Wednesday, September 17, 2008

William Crusius: In Memorium


William Crusius, R. R. Donnelley Staff Portrait

William Paul Crusius, cofounder of Graphic Conservation was an active member of the book and paper community for over 50 years. He passed away December 20, 2006 of cancer and has been greatly missed.

Born August 31, 1927 in Chicago to Rev. Carl and Helen Crusius , Bill grew up near Fullerton and Racine spending summers on Long Island, staying with his paternal grandparents. He attended Lane Tech Academy in Chicago often regaling us of tales of swimming classes in the nude, to shock us into laughter.

Upon graduating from Lane Tech, Bill first found work as a draftsman. As the story goes, one day his boss made him so mad he felt he couldn’t take it anymore. He walked over, gave his boss a good kick in the seat of his pants and went home. Bill, obviously needing new employment, was referred to apply to R. R. Donnelley as an apprentice through his brother who worked there as a draftsman before he left for W.W.II. Bill assumed he would be working as a draftsman as well, however, he was instead assigned as an apprentice in the Extra Bindery. Bill always claimed it was out of sheer chance, but whether chance or foresight on the part of his early overseers, Bill was placed in an environment where he could shine.


Bill Making paper at R. R. Donnelley

Learning the dual crafts of Master bookbinding as well as book and paper conservation, Bill quickly showed great aptitude. Over the course of his 33 years at R. R. Donnelley, Bill rose to the head of his department, and when the Extra Bindery was closed in 1982, Bill, along with his coworker Robert Wienberg, bought out the department to start Graphic Conservation, where he continued to work until his death in 2006.


Bill inpainting a document at Graphic Conservation

A specialist in the conservation of works of art on paper, Bill was elected a Fellow of the AIC in 1982. Bill was highly dedicated to his many clients, many of which lasted over a period of 25 years. He was also committed and instrumental in the training of future generations of paper conservators who now work all over the country. Of all who worked with Bill, we knew him to be kind, generous, detail oriented, patriotic and lover of puns.

I came to know Bill during our time together here at Graphic Conservation. On any given day, Bill could be seen sauntering into the lab in his typical loafers, black jeans, and short sleeved button down shirt smelling of the pipe tobacco he had smoked on his morning commute to work. His was famous for his crossword prowess at the break table as well as being an aficionado of spicy foods. Bill was most particular in his demands of a good salsa which he said the best resided at La Pasada near Ashland and Division. It was here he spent his daily lunch hour, and the staff there came to know him so well, he never needed to speak his order. Upon sitting down at the counter, Bill would wave to the the waitress who knew one finger pointed on each hand indicated an order of a chicken and steak taco, and two fingers on the same hand asked for two chicken tacos only. It never needed to be added he would be washing it all down with a can of coke which always appeared with his complimentary bowl of chips and sides of salsa verde.


Bill with the remnants of his daily lunch at his favorite
Taco spot, De Pasada.


In addition to enjoying his work as a conservator, Bill was happily married for 55 years to his dear wife Jane. He was dedicated to his family, and together, they raised their four loving children, nine grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. An avid fisherman, Bill spent his summer vacations in Green Lake, Wisconsin every year trolling for the illusive pike and walleye. He was also a skilled gardener, wood carver and a 50 year Bears season ticket holder.


Bill looking out over his home town from the Sears Tower

My last day working with Bill, I remember he looked over to me and said, “Well, Kiddo, its been a ride.” Yes, Bill, it certainly was. For all that you taught us and all you brought to our lives, you will be fondly remembered and so greatly missed.

1 comment:

Susan Wojtkiewicz said...

Bill was my uncle and to read your blog brought me to tears. I will miss him and fishing with him, pipe and all, very much. He was there for our family when my dad died and I know that my brothers and sister miss him, too.

Thanks for the memories,

Susan Wojtkiewicz
Las Vegas, NV