As of Wednesday, December 12, 2018
James Bernhardt Krueger was born to Ruth Estelle (Nelson) and Leroy Vivian Krueger on Oct. 23, 1940, in Peter’s Nursing Home, Sunnyside.
On Nov. 23, 2018, he joined his parents in his Eternal Home.
He was a very intelligent, creative, smart and clever man.
Jim graduated from Sunnyside High School in 1959, where he played saxophone in the school band, was a member of the Order of DeMolay and oversaw the lighting in the school plays.
Jim also studied at Yakima Community College, Weber College in Ogden, Utah and The College of Guam in Agana. During his more than 20 years of service in the Air Force, he went from Little Rock AFB, Ark., to the Pentagon, earning many awards, medals and letters of appreciation along the way.
He was PRIDE Airman of the Month while at Little Rock and got to drive a brand, new Mercury Cougar, which was announced as “Cougar’s Krueger” when presented.
He completed many military training courses including ‘Soviet Military Power Week’ and the U.S. Naval Justice School. He was assigned to Tan Son Nhut AB, Republic of Vietnam where he received the Air Force Commendation Medal. Returning to the U.S.A., he was assigned to FE Warren AFB, Cheyenne, Wyo., where he met his future wife, Sgt. Bridget Gilewitch working in the Orderly Room. The couple dated in Wyoming and Colorado, sharing a love of trains, especially steam locomotives which they ‘chased’ in Jim’s 1960 Thunderbird, whenever they could.
Next it was Offutt AFB, NE for Jim while Bridget was assigned to Clark AB, Philippines. After a few months apart, Jim wanted to get married. The couple flew to Hawaii and were married on March 25, 1970. After two wonderful weeks in Hawaii, Bridget went back to Clark AB and Jim to Offutt for eight months. When finally reunited, they bought a beautiful Marlette Trailer in Bellevue, Neb., and continued to ‘chase’ their steam locomotives. They also bought a 1976 Dodge Maxi Van with one seat and a sun visor and all the things Jim wanted. When the warranty expired, Jim rewired the van, so it started with push buttons and no key. They designed and installed all they needed to have a comfortable place to live while traveling to visit Jim’s family in Sunnyside and Bridget’s in El Paso, Texas. They also joined a small van club and enjoyed the campouts (runs) and other activities and were members of the Henry Doorley Zoo. Then it was the Pentagon for Jim while Bridget stayed in Nebraska, until base housing became available. Bridget sold the beautiful Marlette and joined Jim in Washington, D.C.
Jim was an active duty MSGT in the Air Force Reserve Unit. While there they joined a much larger van club with over 100 members and Jim became club treasurer. They began to show the “Van” winning trophies and other awards for electronics and lights.
The club sponsored an event in Haymarket, Va., in 1980 that drew so many vans they filled three campgrounds.
You don’t see that any more. They were also frequent visitors to the Smithsonian Museum. Jim retired Sept. 1, 1983 and moved back to Sunnyside to help his widowed mother. He and Bridget sold Watkins products for a while, winning a trip to Acapulco. The couple joined Central Washington Vans, QED in Yakima and continued to show the van, winning many awards. The van was featured twice in “Custom Vanner” magazine and Jim was stunned and very proud when an admirer saw the van at a show in Cashmere and asked him to sign his copy of the article.
Jim worked in every auto-parts store (except NAPA) in Sunnyside and had a loyal following because he treated everyone with respect and did his best to get them the right part the first time.
Jim is sincerely and deeply missed especially by his wife, Bridget, cat Skeezix, and sister Linda Lee Howard.
The Celebration of Life with a military honors ceremony will be at 1 p.m., March 23, 2019 at the Sunnyview VFW Post 3482, 615 North Ave.
Please bring memory of Jim for his wife Bridget.
Condolences may be left for the family using our online guestbook at www.valleyhillsfh.com.