The Conservancy is sad to share that Bill Krudener, the SS United States' youngest bell captain who made more than 500 transatlantic crossings over the course of his career, has passed away at age 88. Bill and his family attended a number of Conservancy events and was beloved by all.
Conservancy board member and former crew member Joe Rota shares this tribute to his former crewmate:
Bill Krudener was the bell captain of the Big U. In that job, he handled all 55 bellboys on board, including me. This was a task compared to trying to teach unwilling cats to preform tricks or trying to collect free range chickens. He probably made more sailing days on the SS United States than anyone, including the maiden voyage. His career with US Lines began back on the SS America as a Tourist Class bell boy.
If you knew Bill Krudener, you liked him. If you were his friend, you were connected with many of the joys of life. Bill had the best sense of humor of anyone you had ever met. He was a capable and bright man, and this was proven on every voyage.
When Bill finally "Went on the Beach," a Merchant Marine colloquialism or slang for retiring, we all worried that he wouldn't know what to do with himself. When I visited him at his section of woods in Pennsylvania, I saw a large two story home that could be a magazine cover for any home beautiful magazine in the world. I asked Bill where did he find the carpenters to build this beautiful home out in the deep woods. He floored me when he said, "I built it and all the furniture too". The inside of the home was museum quality, I could only say, "Bill who knew you had this talent?". His reply was, "include me in that group".
His sense of humor was never absent. Once at a fundraiser for the ship in Philadelphia, a reporter asked him if he ever thought that the Big U would still be afloat after being out of service for so long. His immediate reply was, "I didn't think I would still be afloat!" Well, Bill didn't outlast the ship, but if he could have been asked, I think he would have "Okayed" the way it turned out. He loved the SS United States very much and he joined so many of us in hoping it could be saved.
Bill will truly be missed by all who knew him.
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