Neil Kruschke Jr. may have left the plastics industry in 2009 when he sold Stopol Inc., but he left behind many friends and acquaintances. All were shocked to learn of 44-year-old Neil's death on Friday in a chainsaw accident near Marquette, Mich. Today Neil's brother Donald, president of Plastics Machinery Group, sent us a statement about the accident. Given the reader interest in the story, and Neil's many friends and colleagues in the industry, I'm reprinting the full text of the statement here: Words cannot express the shock and deep sorrow we feel in the aftermath of Neil's passing. While our family, our company and those who knew Neil grieve, we must also pause, reflect and celebrate the life of a remarkable man and philanthropist whose accomplishments in the business world are only eclipsed by his commitment to his family as a loving husband and caring father. Neil leaves behind a rich legacy. This legacy begins with his wife and two children. They are living testaments and witnesses to the kind of man he was. At this time, our thoughts, prayers and concerns are first and foremost with the wife and children he adored and cherished. Our hearts break for them and we share their grief. They more than anyone else need our love, support and understanding. The heights Neil reached as a businessman are unparalleled. Starting in our family basement with only a dream, his imagination and a relentless drive to succeed, Neil transformed Stopol, Inc. into a multimillion dollar deal maker and trusted consultant in the plastics industry. He did this by staying a step of ahead. A step ahead of the industry. A step ahead of the marketplace. A step ahead of the competition. This approach won him numerous business accolades, including the SME 2007 Distinguished Marketing and Sales Award. While so much effort is focused on what Neil did in the business world, it's easy to forget the impact he had on people's lives. A strong proponent of benevolent activity, Neil was involved in a number of philanthropic ventures, including:
- The Stopol Hurricane Katrina fund, which benefited people and plastics industry businesses along the Gulf Coast that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
- The SPE Scholarship Fund, which raised over $30,000 for the SPE Thermoforming Division's Student Scholarship Fund. The fund helps solidify the long-term future and viability of the plastics industry by helping develop engineering talent.
- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
- Flashes of Hope, a national Cleveland-based non-profit organization that creates uplifting portraits of children fighting cancer and other life threatening illnesses.
- A free employment placement program for workers of companies that contract with Stopol for auctions and/or liquidations.
- The Therapeutic Riding Center
- A variety of wildlife and conservation groups, including Ducks Unlimited.