Mildred Joan Kruger, beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, died on Monday, November 16 at the age of 87. A Celebration of life will be held 1 p.m. Friday, November 20, at Lexington United Methodist Church. Burial will follow at Lexington Memorial Cemetery. Visitation at the church will be held an hour before the service. Social distancing protocols will be observed and masks are required.
Joan, as she was known, was born in Ohio on May 28, 1933. She was the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Walter Kenneth and Mildred Louise Warstler of Middletown, Ohio. Joan was an only child and, growing up, was especially close to her father, who encouraged her to accomplish anything she set her mind to. For instance, when seven-year old Joan told her parents she wanted to ride in an airplane, her father made it happen and let Joan go up in the airplane by herself, with only the pilot for a companion. Her family can attest to the profound influence both of her parents had over her, and they have all benefitted over the years from her strength, courage, and wisdom.
She graduated from Columbia College (B.A.) and the University of South Carolina (M.L.I.S.). Joan, who believed in the power of the written word, shared her love of books and had seemingly infinite patience. She was an elementary school teacher retooled to become a media specialist/librarian at several schools in the Lexington County area. She retired from Dutch Fork Elementary School in 2002, after passing along her love of literature to countless students.
Upon retirement, Joan increased her already substantial investment in our community, from local to global. She was a frequent visitor to Lexington Extended Care, going once a week with her beloved rescue dog, Jellybean, to visit residents. Joan also volunteered and supported Mission Lexington and, beyond our borders, participated in pen-pal programs with young folks in other countries. Her daughter recalls Joan conducting detailed research about South Carolina’s cotton industry in order to respond to one of her pen-pal’s questions. She maintained files of pen-pal letters, clearly treasuring the opportunity to connect with and learn from others. Joan was also a supporter of PETS Inc. and the Heartworm Project, among other animal aid societies, and fostered several dogs that came to find a permanent home with her.
She was a long-time member of Lexington United Methodist Church. Joan dearly loved her church family and spoke often of her church friends in her Sunday School class, the Agnes Rogers Circle, and the Friday morning centering prayer group. She also volunteered with the church’s pre-school program, continuing to share her love of books by reading aloud to students and inspiring them to read on their own.
Joan demonstrated that one could be independent, without being cold; nurturing, without accepting failure; intelligent, without practicing callousness; and hopeful, without choosing naïveté. A humanitarian and a Christian, she was gifted to not only see people for who and what they are, but most importantly, to accept them, to love them, and, inevitably, to forgive them.
She is survived by her maternal aunt, Mary Jane Hummel; four children, Jim Kruger (Bridget), Janis Leaphart (Damone), Bill Kruger, and Diane Green (Steve); grandchildren, Michael Kruger, David Kruger, Felder Leaphart (Emily), Emily Baum (Wade), Jennifer Leaphart (Hunter), Erin Brewton (Josh), Ken Kruger, and Marissa Kruger; and great-grandson, Holden Baum. She was predeceased by her grandson, AJ Kirby. Her grandchildren remember her as the biggest fan at many tennis matches, ballets, basketball games, softball games, and soccer matches.
The family kindly suggests that memorials may be made to Epworth Children’s Home P O Box 50466 Columbia, SC 29250, The Heartworm Project P O Box 7308 West Columbia, SC 29171, or the charity of one’s choice in recognition of Joan’s own varied charitable endeavors. The family wishes to express gratitude to the nurses and doctors of the Providence Hospital ICU for the excellent care and compassion shown to her and her family. Barr-Price Funeral Home and Crematorium, Lexington Chapel is assisting the family.
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