By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
The Fred Cruse III Foundation is announcing its Third Annual Bike Drive for elementary school children of Pearl River County.
The foundation is carrying on a tradition in honor of its namesake, Fred Cruse III, by continuing a mission which was near and dear to his heart. For over 20 years, Cruse III, and his wife Diane made sure that elementary school children had bicycles.
A native of Marks, Miss., Cruse III, was the owner of Fred’s Westside Pharmacy in Picayune, which his family continues to run today. He was a member of Pine Grove Baptist Church, Past President of the Picayune Diamond Club and Past President of PYAA. An alumnus of the University of Mississippi, he was a booster of the Ole Miss Baseball Team. He was also a booster of all Picayune sports, academic clubs and supported the band. He was awarded the Key to the City of Picayune in 2008. Cruse III, passed away on Friday, November 19, 2010.
Jerry Bounds was a good friend of Cruse III, who discovered his secret when he noticed an invoice for several bicycles, while he was visiting at the pharmacy, and asked him about it one day.
“He was not too happy that I saw the invoice and abruptly told me he had things to do and it was time for me to go,” said Bounds. “Shortly after he passed away, I approached Diane about continuing his mission through a foundation named in his honor. It was the least we, as his friends, could do.”
His widow, Diane, says, “Fred believed that every child should have a bike. He was always into education and athletics with children. He believed that riding a bike was an independent activity that children could do and build strong healthy bodies.
“Another reason he felt so strongly about it, I believe, is that he grew up in a small town where the kids all rode bikes everywhere. He could not imagine a child being deprived of one for financial reasons. He didn’t want credit or to embarrass anyone so we did this anonymously for all of those years.”
Local elementary school principals will soon be turning lists of needy children over to the foundation so that they can purchase proper bicycle sizes before Christmas. With this is mind, the foundation is now accepting donations and asks that they be given in the form of either cash, check or Wal-Mart gift cards as they have an arrangement at Wal-Mart and get special pricing on bikes.
All donations can either be dropped off or mailed to Fred’s Westside Pharmacy located at 207 Kirkwood Street, Picayune, MS 39466. For more information call Diane Cruse at 601-798-8888.