Remembering Johnye Cruse, Artist

We had planned for a Johnye Cruse “Celebration of Life” party for June 20, 2020. Due to the Covid-19 response, we are not going to have that at this time. We appreciate who she was. She had the strongest self-image of anyone we know, and passed that great gift on to us.

all those who planned on attending but feel the risk of a large gathering is too great. In lieu of that celebration we the children of Johnye, would like to share our thoughts from our perspective concerning her most splendid life. Our Mom was a force to be reckoned with, she was our rock. At all times she was there for each of us, teaching us every aspect of life and then expecting us to repeat it well. We did not have to be the best, but did have to try our best.

She and our dad did not give us everything we wanted but taught us to work for what we wanted. Mom developed many strong character qualities in us that have served us well all through our lives. Whatever any of wanted to do, she figured out what she could do to support us, and how she could improve anything about the process.

Mom did not spend much on her own clothes, she wore stretch pants and a sweatshirt most of the time, often bought secondhand so we could have new. She didn’t care as she knew Music was a big part of our lives, Dena in the band and Noel, April, & Rex in music in the Dynamics, a select 24-voice swing choir that really rocked. We won every Swing Choir Festival we attended. She sewed costumes for years of musical productions and hung wall paper into the night helping us build our sets.

She started the football booster club in the 60s, initiated Thursday night spaghetti feeds (I bet they are still going on) and was the official team statistician for years. If something needed doing, she got it done.

Several of us got into a year-round AAU swim team. Mom had us in the pool at 6:00 am six days a week all year round, year after year. Can you imagine the drive and dedication that took, not to mention she carted us all over the State many weekends for swim meets.

Mom was a fundraising genius. She did it with such resolve that infected the less motivated parents and turned them into champions. In 1970 April’s Dynamic’s group decided they wanted to tour Panama the following summer. Mom kicked fundraising into gear by making, packaging and selling hundreds of pounds of peanut brittle. Our rec-room had a summer kitchen and became peanut brittle central manufacturing. We went through two 100-lb bags of raw peanuts, hundreds of pounds of sugar, and hundreds of hours of conscripted family labor. She then got it out to other families to sell, but really she sold most of it by setting a table up everywhere she could think of and with the force of her will compelling people to buy it. The Girl Scouts had nothing on our Mom.

Mom decided the Edmonds School District 15 needed a varsity swim team for one of her kids. For three years she lobbied the school board, who had zero funds to add another sport. She dragged us up to testify at board meetings. The third year she made it clear she would not be denied, and made them an offer they could no refuse. She proposed the District rent the pools for practice and swim meets with two teams per pool, and the parent boosters would raid the money for the coaches salaries (the biggest budget item) for 3 years and after that the District would pick up all costs. They agreed, if she could raise the money for six coaches to cover each high school team. I think they had to agree to get rid of her. Mom got busy and formed 6 separate booster clubs at each school and tasked them to raise their coach’s salary, and they did it. That was in 1972 and it is still a varsity sport in that District.

In high school, if one of us went to our Union Building, most days you would find Mom at a table promoting or selling something related to us, her kids. These are just a few examples of what she did over and over again with 5 kids and all their activities of which she did not miss a single one.

Many of you know Mom was an only child and she did not like it. After Dena, her second child Royce Lynn died shortly after birth of multiple birth defects. She then suffered through several miscarriages. The doctors said her baby maker was broken, and she should not try to have more kids. Stopping a one female child was not a history she planned on repeating. She went on to have four more children.

No story of Mom would be complete without including Dad – NM Cruse to others or just “Cruse”. They met shortly after the war and married in 1947. And had a love affair that spanned 53 years. They were very symbiotic and spent very few nights apart over those years. One would start a story, the other would interrupt to finish and they would argue over the details. They did not carry anything negative to the next day. Mom was the great woman behind her great man. Dad supported our family, so she could go all out supporting us kids.

Their lives in Washington were divided between 20 years raising kids in North Seattle and 45 years mostly in Pateros, WA. Connie being the youngest was the only kid still in school when they relocated, and graduated from Pateros High School. Mom supported Dad in his service on the City Council and for a term as Mayor. Mom became a part of the team that for years planned and operated the yearly town fair, Apple Pie Jamboree. Mom was an avid :Gramma Fro” fan at CoCo and Josh’s sporting events. The “fro” was a nickname that stuck to her because of her signature big perm ball of hair.

Mom began to paint and over time became an accomplished artist. Many of you have seen her Country Art painting and perhaps a few own a print or an original. Dad fell in with her work and became an expert at matting and framing.

Dad passed in 1999, and it was rough on Mom. They were almost the same person. She just wanted to go and be with him. It took nearly three years for her to come to the place of accepting that she was going to live for some time and she began to chart a new course.

Dena also a widow by that time developed a very close relationship with Mom. As Mom’s health began to decline Dena stepped up the last 5+ years as her caregiver. Dena’s labor of love over those years to our Mom, is something we other kids will never be able to repay. We are so grateful for her service to Mom and our family. In caring so well for Mom, she allowed her to remain at home until her passing.

Mom trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as her savior. We prayed with her just hours before her passing to commend her spirit to the Lord in the hope of the resurrection. We know that she is now in Glory reunited with dad and our Lord, who we trust to the saving of our souls.

Any stories of Johnye that anyone would like the family to have would be appreciated, and can be posted on Facebook page Johnye Cruse Memories or emailed to

We, her children feel so grateful, so privileged to have had a Mom such as ours. Thanks Mom, for being who you were in your unique way, and for loving us beyond measure right until the end. We miss you every day, and will have to settle for our memories, until we meet again.


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