June 17, 1931-Nov. 4, 2017

Frank Cruz passed away peacefully on Nov. 4, 2017. 

Born June 17, 1931 in Butte, Montana, Frank, a fifth generation Montanan, spent his early years in Whitehall, Montana. While attending Whitehall High School he learned from his mentor, Hiney Lund, the importance of teachers and coaches in a young person’s life. He also met and fell in love with a funny, smart, beautiful girl, Kathleen Shaw, when he, as the football captain, crowned her homecoming princess.

After high school Frank joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the USS Cotton. He traveled the world while supporting the Korean War effort. These times traveling the world gave Frank a depth of understanding of the world that he brought back to Montana.

Upon returning he married Kathleen, entered Montana State University and started his family. He graduated with a teaching degree and immediately put to use his skills. Teaching was a calling for Frank and he lived the calling to the fullest. Not only did he teach biology and government, he gave to students his unwavering dedication to them as people.  It was on the basketball court that he is probably best known. As head coach he led four of his teams to state tournaments, two ending in championships. He was the kind of coach that could see potential in every person and bring out the best they had. It was with pride he wore the title Coach Cruz.

Frank retired from teaching and coaching in 1986 and moved with his wife to Arizona. While in Arizona Frank found a new passion in woodworking. Many a day was spent in his shop laying out intricate patterns in exotic and foraged woods to make gifts for the people he loved. Like all the gifts Frank possessed he valued them most when he could share them.

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Frank is survived by his wife of 65 years, Kathleen; daughter, Connie (Bill) Markley, Phoenix, Arizona; son, Franklin “Elroy” Cruz, Phoenix, Arizona; son, Mike (Maryann) Cruz, Bozeman, Montana; daughter, Liz (Jon) Hjelmseth, Bellingham, Washington; grandchildren, Troy, Candice, Deserae, Keith, Kathleen, Jenifer and Leigh; and great-grandchildren, Falishia, Charlie Rose, David, Caden, and Matt.  His best life lesson to the people he loved was, “You need to love the whole person, not just the easy parts.”

The family will be planning a celebration of Frank’s life that will be announced at a later time.  Memorial contributions can be made to the Manhattan Public School Foundation, P.O. Box 1223, Manhattan, Montana 59741.

the life of: Frank Cruz, 86
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