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The late Arthur “Art” A. Kruger, ’33, a pioneer in the field of deaf sports, has been selected as Gallaudet’s Visionary Leader for October.
Known as the Father of the American Athletic Association of the Deaf (AAAD), the predecessor of the U.S. Deaf Sports Federation (USDSF), Kruger organized deaf sports clubs into regions across the country and generated interest in deaf sports through his writing to generate publicity.

Kruger was also well known for getting the U.S. involved in the World Games for the Deaf, known today as the Deaflympics, through his writing and his many connections in the field of deaf sports. Kruger networked with coaches of various sports at residential schools for deaf students and public high schools where deaf students were enrolled to identify outstanding athletes for international competitions. He also became friends with coaches and trainers who, together, built powerhouse USA teams to compete in various sporting events. He raised approximately $2 million for U.S. athletes and brought many teams to the international games, including the first team in 1957.

“Deaf Americans owe much to people like Art (Kruger),” said Jack R. Gannon, author of the seminal book on deaf history and culture, Deaf Heritage. “It is a proud moment in the life of an American deaf athlete when, while wearing the uniform of the greatest nation on earth, he commits his brain, skill, strength, and spirit to the noble ideals of world competition,” Kruger said in Deaf Heritage. “But the proudest moment of all comes to those American deaf athletes who, with high honor, face our nation’s flag on the victory stand, even though … they cannot hear ‘The Star Spangled Banner.'”

Kruger received many awards and honors recognizing his work in promoting deaf sports. Awards include an honorary doctor of pedagogy degree from Hofstra University in New York in 1982 and the Powrie Vaux Doctor Medallion for International Service from his alma mater in 1976. The Gallaudet University Alumni Association (GUAA) presented Kruger with the Edward Miner Gallaudet Award in 1980 from the Laurent Clerc Cultural Fund for his work with deaf athletes worldwide. In 1954, Kruger became the first sports leader to be inducted into the AAAD Hall of Fame, and in 1973, he was named to the Los Angeles-based Helms Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame, founded in 1936 by Bill Schroeder and Paul Helms, nephew of renowned deaf baseball player William “”Dummy”” Hoy, after whom Gallaudet’s baseball field is named.

Born on March 6, 1911, and raised in Philadelphia, Kruger became deaf at the age of 3. He graduated from Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, Philadelphia, in 1927. While a student at Gallaudet, Kruger became interested in journalism and wrote for The Buff and Blue student newspaper. In 1931, he became sports editor for the National Association of the Deaf’s The Silent Worker. After graduating from Gallaudet in 1933, Kruger moved to New York City and worked as a researcher at New York University. In New York, Kruger met his future wife, Eva, a graduate of the New York School for the Deaf.

In 1939, the Krugers moved to Akron, Ohio. There, Kruger created the first national deaf basketball tournament, held on April 14, 1945, and sponsored by the Akron Club of the Deaf. The same year, he and other Gallaudet alumni and deaf sports enthusiasts founded AAAD, formerly called the American Athletic Union of the Deaf. Kruger served as the organization’s first president. The AAAD became the USADSF in 1997. Today, the USADSF has over 3,000 members.

The Krugers moved to Los Angeles in 1946, where he worked for the Western Costume Corporation until his retirement in 1976. They moved back to the Washington, D.C. area, where he spent his retirement years as a volunteer for Gallaudet alumni activities and updating the Gallaudet Almanac at Peikoff Alumni House until his death in 1992 at the age of 81.

During his retirement, Kruger compiled 13 volumes of deaf sports material, known as the Arthur A. Kruger Papers, consisting of 25,500 pages of correspondence, articles, program books, brochures, statistics, photographs, and other data, that were never published. Eva Kruger donated these unpublished manuscripts to the Gallaudet University Archives and are now available to researchers.

In 2012, to honor Kruger’s memory, Gallaudet named a conference room in the University’s Field House for him.

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