Arkansas PBS > Programs > Men & Women of Distinction > Men & Women of Distinction: Jane Krutz

Men & Women of Distinction: Jane Krutz

(October 1, 1925 - March 25, 2012)

Most people in Arkansas would recognize Jane Krutz as the face or "voice" of AETN from her regular appearances during the network's pledge drives. But in a recent interview with David Pryor "Miss Jane" reveals herself as more than an advocate for PBS, but a woman who has devoted her life to volunteer efforts across the state. In this episode of "Men and Women of Distinction", join us as we take a closer look at a woman whose indomitable spirit has enriched the lives of all Arkansans.


(Krutz) Having AETN walk into my building and meeting them changed my life. My dad said, "You know, if you're successful in life, you've got to give back." The great music of my life has been my volunteer effort.

[phones ringing]

If what they say is true, that necessity is the mother of invention, then it must be said that the mother of the Arkansas PBS was Jane Krutz. For more than 40 years, Miss Jane, as she's called by all those who know her, has been the face or, more appropriately, the voice of AETN, both of which are seen and heard right here at the phone bank of Studio A during every pledge drive. But Miss Jane is more than a crusader for public television.

She is a woman who has built her life around giving to others. In addition to raising a family of three and a successful business career, Miss Jane has volunteered for more than 40 organizations, was awarded the community service governor's award for volunteerism, and named PBS' number one volunteer of the nation.

As a woman of distinction here in Arkansas, Senator David Pryor sits down with Miss Jane to talk to her about her lifetime of service and discovers a woman whose passion for life is matched only by her determination to help others, a woman who has made a difference in this state, not because of any political office or financial contribution but through a force of will that has touched the lives of countless Arkansans.

[stirring music]

Hello, I'm David Pryor, and like many of you in this audience today, I have been watching this lady, Jane Krutz, for probably three or so decades raise money for one of her favorite passions, AETN. And today we just sort of want to talk to Jane Krutz, and we want to see what makes her tick. Why does she do this? Why does she give all of this time not only to this great cause but to many, many causes throughout the state of Arkansas to benefit not only the children but adults as well and all of us as a culture and as a state?

Now, Jane, one of the interesting things I've heard about Jane Krutz is that you have another first. You were a first in volunteerism, a first woman to manage a corporate high-rise building, an office building, et cetera. You have many, many firsts attached to your great career. There's another first that happened to you when you were a high school student, and when you were a high school student is when you met Ted.

That's right.

Now, tell us about that story.

Well, I was 16 years old and went out to the Camp Robinson to see a cousin of mine that was going to be shipped out and met Ted Krutz, and I thought, "That's the prettiest man I've ever seen in my life." And he really was, and at 87, he is still pretty to me, David. He just still looks good to me. He was 23 at the time when I met him, and we started dating, and then he got orders to go overseas. We thought we would marry when I got out-- really, at first, when I went to college. Then when I got out of high school, we were going to get married. But he got orders to go overseas, and we just thought we'd die. I just thought, "Well, he's going to go over to France, "and some little cute French girl is going to get him, and I'm not about to let him get away from me." So I talked to Mother and Daddy about it, and they weren't happy with me wanting to marry that early, but they knew that I was determined to marry him before he left the States.

Going overseas,


So he had a--he was scheduled with a two-week leave in March and then was going overseas, and I said, "Mama, we're going to get married during that March--during his time in March." But you were in high school. But I was a high school senior. At that time, no one had ever graduated from Little Rock High School and been married. If they'd found out they were married on graduation day, they did not get their diploma.

Now, John Larson had a heavy hand, and that was his rule. Well, Mother went to Mr. Larson and told him that I wanted to have--Now, he was the superintendent or principal. No, he was the principal. And he said, "No, Ms. Gray." He said, "If I let Jane marry, everybody--"I can't say no to anybody. No."

Well, Mother knew that I was going to go off and marry Ted and quit school if I couldn't get married, and she went to Mr. Hall, who, at that time, was the superintendent of the schools that Hall High is now named after. So he said, "Well, you know, Ms. Gray, this is wartime, "and our boys are leaving high school, "going right to the war, and maybe we need to bend a little bit for them." So he asked for my records, and she got them for him, and I'd always had good grades and did a lot of volunteer work in the high school. I--you know, I started real young doing volunteer work. And he said, "Well, yes, we'll let her get married and then come back and finish school." So I had a huge church wedding at the First Nazarene Church at Ninth and Battery. And, of course, it was packed out by this time because word had gotten out that I was getting married and going to get to finish high school, and I did, of course. We married, took a two-week honeymoon. I came back and finished school and got to get my diploma. And as luck would have it, Ted didn't have to go overseas then. They pulled him out to form a new cadre. He was a drill sergeant and a good one, so he formed a new cadre. We moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, where he was stationed at Camp Claiborne. And we were there for two years, and he continued to be pulled out to form new--to be a drill sergeant for new companies for the next two years. But every time he did, we thought he was going overseas. Honey, we didn't have a cross word during that two years. I bet that's the truth. Because we never knew what day he might have to go. But that's the story of me getting married. But of course, that did open the door, and then lots of girls got married and finished school after that.

(Pryor) With the war over and a new baby, Ted, Jr., Jane and Ted returned to Little Rock, where, over the next five years, they would welcome two more children to the family. While Miss Jane was enjoying her new role as wife and mother, she was never a woman who could sit still for too long. Jane continued her volunteer work at her church, but as her children entered school, her volunteer efforts expanded. When her oldest son, Ted, Jr., entered the first grade, Jane served her first term as PTA president, and in 1955, she marched in the fight against polio with the March of Dimes. That same year, a vaccine was discovered by Dr. Jonas Salk, and as her husband, Ted, says, "Jane was so happy, you would think she helped stir the cure." Jane assumed an even bigger challenge when she was appointed director of Little Rock's first drive against cerebral palsy. With this project, Jane met Willie Oates, a woman of distinction in her own right, who mentored Krutz. The meeting lay the groundwork for what would become a lifelong friendship. With her children all in school, Jane started working part-time to help support the family finances and soon took her first full-time job at KARK TV in Little Rock. After a few years of sitting behind a desk, Miss Jane was ready for a change and a new challenge. She found that challenge as the manager of the 1515 Building in Little Rock, where she proved she had what it took to be a woman in a man's world. Well, this was when I first took over 1515 Building. It was owned by Bloomfield Builders in Memphis. They owned building--they owned the Trade Mart in New Orleans, the Peachtree buildings in Atlanta. They owned buildings in Oklahoma, Texas, all across the South. They had no female building managers, and they didn't want one when they hired me. I just drove them crazy till they finally gave me a chance at it. And I filled my building

to 100% occupancy in less than three months with a waiting list, and not another building they owned had 100% occupancy, and they did not have another female building manager. So they called all the managers to Memphis for a big meeting. They came in from all across the United States, sat us down in a big room, and I was the only woman in the room. And they said, "Jane, we want you to stand up here "and tell these men how a woman was able to do what they can't do." Well, I didn't much like the way that they said "woman."

And I stood up, and I put on my most dignified voice, and I said, "Gentlemen, I know "that a woman must work harder than a man "and do a better job than a man to be noticed. "Fortunately, that is not hard, and I will be glad to tell you how to fill a building." And that was when I built my speech, "Ten Steps to the Top of the Ladder," that today, 40 years later, I am still giving to business groups. Well, Jane, you started off your volunteerism, as you said just a moment ago, even in high school, you were a volunteer. Now, was this because of your church? Was this because of your parents? Where was your inspiration to become a volunteer? Well, it had to come from my parents. My parents were volunteers in the church more than anywhere else. They were both musicians, and they gave their talent in that way. Mother played the piano. Daddy led the choir. And that was back in the days when they didn't pay music directors, you know. That was just their volunteer service. They volunteered for many revival meetings with no pay, to be the musicians for them. They also did some volunteer work for The Salvation Army, and I just was-- Mother just always said, "Now, honey, if you're-- "you know, if you're successful in life, "you've got to give back. "And if you have clothes to wear

and food to eat "and a house to live in, "you have to give people that maybe don't have these good things." So it was just a way of life that-- of course, as I tell people, Jesus was actually the first director of volunteerism when He said that if we did help the needy that He would give us credit for doing it to Him. So it was just sort of built in to my growing up

that you did things

for other people, and then I always had a lot of drive. I mean, you know, that's a fault of character. I had to win at everything. You know, if I sold Girl Scout cookies, I had to sell more than anybody. If I sold poppies for The American Legion, I had to sell more than anybody. And anything I ever did, I sort of went into it with that, and that's how, I think, I, you know, get money for AETN. We just got to get it, and we don't go affair till it's there.

(Pryor) How did it come about in Arkansas that we started, I guess you would call them, the telethons and where you would get on TV? And tell us about the--

(Krutz) Well, now, the first few years, we did not do that. I've forgotten how many years it was, although I could look it up, because we know when we started and we know when we started that. But it came to the point to where, for the evening-- now, the state-- I want people to know-- the state pays for educational television. They pay for the building. They pay for the staff. They pay the lighting. They pay the educational programs that go into the schools. And, boy, that is a story in itself. But they pay for that. They do not pay for the programs that we were offered as entertainment programs, like the entertainment night programs and like the children's Sesame Street. We have to buy those, and, honey,

they are not cheap.

But we didn't have

the money to do it. The state couldn't pay for that. We finally decided, along with other states over the nation, that we would go on the air. Now, the first year we did it, we did a one-time telethon where we were on the air 72 straight hours. I've always heard that you were on there the whole time.

I was. 72 straight hours. I was on there 72 straight hours, me and Fred Schmutz, honey. It sounds like a filibuster in the Senate. It was almost, honey. By the time it was over, the whites of my eyes were gray. Yeah. But then after that, we went to the format that we have now where we're on a few hours every night for a couple of weeks. Well, Jane, back in the-- not too long ago, actually, public broadcasting was in trouble. They were trying to zero out the funding for public broadcasting in our country. One of the great valuable assets of our whole nation they were trying to basically destroy. I never could figure this out, and you testified in Washington against this. That was in '95.


That's right. And they sent me as a layman. Everyone else on the panel that testified either was the president of one of the PBS stations

or president of NPR or had a job with them. They would've lost a job if they had zeroed it out. I was the only layman that went who actually had nothing to lose except good programming. And I went as the little old grandmother from Arkansas who was a volunteer-- and that was actually how I was introduced-- and testified before them. But when I got off that plane in Washington, D.C., with our director at that time, Susan Howorth, who was head of AETN, I was frightened to begin with when I began meeting the president of APBS and the president of PBS and all of these people, and they were so counting on me carrying the ball for them as the only layman, because they felt like my words would mean more when I didn't have a job to lose. And they were just saying, "Oh, you're going to do it. You're exactly what we need." And I thought, "Oh, Lord, help us, I pray. "If I fall on my face, I'll never even go back on the air in Arkansas." You know, I really had that feeling that I would be embarrassed over not doing what they thought I was going to do. I had made a three-minute speech in Atlanta

when I was chosen as the outstanding PBS volunteer of the nation, and that three-minute speech was what they based the fact that I could go there and speak to Congress on.

So when I walked into that state capitol and into the room with all these congressmen sitting up at the podium, across the front-- one of them was Jay Dickey, our Arkansas congressman, and I was intimidated by Jay,

like everybody was. I mean, he--I love him, but he intimidates anybody, and there he sat. And I sat down at that table, and LeVar Burton was testifying, and the program director of radio, public radio, and the director of the Louisiana station. All of these big dogs were testifying. And when it came my time, my mouth was so dry that I thought I was going to choke to death. But once I got the first word out, I was okay, and I talked for ten minutes, and they tell me I am the only person that ever got a standing ovation from a committee to speak before the Congress. And so I felt like, then, that they accepted that and that my words had meant something to them. And it was a great success that we had that day, but I was more frightened than I have ever been in my life. I'm here to tell you that the money that this committee appropriated for public TV for this year of 1995 is one of the best bargains that you get for the federal dollar. And I'd like to tell you what the local stations do with this financial support and how they serve the people.

(Pryor) Public television was saved that year by people like Jane Krutz, whose voice joined a chorus of people protesting federal budget cuts. Beyond her service to public television, Jane Krutz has served as president of eight organizations, including the Friends of AETN, The Salvation Army, the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas Youth Council, Nazarene Women's Ministries, the PTA, and the Building Owners and Managers Association, for which she was the first female president. She has served on the board, been a member of, or fund-raised for over 35 organizations and has been recognized locally and nationally for her hard work. Her husband, Ted, once gave her a box of business cards that said, "Jane Krutz: General Manager of the Universe." Jane just laughed and started passing them out. Where did this drive come from? It came from her family, where she learned as a child the value of being loved and sharing that feeling whenever the opportunity arose.

(Krutz) Well, you know, I was an only child. They were married seven years and thought they could have no children when I was born. And as far as they were concerned, honey, I was just about perfect. Now, I mean to tell you, Frances Jane was perfect as far as they were concerned, except for one thing. I had very straight, ugly hair. My hair was as straight as the floor, and it stood up all over my head. And I grew up remembering Mama spitting on my head, trying to make my hair lay down. And she kept caps on me till I started school, because my hair was really-- it was that white towhead blond that was just ugly. Well, I had a first cousin that was three months older than I was

who was a brunette Shirley Temple. She had black ringlets all over her head, and every time that my cousin, Doris, and Aunt Effie would come to visit, Aunt Effie would say, "Isn't it a shame about Jane's hair? "Isn't it a shame she couldn't have pretty hair like Doris?" Well, Mother got tired of that. One day, they were coming to visit, and she was going to curl my hair. Now, back, honey, 80 years ago, you know-- I was about four then-- they didn't have electric curling irons. All they had was a metal rod that you put in the fire and you got red-hot and curled with that. Well, Mother had me sitting up on the counter in Conway, and she had that hot iron in the fire and was just fixing to put it to my head

when Daddy walked

into the room. He grabbed me up, and he said, "Fannie, have you lost your mind?" Said, "Don't you know you'll burn that little scalp?" Well, she began to cry. She said, "Effie's a-comin'. "She's going to make fun of Jane's hair, and I can't stand it anymore, and I am going to curl it." He said, "You are not. I like it just the way it is." He said, "In fact, I ordered her with straight hair." Mama said, "You what?" He said, "Yes, and I knew she was going to look like you, "and I wanted something about her to be like me. "So I ordered her with straight hair "and a loud voice "so that she would be something like me. I like her just the way she is." Well, Mother started crying and said,

"Honey, I like you like you are too. "It doesn't matter that your hair is straight. Mother loves you." And that's the way they raised me. I knew that their love was unconditional. It didn't matter that my hair was straight. It didn't matter that I was so clumsy I would never learn to ride a bicycle or learn to swim. It did not matter that I was the loudest mouthy kid on the block. They loved me regardless. Therefore, I can understand a God Who loves me regardless of who I am, what I look like, what I do. He loves me anyway. Jane, where is your well of inspiration? Where is your-- where is the root system where you get all of this inspiration, do the things that you do and have done? Where does it come from? Who does it come from?

It comes from--

my dad was a used car salesman, and you know what they say about used car salesmen. But my daddy was selling the third and fourth generation of families their automobiles at 80 years of age, because they had been told what Vic Gray says it is, it is. When I first went to the building, the 1515 Building, he said, "Honey, let your word be your bond with your tenants. "Don't you ever tell them anything you'll do for them "and you not do it. "Don't let your name have to be a the bottom of a contract. "If you look them in the eye and say, "'I'll build a door in that wall when you need it,' "you be sure a door goes in that wall when they need it." And I think that was one reason I was successful as a building manager for 40 years is, my tenants knew that they could trust what I told them, and I learned that from my daddy. Jane, thank you for letting me come into your home, and thank you for coming into our homes for these last four decades to talk to us about the necessity and the need of public broadcasting so that we may communicate the life stories that we know and must share with one another to make our communities better, to make our state better, to make our country better. Thanks so much for being a part of bringing these programs and these messages to us in our homes. And once again, thank you for letting us come in and share your home here in Little Rock, and we don't know how we will ever express our gratitude to you except to say thank you very, very much. Well, thank you, Senator, for being a part of it and for being in my home. You make me want to go out and do something good. I can tell you that, and I think, when people hear your message, they're going to want to do the same thing. Well, their life will be worth so much more. Thank you.

Thank you, David. Thank you.