Keith E. Krause passed away in his sleep on the morning of Feb. 12, 2014, at the age of 79, after a long battle with leukemia. A well-attended celebration of Keith's life was held at the Hampton Inn Oak Hill hotel in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 22 at 11 a.m. A full military service was held at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio on Feb. 24, at 2:15 p.m.
Keith was born in Burwell, Neb., on Aug. 31, 1934. He was the eldest son of long time Sidney resident Doris R. Cronk.
Keith spent 26 years as an Air Force pilot and retired in Austin, Texas, as a Lieutenant Colonel. For the next ten years, he worked for the state of Texas until health challenges forced him to retire. Despite his declining health, Keith lived to the fullest of his ability for the next 21 years. He stayed as mentally sharp as ever to the end, and never lost his sense of humor.
Keith grew up in Sidney, Neb., and Peetz with his five younger brothers, Don Krause, Spencer, Ron, Phil and Jerry Cronk. As the eldest son in a difficult time, he was a role model for his younger brothers. Keith was kind and generous in this role, and paved the way by going to college and working hard, helping his parents and his brothers. At the age of 11, he and younger brother Don (10) had the responsibility of delivering The Omaha World Herald newspaper to the entire north side of Sidney. For many military personnel, hungry for war news as they traveled west by rail on troop trains in 1945, these two industrious youngsters were the welcoming face of Sidney as they, from the platform of the Union Pacific train depot, sold their newspapers for a nickel to the service men.
Keith was the valedictorian of his Peetz H.S. graduating class in 1952. An all-around athlete, he played football, basketball and baseball while attending Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, before attending Colorado School of Mines on a baseball scholarship, where he also played football. While at NJC, he became a member of Phi Theta Kappa, a scholastic honor society. Keith earned his undergraduate degree from University of Nebraska-Omaha and his master's degree from Auburn University. In 2011, he and four brothers were honored by the NJC Alumni Association at the 68th Annual Commencement Exercise. Of his many part time jobs in Sterling that helped pay for his education, his favorite was working for Basin Core. Two Sterling gentlemen who were positive influences in his life were Coach Roy Edwards of NJC and Mr. Moe Sandstedt, also an educator.
Keith met his soul mate, Mary, in Lubbock, Texas, while he was stationed at Reese AFB as a flight instructor. They married and embarked on a grand adventure that lasted over five decades as they traveled the world and raised their two children, Kathy and Kerry. They were an excellent team; they supported each other and inspired their children to do well. Kathy and Kerry both followed in the military tradition by serving as officers in the U.S. Navy before starting their careers in medicine and high tech.
Keith had a long and honorable career in the Air Force. He was a decorated combat pilot, a strong leader and friend to many. In 1965, he was deployed to the Vietnam War, where he flew over 100 missions, most of them hazardous sorties deep into North Vietnam while flying out of U'dorn. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, as well as 10 Air Medals. He later taught combat defensive maneuvers at Bergstrom AFB, and served as Chief of Flight Safety in Europe, while based at Ramstein, Germany.
Keith is survived by his wife, Mary Darby Krause; his daughter, Katherine Farady and son-in-law Michael Farady; his son, Kerry Krause and daughter-in-law Carrie Krause; his grandchildren, Allison, Emily and Ben Krause; his brothers, Don Krause and wife Ann of Denton, Texas, Spencer Cronk and wife Treva of Coarsegold, Calif., Ronald Cronk and wife LaDonna of Clarkdale, Ariz., Phillip Cronk of Arvada, and Jerry Cronk and wife Cheryl of Bellevue, Neb.; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and relatives. He was an extraordinary husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend, and will be greatly missed.
The family asks that any donations be made to a veterans'