Wilby High School Alumni

Waterbury, Connecticut (CT)

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"betty" Mary Elizabeth Gonya Kruse Obituary

"betty" Mary Elizabeth Gonya Kruse attended Wilby High School in Waterbury, CT. View the obituary, post a memory, or share a photo about "betty" Mary Elizabeth Gonya Kruse.

Graduation Year Class of 1941
Date of Passing Aug 20, 2014
About 6

In 1923, Warren G Harding was President, a loaf of bread cost 9 cents, a new car cost $295, and a new home cost $7,400. What was priceless was the birth of Mary Elizabeth who was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, on December 15, 1923. On April 16, 1926, she was formally and lovingly adopted by Edward and Amy Gonya of Waterbury, Connecticut, after she had been in their home a while as a foster child. They loved their new little dark-haired beauty that they called “Betty.” Eventually it was just her mom and her, but they made as good a life as they could during the Depression. Because her mother was so poor, Betty was often boarded out with neighbors, friends, and church members. She ended up attending 13 different schools, but graduated from Wilby High School in Waterbury, where she was a top student, a flag carrier, a member of the Traffic Squad, a reporter for the school newspaper, The Balance Sheet, senior class secretary, and voted “Most All Around Girl.”
Betty met her future husband, Richard “Dick” Kruse when they were in their early teens on an Easter Sunday at Hayden Park where Betty and her friends were taking pictures in their Easter finery. She had met him before, but didn’t care much for him. He knew where she lived-1930’s version of a stalker- because some of his friends lived nearby. They eventually began dating for about a year until Betty broke up with him because he was always with his friends, or was late, or didn’t show up at all. Rich’s mom didn’t know that they had broken up-typical son-and invited Betty to Rich’s birthday party. They got back together after that. Rich’s best friend Joe Marinara always said Betty was the prettiest girl at Wilby, and he and the other guys used to tease Rich about how they didn’t understand how he got her to be his girlfriend. While they were dating, Betty’s mom would be folding clothes near a doorway, using a mirror to watch what was going on. If they came in, she would quickly cover up the mirror with clothes. They both got a kick out of her spying techniques. Sadly, Betty’s mom died before she graduated from high school.
On a freezing December 7, 1941, Betty sat in a car watching her boyfriend Rich play football. The bombing of Pearl Harbor changed their lives and everybody else’s forever. Betty and Rich were married on May 30, 1942, and Rich went into the Marines in October 1942. Betty moved in with Rich’s parents. During the war, Betty did what most women did- got a job, learned to smoke, and hung out with her girlfriends. Her job was at the Waterbury Tool where she was a timekeeper. After 3 long years of separation while Rich fought in the Pacific at Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Eniwetok, the couple was reunited in Waterbury, where he started working at Scovill Manufacturing, and she stayed home to raise their three children, Betty Ann born in 1947, Richard in 1950, and Debbie in 1954.
Part of Rich’s time in the Marines found him stationed at Camp Pendleton where he fell in love with California. After 14 years of trying to persuade her, Betty finally gave in and agreed to move. The family packed up their blue 1956 Plymouth station wagon for their trip across the country using the Southern route. A promise was made to the kids that every hotel they stayed in would have a pool. A friend of Rich’s lived in Glendora, so the family rented a home there before buying a home in Montclair at 4487 Harvard Street for $13,000 in 1960.
Betty was ahead of her time as a working mom in the 60’s. She worked at a laundromat, and at a few other jobs before working for attorney John B. Selters II in Pomona where she met her dear friends from the Mission Avenue office building. After that, she worked for the Ontario-Montclair School District as a clerk. She loved her friends from that job as well. She retired from the work force around 1986.
Rich and Betty liked to see the sights, and many day tours around California were part of the family fun. Camping at South Carlsbad State Beach and in the mountains became an annual family vacation, and friends of the kids were always welcome. Betty didn’t enjoy camping at first, because it still involved cooking and cleaning, but some of the best memories were from those trips. Finally in 1973, Rich, Betty, Richard, Debbie and her friend Diane packed up the Dreamer camper and went back to Connecticut for the first time since the move. This became an annual trip, but they took the train since Rich refused to fly. Other great family memories were the summer holiday picnics in the front yard on Harvard Street, where every Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day, games of volleyball and badminton were played, sometimes very competitively, and a barbecue followed.
Rich died unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism following knee surgery in 1983. As a young widow, Betty kept herself busy with her family, babysitting and spending time with grandkids Scott and Kristin in the 70’s and 80’s, and then Jordan and Kiran in the 80’s and 90’s. Rich and Betty loved to go Scott’s and Kristin’s soccer and baseball/softball games, and Betty continued to go on her own. When Jordan and Kiran came along, she continued to be the #1 cheerleader at their sports and any other performing activities. She wanted to go to everything all of the kids and grandkids did. “I want to go,” she would say about anything any of them were doing. She suffered from a modern term : FOMO- an acronym for Fear Of Missing Out! She also kept busy with her local friends, going on excursions with the Upland Travelers, and she continued to go back to Connecticut to take exotic trips to Europe, around the country, and to the Caribbean with her Connecticut girlfriends. She joined the Montclair Walkers where she made many dear friends, and went to the Plaza a few times each week to walk and have coffee with them. She also sang with the Montclair Walkers Choral group and had so much fun practicing and participating in performances.
The love for UCLA was passed down first from Rich who started following the Bruins and liking them in the 60’s. When Richard went to school there in the 70’s, the entire family got on board and began attending football and basketball games. Starting sometime in the 80’s, most of the family had season tickets for football, and many a fall Saturday was spent first tailgating at the Rose Bowl, and then going inside to watch the Bruins play. Betty would be decked out in her UCLA garb and, of course a hat for protection from the sun that caused her problems over the years. The family will miss her at the games, but they know she will have heaven's view at the Rose Bowl and will be with them in spirit.
At home Betty was always thinking about her next meal, including her second breakfast. And dinner had better be early! She didn’t mind cooking as long as she didn’t have to clean up. Some of her specialties were her Italian sauce, pot roast, pork roast, baked noodles, her Christmas meatballs, and her variations of chicken. The pets over the years always seemed to love her-kind of a female pet whisperer. She would always complain whenever a new pet came into the house, but then she was the one who ended up having a special bond with them. She loved TV- her daytime soaps, nighttime soaps going back to” Peyton Place,” and almost any comedy or drama on the air. She read both newspapers every morning with her coffee, and always read books before going to bed-biographies about TV and movie stars were her favorites.
After Betty fell at the Senior Luncheon in Montclair in October 2011, she needed more care. The family was grateful for everyone who helped out within the family, but also for Melanie and Bernice and finally Lidia. Betty moved into Cameo Elderly Care in 2012, where she lived out the rest of her life. Living at Lidia’s was like being at home; she was with Lidia and Tibor, a teenager Tiffany, 2 other ladies, and dogs. Betty even claimed the best chair in the house, and if anyone dared sit there, they would be told “That’s my chair.”
Even as she declined, her eyes and spirits would brighten when she saw any of her grandkids or great grandkids. Scott Chapman, her oldest grandchild, remembers that Grams used to sit on him when he was little and was acting up. He liked to tease her, and she would tell him to "shut up" or that he was fresh. She started him on eating pretzels and cheese which is something his own family likes too.
Kristin Chapman, her oldest granddaughter, remembers a tradition of giving Grams a Mr. Goodbar, her favorite candy bar, as part of her gift every Christmas. Last time she received it, she just said, “I don’t even like these anymore.” The family got a kick out of her honesty. When Kristin would take care of her, Betty still offered to make her something. She was always generous and worried about everybody else. Grams was the only one who ever called her “Kris” which was also special.
Jordan, the older of the second set of grandchildren, was lucky to have Grams in the house her whole life. Grams did special things like bringing up her breakfast on a tray while she got ready for school, warming her jeans in the dryer on cold days, and going with her as she learned to drive. They used to spar and argue which would often end up with one of Grandma’s love taps or chokes which were pretty forceful for an old lady. They would laugh about it and make up just as fast as they got angry.
Kiran likes to remember Grams as being part of her everyday life. Grandma was a common sight sitting under an umbrella at the AYSO field or at Hilltoppers Softball, where she was friends with all the parents and teammates and was there to cheer her on at every game. Grandma always wanted to share her salad with Kiran at dinners or share her mostaccioli. Another example of her generous nature was when she would take Kiran recycling and let her keep the money.
The great grandkids loved Grams too. Kayla remembers when Grams babysat her one day, some kids in the neighborhood had a BB gun and shot Kayla in the leg. Grandma went right out there and started yelling at the kids- she was always protective of her family. Jack liked to sit by her on the couch where she would just smile at him. He also said she had a funny bone and liked when she sang with her friends. Luc thought she was so nice and liked how she would hug him- he remarked that she was strong for a grandma. Emery loved when Grams put her hand on her leg when they sat together. Emmy said. “I love her. She was so nice and she had pretty jewelry. Her skin is soft. I miss her.” Sadly, Aiden will have to remember her from pictures when he grows up since he is only 2.
Betty was preceded in death by her husband of 42 years, Rich Kruse and a grandson, Ryan Chapman. She is survived by her daughter Betty and her husband Jim Chapman of Rancho Cucamonga, a son, Richard Kruse of Los Angeles, a daughter Debbie Kruse and her husband Ray Simmons of Upland, grandson Scott and his wife Dione Chapman of Huntington Beach, granddaughters Kristin Chapman of Rancho Cucamonga, Jordan Simmons of San Diego, and Kiran Simmons of Upland, great grandchildren Kayla, Jack, Luc, Emery, and Aiden.
The family is grateful she lived 90 mostly great years, was still feisty, had her sharp tongue, loved to be teased and would tease right back, and looked good for her age-her favorite compliment.
A quote from James Joyce says it well: “They lived and laughed and loved and left. And the world will never be the same. " That is so fitting for Betty: our mom, grandma, great grandma, aunt, and friend.
"betty" Mary Elizabeth Gonya Kruse