Kelvin Kruger (1951-2011): My dad... An inspiration, a fighter and my hero.
Kelvin Jon Kruger was born on Thursday, April 5, 1951 in Tyler, Minnesota. He was the fourth child of Helen and John E. Kruger. Kelvin grew up on his parents’ dairy farm in Ruthton, MN and tended to the animals and fields at a very early age. He had 4 brothers and 2 sisters. Born with a rumbling engine in his ear, Kelvin attended Canby Tech Vocational School for auto mechanics after graduating from Ruthton High School in Ruthton, Minnesota.
In 1973, Kelvin loaded up his car and moved to Southern California where he worked with his brothers Eldon and Harlan at Brothers Auto Repair. In 1980, the Kruger Family moved to the Fremont, CA, area. Kelvin had his first interview and was hired on the spot to work at Jim Moran Oldsmobile as a mechanic. When he wasn’t at work, he was busy helping fix the vehicles of friends, family and neighbors out of his home garage. It wasn’t long before Kelvin’s Auto Repair (The KAR Shop) sparked into existence. In 1984, he opened the doors to the KAR Shop in Fremont. Kelvin wanted to offer a complete, one-stop auto repair shop. He dreamed of offering a place where you could take your vehicle and know that it was getting the best, most honest service in the area. His dream came true. The KAR Shop quickly became one of the most respected independent auto repair shops in the area. The KAR Shop has a long list of customers who were there in the beginning and have stayed with him throughout his 27 years in business.
More than just an auto repair shop, The KAR Shop became a training ground for many mechanics who moved on to start their own businesses. Kelvin was a remarkable teacher – tough, but always demonstrating a better and more efficient way to get the job done. It was also the location where people could see the entire Kruger family at work. All three of his daughters and Natalie could be seen behind the desk at The KAR Shop at various points throughout the shop’s history.
In 2001, Kelvin was diagnosed with Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma. Not one to take anything sitting down, Kelvin put up the fight of his life against this cancer. He succeeded on many different fronts, including a stem cell transplant. For over 10 years, Kelvin fought an amazing, valiant battle against a terminal illness. He was and always will be an inspiration for how he fought. Even his doctors were amazed.
At the age of 60, Kelvin passed away at 9:35 on the evening of Tuesday, June 28, at his ranch in Sunol, surrounded by his loved ones. Kelvin is survived by his wife, Natalie Kruger; his daughters and sons-in-law: Jacquelyn and John Howard, Leilani and Tom Arendell, and Marla and Justin Tipton; his five grandchildren: Robert Thomas Howard, Lucas Daniel Tipton, Keilani Rose Arendell, Makaio Thomas Arendell, and Jack Kelvin Tipton; his mother, Helen Kruger; his brothers and sisters, Eldon Kruger, Karen Strom, Harlan Kruger, Teresa Herd, Roger Kruger and Jon Kruger; and many much-loved sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews and countless friends and extended family whom he cherished dearly.
Kelvin will always be remembered for his tough-guy exterior, but soft heart. He prided himself on being a strong man who took care of his family. He leaves behind a legacy of hard work, honesty, caring and persistence. Always wanting to be remembered as a hero, he succeeded in that desire. Not only do his family and friends believe he is a hero, but so do the other patients who knew him and who shared his diagnosis.
A Celebration of Life ceremony will be held at his ranch in Sunol on Saturday, July 16 at 1:30 pm. Please call (925) 456-4026 for more details if you would like to attend. The family requests that contributions be made to the International Myeloma Foundation in lieu of flowers. Please mail donations in memory of Kelvin Kruger to: International Myeloma Foundation, 12650 Riverside Dr. Suite 206, North Hollywood, CA 91607.