Monte Lee Kruse

Monte Lee Kruse

July 12, 1955 – February 15, 2021

Monte Lee Kruse died suddenly on Feb. 15, 2021, from cardiac arrest at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Monte was born on July 12, 1955, in Little Rock, Iowa to Everly and Francis Kruse. He grew up on a farm north of Little Rock and graduated from Little Rock High School in 1973. Monte was a talented athlete who excelled as a baseball pitcher. He was known especially for his fastball. After being drafted by the Chicago White Sox, he chose instead to attend Creighton University, where he pitched for the team.

Following college, Monte lived and worked in a variety of places throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. He was stationed in Germany while serving in the U.S. Army. He also lived in Israel for a time. While studying at Creighton under the tutelage of celebrated photographer Don Doll, S.J., Monte developed a love of photography, which stayed with him throughout his life. He worked as a photographer and photojournalist, travelling the world, before settling in Omaha.

He became part of Omaha’s Bemis Art Center, working and living in the original Bemis building and collaborating with such artists as Terry Rosenberg in NYC and Steve Joy in the UK.  Monte had recently finished a two-year photo project capturing the surreal beauty of urban landscapes at night, which culminated in a show at the Garden of the Zodiac Gallery in the Old Market.

Monte loved life and all who were a part of his. He enjoyed lively conversation and a good meal, seasoned with his wicked sense of humor. He will be deeply missed by many for whom he was a guiding light of hope and inspiration. He was a unique man—creative, driven, kind and caring, ever sensitive to his surroundings and to the many people with whom he worked and was friends with.  He was a true artist of the highest caliber. He had a tremendous passion for his craft, as evidenced by the captivating camera images he created.

Monte is survived by his brother, Mark (Ann) Kruse of Burlington, Iowa; nephews, Stephen of Boston and John of Warrensburg, MO; aunt, Shirley Knock of Sioux Falls; cousins; and last but not least, his many fellow “art pirates” with whom he sailed the seas of creativity. He was preceded in death by his loving parents.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a gathering (party) in his memory will be held at a later date in Omaha. An interment of ashes will also be held at a later date at Pleasant View Cemetery in Little Rock.

Memorials can be sent to the family at Kruse, P.O. Box 581, Burlington, Iowa 52601.  All memorials will be applied to the preservation and archiving of his art work as well as completion of his book that was nearly finished at the time of his death.


  • Harlan and Virginia Klaassen Posted February 21, 2021 9:22 pm

    Mark and family you have our deepest sympathy. I had just featured Monte in the Little Rock Free Lance where I am editor, with his showing at the Zodiac Gallary in Omaha, which he dedicated to your parents and Shirley Kruger. This was a shock to here he had passed away..
    Your first cousins here in Little Rock, Harlan and Virginia Klaassen

  • GORDON KUIPER Posted February 24, 2021 7:21 pm

    We knew Monte very well, as we were their neighbors for many years. I also taught both Monte and Mark in high school. Monte was a great pitcher and a great photographer. One of his earliest photographic accomplishments was photos of older Little Rock residents, which included Lora’s grandmother Lilli Eberline and her niece Kate. We have so many great memories of him and he told us many times of his trips and experiences abroad. We express our deepest sympathies to Mark and the family. Monte will be greatly missed.

  • Stu Christians Posted February 25, 2021 4:43 pm

    Mark, Family and all Monte’s fans & friends;
    I have the most fond memories of Monte. He always was so interesting, fun and a faithful friend! It has been decades since I last talked to him; however, if we had been given the opportunity…it would have been the 70s revisited. I had the pleasure of catching him from Little League through HS. We also shared some floor time in basketball.
    Time flies!
    Monte – Rest In Peace…Blessed be your memories!

  • LaMonte S Freerks Posted February 25, 2021 7:05 pm

    Rest in peace Mont Lee. He could throw that old speedball by you. Make you look like a fool.

  • Nicole Posted March 12, 2021 2:41 pm

    Monte was my neighbor at the Bemis for many years. He was always so nice and made my young daughter laugh whenever we bumped in to him in the halls. He was a unique and sweet and fun human being and I’m so very very sorry for your loss.

  • Steve Joy Posted March 12, 2021 6:03 pm

    I was in Europe when I heard that Monte had passed away…I am still here and awaiting restrictions on travel to ease .
    I have missed Omaha very much during this time ,and Monte, with his exuberance, wit ,charm and love of life ,was a large part of what makes Omaha special..I am still reeling from the news, and have thought of Monte every day , remembering that his presence in my life and his enthusiasm for his art was central to the core of Omaha’s creative impetus .
    I am sorry to not be able to be Omaha at this time..
    I will carry memories of Monte with me , just as I smiled to myself when I thought of him in the past, so will I in the future.

  • Carla D Chiapella Posted May 14, 2022 10:15 am

    I am so sorry to hear that Monte passed. He was a free spirit. I attended Creighton at the same time he was there. He gave me black and white photos that he took during that time period, for safe keeping. I have two Creighton publications of Shadows, with his photos as well. Please contact me if you would like to have them.

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