After being with Arcadio Cruz, Jr. for only a few minutes, it was easy to see that he loved life. He was a hardworking man of many talents and interests that were only made better when he shared them with the ones he loved. Arcadio was a loving father if ever there was one, but there was nothing he loved more than becoming a grandfather and great-grandfather later in life. Known for his strength and his courage, he always gave everything his all, even when health struggles became a regular part of his life. One never wondered what Arcadio thought as he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, yet everything he said and did was laced in love. A man of faith, he generously gave of himself to help others in ways both great and small. Arcadio will never be forgotten.
The 1950s were a time of great change in Puerto Rico. It was on July 4, 1950, that President Harry Truman signed what is known as Public Act 600, which changed the status of Puerto Rico from a protectorate to a commonwealth. The following year, also on July 4th, the 600 Law was passed, giving Puerto Rico the right to establish its own government with a constitution. This same day was a day to remember in the lives of Arcadio and Carmelita (Alverio) Cruz as they welcomed their healthy baby boy into the world. Arcadio Jr. was born in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, joining his older sister, Gregoria, in the family.
When he was four years old, Arcadio moved with his family to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he was raised in the family’s apartment on 5th and Washington on the city’s South side. His father found work in a local foundry while his mother was focused on caring for her home and family. Arcadio attended local schools including South Division High School. There, he was popular among his peers, especially where the ladies were concerned. Arcadio developed a love for cars and trucks, and his love for trucks would follow him for the rest of his life. He was also a great bass player.
While in his twenties, Arcadio was in for some new and exciting changes when he met a woman named Nelcida. Together they were blessed with the births of three children, Noemi, Miguel, and Merrari. Although they divorced after 22 years of marriage, Arcadio was forever grateful for the children he and Nelcida shared, and they remained friends as well. Later in life his family tree blossomed to include eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Throughout his life Arcadio was accompanied by a strong work ethic. He spent a short time working for Wonder Bread before settling into a job with the City of Milwaukee where he worked as a custodian for the Milwaukee Police Department. Arcadio was only 18 years old when he started there, and he remained there for 31 years until his health issues forced him to retire.
Faith was an unwavering presence in Arcadio’s life. He was an active member of Rev. Juan Gonzalez’s church for many years. Arcadio also enjoyed hosting and attending the church cell group Bible studies. Actively involved in other ways, he enjoyed playing the bass guitar in his church band, and in an effort to help others to receive the blessing of attending church as he did Arcadio often drove the church van to pick up congregants who wanted to come but were unable to make it there on their own.
Never one to be idle, Arcadio was a man of many interests. As an avid biker one of his favorite things was taking his 10-speed bike out on long rides. Spending time with his family was also a priority whether he was taking trips to Florida or Puerto Rico to visit extended family, heading out to a restaurant with family or friends, or celebrating the holidays with a houseful of loved ones. Arcadio also loved camping with family and friends. He loved all types music and also liked watching Western movies as well as his favorite sitcoms from the seventies and eighties including All in the Family and Three’s Company. As his family and friends can attest.
Arcadio often said, “You got that right,” instead of the usual “yes” when asked a question.
In 2004, Arcadio began dealing with declining health. His sister and her husband were always there for him, but he eventually required more care than they could provide. Although Arcadio moved into a care facility, his family was always nearby and often came to keep him company. In addition to caring for their mother, Gregoria was committed to being there for her brother, too. Her husband, Daniel, regularly came to feed Arcadio and to cut his hair as needed while in the nursing home.
Through the life of Arcadio Cruz, Jr., we are reminded of what true love is as he loved his family and friends fully and without condition. He was never one to let things worry him, and he was content in whatever life brought. Arcadio was a man of faith and a hard worker who also took the time to enjoy life along the way. A blessing in the lives of many, Arcadio will be deeply missed and forever remembered.
Arcadio Cruz, Jr. died in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, February 26, 2015. Arcadio’s family includes his mother, Carmelita Alverio Cruz; sister, Gregoria Cruz-Acosta; brother-in-law, Daniel Acosta; children: Miguel Lebron-Cruz, Merrari Cruz, and Noemi Lebron-Rothe along with their mother, Nelcida (Mina) Diaz; niece, Carmen Figueroa; nephew, Efrain Figueroa, Jr.; 11 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren; other relatives and friends. Arcadio was preceded in death by his father, Arcadio Cruz Sr. Visitation at the Niemann / Suminski Funeral Home, 2486 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53207 Monday, March 2, 2015 from 5-8 p.m. with Funeral Services beginning at 6:00 p.m. Family and friends will also gather at the Funeral Home on Tues. March 3, 2015, from 9-11 a.m. with burial to follow at Good Hope Cemetery.