Dr. Robert “Kruck” Dale Kruckeberg, Jr. is being remembered by his colleagues not only for the value he brought to students in Troy University classrooms, but also for the meaning and laughter he brought to so many lives.
Kruckeberg passed away at his home, surrounded by family, on December 27, after a courageous bout with cancer. He was 43.
“I was profoundly saddened to hear of Dr. Kruckeberg’s death,” said Dr. Steven Taylor, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Rob was a valued member of the History faculty and a truly wonderful person. He will be missed and my heart goes out to his family. I know his colleagues throughout the College feel the same.”
An Associate Professor of History, Kruckeberg had been a member of the TROY faculty since fall 2012. He was known as a passionate scholar, but even more than that, Kruckeberg was known as a trusted colleague and friend, who was armed with a tremendous sense of humor and a laugh that was contagious.
“Rob had recently received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. He was looking forward to beginning sabbatical in Fall 2020 during which time he planned to write on his monograph about early modern France. Instead, he learned of his cancer and began treatments,” said Dr. Allen Jones, Chair of the Department of History and Philosophy. “We in History will miss Kruck’s collegiality, not least of all his sardonic humor, and that laugh.”
Dr. Tim Buckner said Kruckeberg’s genuineness was a quality that made him one of his favorite colleagues.
“The best thing about working at TROY is the people, and Rob was one of my favorite people at TROY,” Buckner said. “A few weeks before he took a turn for the worse, I ran across this line from Thelonious Monk: ‘A genius is the one most like himself.’ Rob was always himself, and it was the thing I most admired about him. He was clear where he stood on everything and would tell you why you were wrong if you disagreed, but he always did it with a sense of humor. Figuring out his sense of humor could be a challenge, though, and countless students undoubtedly thought he was “mean” because they had not figured it out yet. The ones who figured it out loved him.”
Buckner said he would always remember the conversations the two had about the “state of the world.”
“We spent hours commiserating and complaining over the state of the world, and even though we never came up with solutions for any of it, those conversations were the things I’ll remember the most fondly. Well, that or hearing him yelling something through the wall, sometimes in French, at almost the exact same time every morning,” Buckner said. “He was a great colleague and even better friend.”
Dr. Margaret Gnoinska, a colleague from the History faculty, served on the committee that helped bring Kruckeberg to TROY. The two became close colleagues and friends through the years through their service together on the Faculty Senate, as well as assisting with University events such as International Education Week and the Honors Convocation, among other community and University efforts.
“There are so many great memories I will cherish and simply too many to list. He was a compassionate teacher, a respected scholar in his field and an integral member of the University, who devoted his time and energy to making our school a better place,” Gnoinska said. “What I will miss about Rob are our endless conversations about everything and anything related to school and life, his wit, his intellect, and his beautiful humanity. But, most of all, I will miss his deep, genuine laughter, making even the worst day much better.”
Buckner said Kruckeberg accomplished much during his life.
“Rob achieved a tremendous amount. He earned a PhD from Michigan, one of the top history programs in the country,” he said. “He published his work, earned tenure, and traveled the world presenting his research at conferences. He got to see the Chicago Cubs win a World Series. Most meaningfully, this year, he married and became a father.”
It was truly the latter that Kruckeberg treasured most, Jones said.
“Another of Rob’s recent goals was to adopt Praiselynn, the daughter of his wife Jamie Sessions,” Jones said. “Proceedings in August were delayed due to COVID-19, but Rob and Jamie persevered. As Rob’s condition worsened in late December, he basically willed himself to live long enough to finish this last item on his to-do list. Rob adopted Praiselynn as his daughter on December 23.”
Kruckeberg is survived by his wife, Jamie Sessions; daughter, Praiselynn Sessions; brother, Jason Kruckeberg; sister, Linda Dillard; nieces, Brianna Kruckeberg, Sage Outlaw, and Megan Henderson (Tyler); nephews, Jeffery and Tyler Dillard, and Slade Outlaw; mother-in-law, Barbara Sessions; and sister-in-law, Elizabeth Outlaw (William). He was preceded in death by his father, Robert Dale Kruckeberg, Sr.; and father-in-law, James “Gary” Sessions.
A memorial service celebrating his life will be held Sunday, January 3, 2021, at 2 p.m. at Green Hills Memorial Cemetery (behind the mausoleum). Honorary condolers will be his colleagues from the Troy University Department of History and Philosophy.
In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions may be made in his honor to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105).