470 Massachusetts Avenue, Acton MA 01720


Robert John Cruz

Robert John Cruz

Friday, February 7th, 2020
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Acton, MA

Robert John Cruz, age 60, of Acton, MA left his body on February 7, 2020, after a courageous battle with Esophageal cancer.

He was born November 11, 1959 to Julio and Theresa Cruz in Cambridge, MA. He and his brother, Stephen, lived with their parents in the same house in which their mother was born.

Rob attended St. Peters grammar school, BC High School and Georgetown University.

He and his wife, Melissa Hastings Cruz, married young almost 36 years ago and lived in Stoneham, MA and Littleton, MA before settling these last 23 years in Acton, MA. They have two wonderful children Emily, 31, and Matthew, 29, who were always at the center of their parents’ hearts and minds.

After Georgetown, Rob worked at the Boston Stock Exchange and Fidelity Investments before taking on the role of full time at home father when Emily was 7 and Matt was 5. This arrangement provided a solid home life for the family, allowed Melissa to continue the career she enjoyed, while giving him time to follow his many interests as time allowed.

Over the years, Rob moved way beyond hobbyist in his varied pursuits: woodworking, landscaping, boating, cooking, smoking foods, fixing things and caretaking duties of his friends and family. He was an avid collector of historical coins, guns, watches, and a special car. He was also a 15-year volunteer at the Acton Food Pantry, taking clients shopping the aisles and driving the rig into Boston for collection runs to the Boston Food Pantry. He was a Red Sox fan through and through.

He leaves behind his wife, Melissa Hastings Cruz of Acton, his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter, Emily, Matthew and Althea Haynes, of Acton, MA, his son and daughter-in-law, Matthew Cruz and Christa Self, of Wakefield, MA, his brother, sister-in-law and nephew, Stephen, Liga and Markus Cruz of Riga, Latvia. He also leaves his Aunt Virginia Cruz of Florida and many cousins.

Visiting hours Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 from 4:00-7:00 P.M. at the Acton Funeral Home, 470 Massachusetts Avenue, (Rt. 111), Acton, MA 01720. A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 at 10:00 A.M. in St. Elizabeth’s of Hungary Church, 89 Arlington Street, Acton, MA. A bereavement reception will follow at Paparazzi Restaurant, 768 Elm Street, Concord, MA. Cremation and private burial will take place at a later date.

Donations may be made in Rob's memory to the Acton Food Pantry at Acton Community Supper and Food Pantry, Inc. P.O. Box 2098, Acton, MA 01720.

For life story, directions or to leave an online condolence visit www.actonfuneralhome.com
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Friday, February 14th, 2020 | 4:00pm - 7:00pm
    Friday, February 14th, 2020 4:00pm - 7:00pm
    Acton Funeral Home
    470 Massachusetts Avenue
    ACTON, MA 01720
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Donations may be made in Rob's memory to the Acton Food Pantry at Acton Community Supper and Food Pantry, Inc. P.O. Box 2098, Acton, MA 01720.
  • Service

    Saturday, February 15th, 2020 | 10:00am
    Saturday, February 15th, 2020 10:00am
    St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church
    89 Arlington Street
    ACTON, MA 01720
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    A bereavement reception will follow at Paparazzi Restaurant, 768 Elm Street, Concord, MA. Cremation and private burial will take place at a later date.
    Rev. Jeffrey Archer
  • Interment

    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Cremation and private burial will take place at a later date.


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Private Condolence

Kathy Boyle

Posted at 10:51am
I expected to find some photos of Rob in my Pantry trove to share with you. He’d been involved since the Windsor days… through the Pantry’s turbulent growth, moves to several locations, and its most recent expansion. And he’d volunteered in many different capacities. But I found exactly none! Which, on second thought, should not be a surprise since Rob liked best a supporting role with no attention on him. So, I’m fortunate to have vivid memories from over the years; in all of them he’s smiling or, having shared a good story, laughing out loud, bent at his waist, arms crossed and wrapped around his middle. I can’t recall one time in 15 years that an encounter with him didn’t leave me smiling myself. That is the gift that Rob offered to all.

From the first day he walked into the tiny Pantry space on Windsor, Rob’s big smile and easy-going manner brightened the mood of both the volunteers and clients. He good-naturedly took direction from the small team of septuagenarians in charge, accepting all manner of chores, and quickly endeared himself to them by doing exactly as asked and not suggesting a “better” way, a concern they had when they heard a man was joining the then all-female crew. Rob was both kind AND wise.

His favorite Pantry role involved working directly with clients. He’d engage them in conversation, sometimes not an easy task even for him, as he brought their groceries to their cars or, later in our larger space, as he helped them shop from the shelves. He’d listen closely and remember from week to week their specific stories, interests, family members, and next time ask about them or share a pertinent story of his own. Clients quickly realized his interest in them was genuine and his thoughtfulness was real, a valuable connection for someone whose stressful circumstances often narrowed their world. His absence would spark a continuous refrain of, “No Rob this week? Is he OK? When will he be back?”

Rob was also one of the brave volunteer crew who drove each week to the Greater Boston Food Bank to pick up 6000 pounds of food. This may sound mundane until you add to the mix the fickleness of our old trucks, the vagrancies of the GBFB warehouse, and Boston traffic; too often a three-hour commitment suddenly became an all-day odyssey. I’ve lost count of how many times Rob called from the side of the road to report that the old truck had an issue but there were too many! He never once showed the slightest irritation and was always less concerned for himself than the need to get the food to the Pantry. Once before a busy holiday distribution, he puttered and chugged at 10 miles an hour the 25 miles back to the Pantry so we’d have produce and fresh dairy product that week. I checked in with him often worried about his safety in heavy traffic which, in hindsight, could only have added to the aggravation of creeping along in the breakdown lane on Rt. 2, but he took each call and assured me with a laugh that he’d just will the truck back and he did. He was dedicated to helping those in need.

Good people tend to be surrounded with other good people and that was true with Rob. Rob’s truck travails became a shared experience after Rob enlisted his good friend, Rob Toomey, to ride shot gun. Off they’d go, chatting and laughing, on GBFB runs and on distant rides to inconvenient locations the many times the truck needed repairs. Rob Toomey also joined our Wednesday afternoon distribution crew, another kind-hearted guy and hard worker who brings his own style of mirth with him.

Pantry volunteering was a family affair in the Cruz household. Matt, while still a student, joined the Wednesday afternoon female crew of new empty-nesters and grandmothers who delighted in excessively fawning over him. He became their rock star. “Matt’s here!” and they’d gather him into a hug. Contrary to the reaction of most guys that age, he accepted the attention graciously and returned it with thoughtful gestures and patient comments that further endeared him to the group. A mini-Rob, indeed.

Rob also brought Melissa onboard, another gift. There’s no better asset to an all-volunteer operation than the cooperation of a capable, considerate, intelligent volunteer, one who could run the entire place blind-folded, if asked, but understands their role in the heat of things is to be a cog in the big wheel. That is Melissa. Her innate compassion was evident in her role as shopper aide. But she made time in her busy life to respond to my request for help with financials after a well-intentioned volunteer resigned and passed to me a dubious system of tracking and binders of random paperwork. Next thing she knew, she was on the Board of Directors and Treasurer for several years. Best request I ever made.

As treasurer, Melissa was involved with planning and running our annual fundraiser, an auction with food and drink, that culminates in an intense few hours of crowds and cash and credit cards. She wisely enlisted her entire family to help that night. Enter Em, who quietly took charge of her area in a calm, confident, and kind manner and graciously returned to run it for several years. Sound familiar? Yep, a mini-Melissa.

Rob’s caring manifested itself in providing practical, hands-on solutions to help mitigate problems large and small. The list of Pantry projects he took on is long and broad and the results of his own design: a display board to store volunteer name tags; a shelf to place their phones and keys; ingenious stands to collect client numbers. He spent days installing door units in our new space when unexpected costs blew the budget. When the interior of the truck was rammed by a forklift, he bought supplies and reinforced the walls.

I treasure this one image: working at my desk on a quiet non-distribution day, I tuned in to a noise coming from the parking lot. I raised the shade and saw Rob hard at work tamping down asphalt patch to level out the deteriorating walk at our client entrance. A while later, with his work complete, he tapped on my window. I looked up and there he stood straight at attention, saluting me. Then he turned on his heels with a wink and a grin and waved good-bye. No photos may exist to document his efforts but he was our tool-wielding, Good Samaritan, the Lone Ranger of handymen with a heart of gold.

Peace to you, my good friend.
Kathy Casaletto
Original Director of the Acton Food Pantry

Kathy Boyle Posted at 10:52am

Posted on behalf of Melissa Cruz and family; the beautiful letter they received and have permission to share from Kathy Casaletto

Ann Ferraro

Posted at 03:03pm
One of my favorite memories of Rob was his awesome mustang and “Cruz in” around town - Rob was a stand up guy and would give you the shirt off his back if you were in need . Was a true friend , and made everyone feel like they belonged ❤️ We had fun times in those days . Drag racing with Packy ! hopefully Rob, you and Hai-Tu are up there putting the pedal to the metal and enjoying each other’s company . You will be missed by everyone who you loved and loved you RIP my old friend 💔

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