May 16, 2012
Dr. Cruft was raised in Illinois and long maintained roots to his family farm. He was an extremely loyal alumnus of the University of Illinois where he received his B.S. and M.D. degrees. He joined the U.S. Navy while an undergraduate and, after a year of internship at Indianapolis General Hospital, entered active duty. Dr. Cruft completed his residency in general surgery at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital in 1962 and went on to hold several key command positions, including division surgeon for the Third Marine Division in Vietnam, chief of surgery at the Oakland Naval Hospital, executive officer of the San Diego Naval Hospital, and commanding officer of the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. He received numerous commendations for his Navy service, including the Legion of Merit in 1968.
Upon retiring from the Navy, Dr. Cruft worked briefly at the National Board of Medical Examiners before coming to the ABS. The National Board experience enabled Dr. Cruft to greatly advance the quality of testing at the ABS, including the first recertification examination in general surgery and the first ABS In-Training Examination (ABSITE). Perhaps most importantly, his wisdom helped greatly to guide the ABS where he served as the "organizational memory" for over three decades and under four executive directors.
Dr. Cruft had a special personality and was a deeply caring and generous person. He was deeply affected by the death of his devoted and beloved wife Helen in 2010. He is survived by several cousins in the Midwest. A memorial service is planned in Philadelphia on June 16.