Photography

Venus Blumenkrantz

August 21, 2019

Obituary

Venus Blumenkrantz Obituary

Venus Virgo Blumenkrantz (née Cruce) passed away on August 21, 2019 shortly before her 97th birthday. She died peacefully at her home at Spring Hills in Somerset, New Jersey. Venus was predeceased by her brother Ernest who died in 1993 and is survived by her sons, Neil Blumenkrantz and Mark Allan; Mark’s wife Paula Stylos and their children Jessamyn Stylos-Allan and Melinda Stylos-Allan; Melinda’s husband Seth Zeren and their children Ida Stylos-Zeren and four month old Obediah Stylos-Zeren (named for Venus’s father).

Venus was born in Jacksonville, Florida, to Henry Obie Cruce (a serial entrepreneur) and Fanny Allan (a reluctant homemaker) and grew up in smaller towns of the deep south, particularly Fernandina Beach, during the time of the Great Depression and Jim Crow. From her mother she gained a love of drawing and painting, and from her father a sense of adventure – manifested in climbing trees and exploring the countryside. She had an enquiring mind, and developed within herself a deep commitment to social justice, a viewpoint not shared by those around her.   

Seeking an environment more in keeping with her beliefs and dreams, she left home shortly after graduating from high school. She spent some time living in Brazil working for the US government, providing administrative support to military personnel based there, a happy time which greatly expanded her view of culture. She then moved to Manhattan, determined to create a new and different life for herself in that wide world.

In New York she met David Blumenkrantz, the handsome son of Jewish immigrants, and a practicing psychotherapist. She was bright and good-looking, and had refused proposals from five other suitors (a point of pride which she remembered often), but after much consideration accepted his. They married, moved to New Jersey, had two children, and later divorced after a difficult and disappointing marriage. Having learned frugality during the depression, Venus kept a home with limited resources. She placed great importance on educational accomplishment, and took pride in the intellectual development of herself and her children.

When the children were older, she returned to work as an administrative assistant and was employed at Rutgers University for many years.  She took classes at Rutgers and became active in the union, representing what were then called “pink collar” workers. As president of a local with over a thousand workers, she was a strong and effective leader, eventually taking them out in a successful strike, a dramatic event at Rutgers at the time. 

Venus was a vivid storyteller, with her own unique opinions and view of the world - she felt she had so many diverse experiences that she did not need to read novels. She enjoyed Impressionism, but little subsequent art of the 20th century.  She placed great importance on intelligence, which she made clear she thought she and her sons held in abundance. 

After retirement, she lived quietly in her home in Somerset NJ, continuing to take classes and practice her life-long engagement with painting and drawing. She fiercely held to her independence, and only gave up driving at 90.  When she finally moved into Spring Hills assisted living, she made the adjustment, assuming the role of “nice old lady”, as she called it. She was pleased to receive one last proposal from a fellow resident – though she declined.

Venus was laid to rest October 19th in Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville alongside her mother and brother. She will be missed.

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