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Montgomery College Student Success Stories

Acting on a Leap of Faith
Insights, Spring ’05

Ray Crucet ’54Long before Montgomery College’s mission was known as “changing lives,” the Bliss Electrical School set the stage for the College—and for Ray Crucet ’54. Born in New York City, Crucet spent most of his childhood in the paradise of the Panama Canal Zone. He’d occasionally return to his birthplace with his father to see a show or the Rockettes. The stage left an indelible impression, which resurfaced during his retirement years. Crucet’s dream was to become an electrician. He secured a job with the Navy in air conditioning mechanics. When he became frustrated with the inability to cut through the “good ol’ boy system” to become an electrician, a trigonometry teacher recommended he attend a “very famous old Navy school during World War II—the Bliss Electrical School.

”Heeding the advice of that wise educator, Crucet sold all his possessions to migrate to Washington, D.C., in 1954, traveling from the Canal Zone with a future classmate, Richard Mallet. He found a room to rent at 712 Philadelphia Avenue from “three angels”—Mrs. Dicky, Mrs. Ballard, and Miss Walker. He located the Bliss electrical program, which was then being taught under the auspices of Montgomery Junior College (MJC), and enrolled along with Hal Stephen, affectionately known as “Steve.” And he got a job as a car hop at the Hot Shoppes, where he met another MJC student, Hans (Eddie) Rachie. ”I was kind of strange looking, with my slide rule hanging from my belt, and a red warm-up jacket for a coat,” he said. Not strange enough, though, to keep MJC students Anne Arnold and later Katherine (Katie) Brunstetter from dating him. The MJC and Bliss experience was a rigorous, well-rounded, academic program, but it also provided a family atmosphere. “We were like brothers at Bliss,” Crucet said. “I had the highest regard for Professor Irvin Schick. He was a straight shooter, a great guy, and an honest teacher. He made students understand that if you worked hard and stayed focused, you would meet your goal.” Deciding to take advantage of a “free education” in California, Crucet and Stephen set out for Santa Monica. They enrolled in UCLA, majoring in engineering. After several jobs, Crucet decided to begin his own fireproofing company. “I made a lot of money, but Uncle Sam caught me,” Crucet said. Given the choice to be drafted or enlist in the Army to attend radar school in Texas, he chose the latter. Prior to leaving for a tour of duty in Germany, Crucet married Katie Brunstetter.

After his service in the military, Crucet returned to MJC in 1959. He graduated with an associate’s degree and transferred to the University of Maryland’s engineering program. Then he was “gainfully employed” at Vitro Laboratories. Crucet had a broad career. While working on the Polaris missile program, he decided he no longer wanted to be an engineer. He became senior sales coordinator at Vickers and held a succession of positions all over the world. He retired as their global communications director. Retirement brought other changes for Crucet, including a move to Sarasota, Fla., with his second wife Sharon. He made regular appearances on the stage, reconnected with his love for theatre, and developed his acting skills. His first role in the Sarasota Players Theatre’s 2001 production of Cabaret created a spark that continues to shine. He has appeared in more than 140 performances, including a return to his first stage last fall as West Side Story ’s Officer Krupke. Upon learning about the new Cultural Arts Center slated to appear on the Takoma Park Campus in 2008, Crucet exclaimed, “I am writing a one-man play about General Douglas MacArthur. I’d love to perform there!”