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Veteran with Cary ties wins state honor

Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 5:15 p.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014 8:36 a.m. CST

CARY – A familiar face to longtime Cary residents was honored by the state for his lifetime of community service.

Robert Krautstrunk was named Veteran of the Month by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Krautstrunk, a Navy veteran of World War II, owned Cary Finer Foods back in the 1980s and donated freely of his time and money to local causes, his son Kurt said.

“My dad has always been someone that when it comes time to volunteer, when there’s something that needed to be done, he’ll raise his hand,” Kurt Krautstrunk said.

The elder Krautstrunk never lived in McHenry County, but made sure to give back to the community in which his customers lived. He did what he could to make sure area food pantries’ shelves were stocked along with his own, and he helped sponsor a village Little League team as well as the annual Cary Days festival.

Krautstrunk, now living in Grayslake, received the honor at a July 18 ceremony in Des Plaines.

“It was awesome, more than I expected and more than I deserve, I certainly didn’t think I was entitled to it, but I’m very happy and very proud to have it,” he said.

Krautstrunk joined the Navy in January 1944 and was eventually assigned to the submarine USS Requin as a Radioman 2nd Class, but the war ended with the Japanese surrender just weeks after the sub reported to Pearl Harbor for its first combat mission. He returned to the Chicago area after his May 1946 discharge.

His volunteer work includes more than 1,500 volunteer hours at homeless shelters and what is now Presence Holy Family Medical Center in Des Plaines, as well as coaching youth baseball and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and Trinity Lutheran Church in Des Plaines. Krautstrunk is presently the Illinois state commander of Submarine Veterans of World War II.

Krautstrunk’s ties to McHenry County began in 1983 when he opened his grocery store. The store closed when he retired in 1990. His son and daughter, Gale Burke, both live in the county.

Krautstrunk and his wife Ruth will celebrate their 69th anniversary later this year. They have six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

One of his current projects is to raise funds to build a monument in Chicago to World War II submariners and the little-known shipyard in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where a number of submarines were built. The submarines took the Chicago River to make their way to the ocean.

For information on the project or to make a donation, visit http://shawurl.com/1bfp.

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