Ronald Kreulen and his wife, Rona, were charming people who loved life, their friends and neighbors say. That’s what makes their deaths in an apparent murder-suicide all the more shocking. But the Kreulens’ neighbors knew something was amiss, they said, because the couple usually closed their bedroom window. It had been left open.
The couple’s high school-age grandchild found them dead from gunshot wounds Wednesday inside their northwest Spokane home at 7111 N. Drumheller St., authorities say.
Nearly a dozen neighbors gathered in a home next door. Some family members joined them. The Kreulens had two children and three grandchildren.
Neighbors voiced disbelief. A family member wailed as she embraced a relative outside the home.
Authorities refused to say who was killed and who committed suicide.
“It appears the man had been ill for some time,” said Spokane police Sgt. Joe Peterson. Friends and neighbors confirmed the 70-year-old had been on kidney dialysis for many years.
Ronald Kreulen was known in education circles for his decade at the head of the local teachers union, the Spokane Education Association. Kreulen moved to Spokane in 1972, when he was named executive director of the union.
“He took over for a man who had been here for a long time,” said Richard Iverson, a former SEA president who worked with Kreulen. “He did a good job of merging into the role. He was instrumental in organizing some of the other classified employees, such as cooks, who eventually became part of the SEA.
“It was a pleasure working with him,” Iverson said.
Former colleague Steve Paulson and Kreulen met while they were working in different cities. “We talked about the difficulties of a larger urban district,” Paulson said. “He was very good at managing the intricacies of … a large political organization.”
Before coming to Spokane, Kreulen had been a math and science teacher in Florida, according to previous news reports.