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Published: Thursday, 5/30/2013

Genevieve "Gena" Krueger 1923-2013

Toledoan active in peace, justice issues

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Genevieve "Gena" Krueger, a force along with her late husband, the Rev. Calton Krueger, in Toledo area peace and justice activism, died May 20 in Ebeid Hospice Residence, Sylvania. She was 89.

She was in declining health after breaking her hip and pelvis in a fall two months ago, her daughter Jill said. Despite heart problems, Mrs. Krueger still went to church and met weekly with a group of friends dubbed the Wednesday Group.

"She always remained contemporary," her son Stephen said. "She didn't live in the past. She kept up on the current events and talked about what was going on now."

Mrs. Krueger was a support to her husband during his ministry, which included 25 years as pastor of the former First United Church of Christ at Cherry and Moore streets -- the longest tenure in a history dating to the 1850s. For several years, she was the church's volunteer secretary. 

The wider community knew Mrs. Krueger and her husband as they stood with signs every Friday outside Toledo's Teledyne CAE plant to protest the making of cruise missile parts there. Or they knew the couple through their public support in the early 1980s of the local nuclear freeze movement or later that decade in rallies against U.S. support of Contras in Nicaragua and the U.S. role in the Salvadoran civil war.

She'd been editor of Linkages, the newsletter of the Interfaith Justice and Peace Center. She served on the boards of the Toledo Area Committee on Central America and of Companion Community Development Alternatives, which aids Central American communities. Though fearful of flying, she went with her husband on a fact-finding tour of Central America in the 1980s. She later was arrested in Georgia during a protest of the Army's School of the Americas.

"If there was a drum major and drum majorette of the peace movement in Toledo, it would have been Cal and Gena Krueger," said Steve Miller, also long active in peace and justice causes who first met the Kruegers in the early 1980s through the nuclear freeze movement.

Mrs. Krueger and her husband were active in Jobs with Justice and in a group opposed to expansion of the Envirosafe landfill in Oregon, Mr. Miller said. 

"She and Cal created a special dynamic," Mr. Miller said. "Ever since I knew her, she was concerned about positive social change and social justice."

Her daughter Jill said: "It was important to her to try to make other people's lives better. She looked at everyone the same, and everyone deserved a fair shake in life, and she wanted to be a part of that if she could be."

She was born July 4, 1923, in Arkansas City, Kan., to Juanita and William Hendryx. She went to high school in Cleveland and was a graduate of Mission House College -- now known as Lakeland College -- in Wisconsin, where she met her husband. The couple married Aug. 30, 1948. Early in their marriage, she was a librarian in Sheboygan, Wis. After her husband's ordination in 1952, the young family moved as he became a pastor in Belvedere, Tenn., and then Indianapolis. They came to Toledo in 1965.

Her husband died May 24, 1997.

Surviving are her sons, Geoffrey, Stephen, and Jonathan Krueger; daughters, Jill Walentowski and Amy Martin; sister, Jeane Jordan; 14 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

A life celebration is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday in Sylvania United Church of Christ, where the family will greet friends after 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to the church; Feed Your Neighbor programs at area churches, or homeless shelters.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.


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