NORMAN — Arturo Manuel “Art” Crucet, 84, went home to his Savior on Friday, March 16, 2012.
A memorial celebration of his life will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Norman. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Havenbrook Funeral Home in Norman.
Art was born Dec. 31, 1927, in New York City to Ramon Amil and Cristina Vilaseca Crucet, who had emigrated from the northeastern part of Catalonia, near the Pyrenees Mountains of Spain.
He lived his first few years in Brooklyn, N.Y., before returning to Spain with his mother and older brother for an extended visit. They returned to New York sometime after his brother, Ramon, unexpectedly took ill and passed away.
When Art entered school in New York, it was as a non-English-speaking student, having spoken mainly Spanish at home. Soon after 1934, during Art’s primary school years, his family moved to the Panama Canal Zone where his father, a master machinist, was employed by the U.S. government. There, in a tropical paradise, Art spent his formative years and thrived. He was an exceptionally skilled diver and member of the famed Red, White and Blue swim team in high school.
One of his happiest teenage memories was of the summer he spent working on Bara Colorado Island in Gatun Lake, Panama, with scientists from the Smithsonian Institute. He graduated from Balboa High School in the Panama Canal Zone in 1946 and from the University of Central Oklahoma on May 30, 1963, with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. Toward the end of World War II, he served initially in the U.S. Army, then in the U. S. Air Force. For several years, Art taught science classes in Cushing, in Putnam City, and at Casady School in Oklahoma City.
Many will know Art as “The Butterfly Man” because of his second career in arts and crafts. Art was an expert on butterflies: raising, professionally mounting in custom-made frames and selling rare and beautiful moths, butterflies and beetles. Art will be remembered by some teachers and past students at Cleveland Elementary School as the man who gifted their classroom with butterfly chrysalises and moth cocoons so the children could watch them emerge, spreading their wings for the very first time.