Iowa Lions Transporter Gives Gift of Sight

Iowa Lions Transporter Gives Gift of Sight
Every Life Has a Story

Doug Kruse

(September 15, 1944 - February 11, 2019)

Doug Kruse lived a life of service. As a soldier in the US Army and staunch supporter of several veterans’ organizations, as a 25-year member of the Grinnell Lions Club, as a church elder, and as a sponsor of Special Olympics, he was always giving back to his country and his community. One of his final acts of selfless giving was as an eye and tissue donor, providing his corneas so that others could receive the gift of sight.

Doug was born on September 15, 1944, in Troy, Ohio, to Roy and Pauline Elias Kruse. He was raised on farms in Carroll and Crawford Counties in Iowa and was a 1962 graduate of Manning High School.  Doug attended Drake University in Des Moines prior to enlisting in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He served in the USA Army Security Agency in Europe from 1966-1970. After his honorable discharge, he received his AA degree from Marshalltown Community College.

Doug married his wife, Maralee McKibben, on June 6, 1965. Together they raised their three children; Michele, David, and Angie in Grinnell, Iowa.  Doug worked in sales before his retirement in 2012 and was a very active supporter of the Grinnell community. He was a member of the Immanuel Lutheran Church, the Red Rock Thrashers, the Manning VFW, Massey Harris Tractor Club, and the NRA.  Doug also worked with the Iowa Boys State Program through the American Legion.

Even with his tremendously busy schedule, Doug was a committed member of the Grinnell Lions Club, receiving the Warren Coleman award, and he volunteered for the Iowa Lions Transporter Program since its inception in 2009. During his tenure, Doug transported corneal tissue 61 times from Grinnell to the Iowa Lions Eye Bank main facility in Coralville for evaluation and processing, driving a total of 7,930 miles to help restore sight to others. Steve Halstead, the Coordinator for the Iowa Lions Transporters said, “I'm pretty sure he was scheduled at least once a month, nearly every month. I could always count on Doug to help.”

Doug’s passion for vision and helping others made it possible to restore sight to a 69-year-old man from southeast Iowa and a 76-year-old woman from Kansas. One of Doug’s fellow Grinnell Lions Club members, Greg Buntz, transported Doug’s donated tissue to Iowa Lions Eye Bank, just a day after his passing.

Doug’s family received great comfort from a letter they received from his Iowa recipient through the Iowa Lions Eye Bank Family Services correspondence program:

To my Donor Family,

I would like to say thank you for your loved one’s donation. I am very grateful that people consider organ, tissue, and eye donation, as I am a multiple cornea recipient.  I have had several issues and my donor corneas have allowed me to keep my eyesight and my eyes. I have been encouraging people to become donors, because I have experienced the benefits.  I hope you realize that your loss has meant healing for multiple others. 

Again, thank you.

The staff of Iowa Lions Eye Bank truly appreciates Doug’s unwavering devotion to restoring sight to others, and for all that he did for our organization as an Iowa Lions Transporter.  His legacy will continue through the countless cornea and tissue recipients who he has helped and healed.