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Wilma Kruger, a life-long resident of the area, doesn’t recall when she began entering the competitions at the Fayette County Fair; she only remembers that it has been many years.
But records show that she has won a lot of ribbons in several categories … just as she did this year.
She doesn’t boast about her winning fair entries, but she is proud of the fact that three generations of her family showed at the fair this year. Her daughter, Mary, and a granddaughter, Keri, also had fair entries.
Wilma (Brazle) Kruger grew up north of Brownstown and now lives with her husband, Joe, near the Fayette County Fairgrounds in Brownstown. Talented in many ways, she has always entered several categories – including garden produce, canning, needlework, baking, flowers, decorative arrangements, crafts and beautiful quilts – in the county fair competitions, and has won many ribbons.
As a young girl, she wanted to be a teacher or a nurse, but her parents had other ideas.
“When I was a senior in high school, I won a scholarship to go to a teaching college, but my parents never encouraged me,” Wilma said.
“Girls were supposed to stay at home, keep house and have babies,” she said. However, three of her children are in nursing or education.
“But I did go to work in Vandalia, with the county nurse, Edith Hauseman, when I was 18, until I was married.
"Then, Frank (Rook), my husband, was in the military service, so we traveled a lot. We lived in Indiana and Colorado, then we came back to this area to settle down,” she said.
“I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse, but I’ve always said, as a mother, you get to be a teacher and a nurse,” she said.
“And,” she said, “God has always blessed me with the ability to hold down good jobs in the work field.
“I worked in the county collector’s office for several years, and I retired as an accountant for the state. After my kids were grown, I started taking college classes,” Wilma said.
“I never got my degree, like I thought I would, but that’s OK – I had a good career, and although there has been some bumps in the road, I’ve had a really good life.”
She is humbly appreciative of her life and her home.
“I never thought that I would have as nice a place to live as I do,” she said, expressing regret that her first husband, Frank Rook, died so soon after the house was built, before he really fully enjoyed the house.
Her husband, Joe Kruger, built on a family room, a large, comfortable, informal room with beautifully finished wood beams visibly supporting the high-peaked ceiling.
Artistically gifted, Wilma painted a border along the walls, accenting the beauty of the beams. She also painted a colorful border around the living room ceiling.
Wilma has always loved to go fishing, but admits she hasn’t gone much lately. She has had health problems in recent years, but said medication keeps her on an even keel.
Quilts & Other Things
She helps her husband tend their vegetable and flower garden, from which she harvests winning entries for the county fair, canned and fresh. A particularly attractive prize-winning entry was a basket of vegetables, including a healthy-looking ear of corn.
She has on display in a glass-doored cabinet in her living room quilts that were made by her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Wilma has made quilts for her children and grandchildren, and is still filling the need as her family grows.
She is compassionate and has also ministered to others, for example, by picking and taking fresh blackberries to the delight of an ill child.
Wilma remembers and looks on the late Ruby Goldsborough as her role model. Ruby was well-known for her faithfulness in contributing winning entries in many categories for the fair for as long as she was able.
Wilma plans to support the Fayette County Fair, like her role model, as long as she is able.
She is content with her life with Joe, and proud of her children and grandchildren.
She was preparing a collage of her mother’s (the late Lilly Brazle) old photographs for a family reunion to which she is looking forward. Her appearance, attitude and enthusiasm belies her age.
Wilma Kruger is a winner, not only in the county fair categories, but also in the categories of wife, mother, friend and neighbor.