces and nephews residing in five different states.
Her brother and four sisters preceded Alice in death.
A Service of Memory will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24, at the Crowell Memorial Home, 245 South 22nd Street, Blair, Neb.
Condolences may be sent online to www.carlsenfuneralhome.com.