Tears and laughter were shared at the Paradise Elks Lodge, where friends and family of Dean Ira Kruta gathered to celebrate his life. Kruta is a highly esteemed member of the Paradise community...
He was born and raised in Iowa before moving to California where he joined the Army and served in World War II and the Korean War as a First Lieutenant. In 1978, Kruta moved to Paradise with his wife, Peggy. Kruta served as the trustee at elks lodge for 12 years and the president of the symphony for nine years...
Many know Kruta as a jokester and a gentleman, and say his passion for the Paradise Performing Arts Center was immeasurable. PPAC Head Usher, Richard Cohrone says, "Dean was very much Mr. Performing Arts Center when I first met him, he was our board member, he was a man who knew all about the theater because he was involved in the building of the theatre."
Kruta was also there for the opening in 1999. He was the first executive director until he left in 2002, but came back to be on the board of directors. Kruta retired in September of 2007, but remained volunteering until his passing on July 14th. Cohrone says, "We very much appreciated him, and even more so now that he's not here any longer."
Many of the 150 ushers from the paradise performing arts center were there: the women in their uniform red jackets, and the men in their red ties. Those at the Elks Lodge know Dean for his smile, handshakes, and ballroom dancing.
"He was a wonderful man like i said, he always had a smile for you, strong handshake," says Kruta's neighbor Tom Stefanick. "Right down here in the gym, we would get together, Dean would be there and several other of us and we'd work out, trying to keep our handshakes firm.. Among other things."
And there was his unique ability to stack pine needles. Stefanick says, "He could stack pine needles like they were hay, I've never seen but he'd stack pine needles so high and keep the sides so straight."
In the end, Kruta had never missed a show. Now the show will have to go on, without him..