WMSTR Past President
WMSTR Lifetime Member
James Edwin Kruft, 79, of Fargo, ND, died Thursday, January 12, at SMP Health - St. Catherine South.
Jim was born October 3, 1943, in Park Rapids, MN, to Herbert and Lyona (Branham) Kruft. He was baptized at the First English Lutheran Church of Dorset and grew up in Dorset, MN. He started first grade when he was only four at the one-room schoolhouse in Dorset. Jim always said how much he enjoyed going to the schoolhouse because he was able to learn the same things the older kids were learning. Jim loved learning new things and sharing his knowledge with others. Jim graduated from high school in Park Rapids, MN, in 1961.
After graduation, he went to Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, MN, during which time he worked at McDonald's. In February 1962, Jim enlisted in the US Air Force. He completed basic training in San Antonio, TX. After basic training, he went to Kessler, MS, for training to be an Air Traffic Controller. Jim was stationed at Schilling Air Force Base in Salina, KS. He met Marva "Jody" Coltrain while she was working at The Vogue movie theater. They became engaged over Christmas 1962. Jim and Jody were married at Schilling Air Force Base Chapel on March 31, 1963. They were blessed with three children, son, Kevin and daughters, Kim and Lori.
The family settled in Fargo, ND, in 1977. Jim worked at Holsum Bakery in downtown Fargo. He then joined the North Dakota Air National Guard (NDANG) as a full-time employee. He worked at the 119th Fighter Wing in Civil Engineering, specializing in HVAC (heating and air conditioning). Jim retired in 2009 but continued to work at NDANG for the state until 2013. He also took care of the law enforcement shooting range for fifteen years.
Jim was a life member at Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag, MN. He attended WMSTR for over forty years, where he worked in the Freeport Building. He was also a life member of The Manitoba Threshermen's Reunion & Stampede in Austin, Manitoba. He was also a member of the Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers organization, and he enjoyed going to The Park Rapids Antique Tractor and Engine Club Field Days. Jim earned his Amateur Radio Operator "HAM" license in 1992 (call sign, NØTSZ). He was an active member of the Red River Radio Amateurs, where he was President for two different terms and club Emergency Coordinator for many years. He also taught classes to help others obtain their HAM licenses. Over the years, Jim enjoyed volunteering and working with many organizations.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Herbert and Lyona, and his son, Kevin. Jim is survived by his loving wife, Jody Kruft; daughters, Kim (Shane) Pilon and Lori Kruft; granddaughter, Stephanie (Jeff) Hanson; great-granddaughter, Nessa Hanson all of Fargo; aunt, Ida Stenevik of Detroit Lakes, MN; sister-in-law, Sarah Starling of Salina, KS, and many family and friends.
Jim will be laid to rest at the Henrietta Cemetery in Dorset, MN, at a later date.