Memorial services announced for Eugene Cruz-Uribe

The family of Indiana University East mourns the recent passing of Eugene Cruz-Uribe, retired professor of History. Cruz-Uribe died unexpectedly March 12, 2018. He was born on December 22, 1952, and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Eugene Cruz-Uribe

Cruz-Uribe is the husband of IU East Chancellor Kathryn Cruz-Uribe. He is survived by their daughter, Alicia “Cici” Cruz-Uribe and her spouse Greg Harkay, and a granddaughter, Sofia Mariana Harkay Cruz-Uribe, of Orono, Maine; and his daughter, Mariana “Mari” Cruz-Uribe and her spouse Ry Penniman, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Michelle Malott said the campus is deeply saddened.

“Gene was well-respected and very much liked on campus and with those he worked with in the community,” Malott said. “We mourn with Kathy and her family.”

Cruz-Uribe lived in Richmond. He joined the faculty in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in July 2013. He retired from the university in May 2017 but continued his research of ancient Egypt.

“The Indiana University community is deeply saddened by the passing of Eugene Cruz-Uribe,” said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. “He had a great impact on the lives of our students through his teaching, as well as through his family’s extremely generous contributions to funding scholarships and internships for students and strengthening the academic, social and cultural life of the campus. His legacy and spirit will live on through the successes of the students whose lives he touched and the continued development of a campus that has become such an integral part of the community it serves. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Chancellor Cruz-Uribe and her family at this very difficult time.”

John Applegate works directly with Chancellor Cruz-Uribe in his role as the IU executive vice president for University Academic Affairs.

“Gene was the consummate teacher and scholar, who enthusiastically shared his accomplishments as an Egyptologist with his students, his colleagues, those who joined him on trips to Egypt and anyone who is intrigued by that fascinating culture,” Applegate said. “He was a delightful colleague and friend, and we will miss him terribly. Our hearts go out to Kathy, their daughters and granddaughter.”

Often by each other’s sides at campus events and Red Wolves athletics, the Cruz-Uribes have been dedicated supporters of the IU East campus and students since before the chancellor’s official installation in October 2013. Their philanthropic contributions have benefitted scholarships, internships and the Student Events and Activities Center.

The Cruz-Uribes have said they give because they believe in the campus’ mission to challenge students to grow intellectually and personally in a supportive and scholarly environment.

Their first major contribution to campus was a $50,000 gift toward the Student Events and Activities Center in August 2016. In recognition of their generosity, in September of 2017, IU East dedicated the Chancellor Kathryn Cruz-Uribe and Eugene Cruz-Uribe Interactive Classroom, located in Springwood Hall.

The Cruz-Uribes additionally endowed a $100,000 gift toward student scholarships in honor of their parents, Gloria and Joseph Allwarden and Lillian and Antonio Cruz-Uribe, who firmly believed that higher education is the key to a better life. His parents are deceased.

Gene Cruz-Uribe was a first-generation college graduate, and felt it was important to recognize his parents’ encouragement that he and his siblings earn a college degree.

Cruz-Uribe received his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. He worked at the Seattle Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He taught at Brown University, Northern Arizona University (where he was appointed Professor Emeritus upon his retirement), Monterey Peninsula College, and at California State University Monterey Bay.

An Egyptologist, Cruz-Uribe’s specialty was the recording of ancient Egyptian graffiti for what they reveal about personal piety, late period religious practices and pilgrimage.

In 2015-2016, he led two IU East students on a two-week trip through Egypt to study the culture and history.

Cruz-Uribe was also the first IU East faculty member to lead a trip offered through the Indiana University Alumni Association (IUAA). The group traveled from Cairo to cities along the banks of the Nile River and through ancient Egypt in March 2017.

Cruz-Uribe just returned from Egypt on March 3, 2018, after a month combining more research and another IUAA tour.

He also extended his expertise to community groups, such as the Wayne County Historical Museum. Cruz-Uribe joined the board in 2014 and accepted the board chair position in 2017. He was instrumental in guiding the Museum’s 50th anniversary memorial of the Richmond Explosion and had conducted many interviews over the past year. However, one of Cruz-Uribe’s more enjoyable roles with the museum was playing “the Mummy” each year during the Haunted Museum tour. He also served as the president of the Tourist Club (Richmond’s oldest social club), and supported the Richmond Art Museum, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Girls, Inc., Amigos, the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities and other charitable organizations.

Cruz-Uribe was known for his sense of humor, outgoing personality, and love of bicycle riding, alligators, bad disaster movies, reading (especially history and science fiction), bow-ties, and the Green Bay Packers. But he loved his wife, daughters, and granddaughter most of all.

Cruz-Uribe specialized in a stage of the ancient Egyptian language known as demotic (which looks like chicken scratches to the uninitiated). He authored six books, over 60 articles and 40 book reviews dealing with all periods of Egyptian history and culture. He conducted a number of field research projects in Egypt, working in Kharga Oasis, in the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and on papyri in museums all over the world. His most recent project involved recording graffiti found at the temple of Isis at Philae Island.

He received a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship in 2007, which he spent in Aswan, Egypt. He was the editor of the Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, the principal journal for Egyptology research in the United States.

The Cruz-Uribes attend St. Andrew Catholic Church in Richmond.

Services for Eugene Cruz-Uribe are next week. The visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, in Whitewater Hall Lobby, located on the IU East campus. The memorial service and Mass will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 23, at St. Andrew Catholic Church, 235 S. 5th St., in Richmond. Arrangements are by Stegall-Berheide-Orr Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to the IU Foundation in remembrance of Eugene Cruz-Uribe.

For those interested in learning more about the life and legacy of Eugene Cruz-Uribe, a tribute page has been created which features his biography and academic work, photos, and an opportunity for people to leave their memories. Please visit iue.edu/tribute to leave remembrances.