On February 3, we lost Mike Kruglinski, our quiet hero, after a 5-year long battle with prostate cancer. With “Let It Be” playing in the background, he transitioned peacefully surrounded by family who loved him dearly. While we are profoundly sad and will be grief-stricken for some time, we are also enormously proud of who Mike was, the wonderful life he led, and the things he accomplished.
The second of four children born to parents who died very young in life, he provided leadership beyond his years to his younger siblings as they grew. He was an academic scholar “whiz-kid” (Northern Bergen High School Class of ’67) who chose a proud union working-class life as a railroader, husband, big brother, and dad over anything else he could have been. He was who he wanted to be and that was someone with a gentle look, an open mind, a helping hand, a smile and consistent good cheer for the large majority of days and thousands of souls he touched during his time on this earth.
He married a beautiful woman, Diane Stromenger, who loved and stood by him as a faithful companion for almost 48 years. She took care of him every single one of those days and was the rock that Mike depended on. He and Diane had two wonderful kids, Michael Francis and Kathryn Ann, and raised them to be just as hard-working, conscientious, and good-natured as they were. Both children married great people who have become very natural extensions of the family (Melissa Vatalaro and Ryan Ehrhart) and gave their parents four beautiful grandchildren: Lucas, Travis, Addison and James. Mike reveled in his growing family and they learned from him what it was to be an exemplary parent and grandparent (affectionately known as Baba and Grandpa).
Mike and Diane were also travelers—the ocean cruise being their preferred mode. Over the years they took 43 cruises, numerous vacations, and saw much of the world together often in the company of good friends and family.
A railroad reorganization brought Mike and his family from their homestead in Bloomfield, NJ to Gardiner, New York in 1999, where Mike—always a walker—became an avid hiker in the nearby Shawangunks. Nothing better than a good 5-mile hike in the woods, some stunning views, and a cold beer afterward to settle one’s soul. He was solitary by nature, but you would never know it unless you knew him well because Mike was always such a joy to be with. Nature gave him this solitude as did an endless immersion in literature.
He was a lifelong learner and voracious reader since childhood.
Mike took up civic action in his retirement, having been passionate about social justice and politics since his college days protesting the Vietnam war. For the last decade, as chair of the Gardiner Democratic Committee, with Barbara Sides as Vice-Chair, he helped the Gardiner Democrats elect many great candidates and gained a reputation across Ulster County for his intellect, dignity, sharp political instincts, and thoughtful counsel in campaigns. His loss is a significant blow to his community.
There will be no viewing or immediate service as Mike chose to donate his remains to medical research.
We will announce an event to celebrate his life in the near future.