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Fredrick Christian Kruger, professor emeritus of applied earth sciences, and an internationally known geologist and engineer who was as comfortable in industry as he was in academia, died at his home in Woodside, Calif. Feb. 9. He was 84.
Kruger, known to his friends and colleagues as "Fritz," served as chairman of the department of applied earth sciences at Stanford from 1966 until his retirement in 1977. He was also associate dean for research in the School of Earth Sciences from 1972 until 1977. Before arriving at Stanford, Kruger was the chief geologist and vice president for the mining and exploration division of International Minerals and Chemical Corp. He also taught at Dartmouth College, Northwestern University and the University of Tennessee.
Kruger, a native of St. Paul, Minn., earned a bachelor's degree in geology and chemistry and a master's in geology and metallurgy from the University of Minnesota in 1935 and 1936, respectively. He earned his doctorate in geology from Harvard University in 1941.
His daughter, Jan Christian Kruger Anderson, recalls that as a young woman, she asked her father where his old class notes from his days as a teaching fellow at Harvard were. ³Well,² he told her, ³after every class I destroyed them, because I didn¹t want to be tempted to stay in academia.² He explained that the best professors he¹d known had enjoyed long careers in industry. ³He wanted to be the best when he returned to academia,² Anderson said.
Kruger so distinguished himself in industry that Professor Emeritus Evan Just, former head of what was then the department of mineral engineering, was surprised when Kruger even considered coming to Stanford.
"When I retired, it was up to me to find a successor, and when Dean [Richard] Jahns suggested Fritz, I was quite surprised, because he had quite a prestigious job. Even though we were old friends, I was rather surprised that Fritz would take the job because he would take quite a substantial cut in salary. The only way I can explain it is that he had a genuine interest in helping young people, which was borne out by his efforts here," Just said.
Marco Einaudi, the Welton Joseph and Maud L'Anphere Crook Professor of Applied Earth Sciences, described Kruger as an imposing figure whose elegant dark business suits gave him the look of a corporate executive, but whose softness and gentleman-like manner endeared him to his students and colleagues. Einaudi credited Kruger with merging the practical and the academic. "Dick Jahns was trying to set up a department that had an applied bent. Fritz Kruger was part of the early development of that department of applied earth sciences," Einaudi recalled.
Kruger, along with his wife, Helene Anderson Kruger, won the hearts of many of his students, often opening their home for seminars and other gatherings around their fireplace, recalls one of those students, Christopher J. Recny, M.A. '78.
"He was never too busy for his students," Recny remembers of his adviser. "And he never took advantage of any of his students to further his own research ends. By the time he got to Stanford he had already made his mark in the world. He was in the giving back phase of his life," Recny said. Of all his undergraduate and graduate years, Recny added, "the year I spent with him was unquestionably the most influential."
In addition to Helene, of Woodside, and Jan, of Chappaqua, N.Y., Kruger is survived by his two grandchildren, Avery Christian Anderson and Ethan Hunter Anderson, and his son-in-law, Robert Steven Anderson, also of Chappaqua.
A memorial service is being planned for later this year.
By Elaine Ray