Ben Kruse 1976-2004
One of the people who helped come up with the idea and was there to help organize in our first four summers was my brother, Ben. He loved our tournament because he knew it was honest and truly something good; from the heart. It was always a reunion of friendships for him with friends flying in from San Francisco, Oregon, as well as New York. It was a celebration of life and at the same time, some hard work and dedication to helping other people. Ben is no longer with us due to a tragic accident in August of 2004 that took him from us suddenly. His memorial fund fittingly was 18 FORE Life and brought in over $20,000 to the charity that he loved. That is something that he would be very proud of. His spirit will carry on and his name will help our charity grow and raise even more money in the future.
The Ben Kruse 18 FORE Life Charity Golf Event will be held next June 29-30. Mark your calendars and join us for a special weekend of events. Ben and I always dreamed of making this charity bigger than other people assumed we could. Now I am very determined to see those dreams come true. With Ben’s help and guidance, we will do just that. He will be smiling big watching us each step of the way. An example I would like to share with you is Norm Stewart coming to join us in Dexter. Ben mentioned this the very first year when we were a very small charity with little direction. In 2005, it happened and was a dream come true.
To add a little more about my brother and best friend: I was six years older than him. He always wanted to “tag” along and hang out with me and my older friends. I am so thankful that overall, I didn’t mind him being around. We grew up laughing, fighting, competing, but most of all loving. We developed a relationship that was a unique one built on friendship, love, support, and respect for one another.
One of the many gifts Ben gave to me over the years would be the enthusiasm for golf in which he forced me into! Ben always said I would play and I always said that he was crazy. As usual, Ben wasn’t wrong. He not only got me playing and enjoying it, but took on the task of teaching me, along with my Dad, Mom, Amy, Kerri, Kip, and countless others, how to improve. His patience was incredible, his knowledge and feel for the game was awesome. His temper was non-existent, something he failed to pass on to me. His swing was almost perfect and something I can still picture vividly in my memory.
The golf course grew into a place we could spend time together. We enjoyed each time out. The laughs, the high-fives, the hooting and hollering, beer-drinking, the broken clubs are all memories that will live on forever. This spirit is what our charity is all about. Ben personified so many things that are good in the world. He enjoyed being around other people, sharing good times, helping others, playing golf, and that is what 18 FORE Life is about. We miss seeing him out there. I miss the hugs and high fives, along with the great advice and the opportunity to see that beautiful, fundamentally perfect golf swing. But you can know that Ben will be there watching every birdie or eagle putt, along with every horrible shot that brings hysterical laughter from everyone present. I said at the 2005 banquet, “He will laugh his ass of at all of the horrible shots, but when the exciting ones are made, he will be looking for someone to hi-five!” He is smiling that smile down on all of us. We miss you Buzz!