The local labor movement lost a friend and ally April 28 with the death of Robert Krueger, a Catholic priest who was often seen at labor union rallies and picket lines. Krueger was 90. Known to many as “Father Bob,” Krueger was a proponent of Catholic social teaching, a body of doctrine in the church that addresses oppression, social justice, and wealth distribution.
“Because of our dignity as human beings, made in the image of God, workers have rights to be able to fulfill their destiny, to receive sufficient compensation, to be treated well,” Krueger told the Labor Press in a 2009 profile. “They have the right to organize and bargain collectively and strike if necessary. We learned that as kids, and I never forgot.”
Krueger attended Portland’s Central Catholic High School in the 1940s, studied at Mount Angel Seminary and St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore, Washington, and was ordained as a priest in 1956. Over the years he served at half a dozen Catholic parishes and schools, and finished his career as pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Northeast Portland from 1990 to 2004. After retiring in 2004, he continued to served as priest moderator at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Southeast Portland.
Krueger spoke for justice, whether at rallies or testifying at Portland city council against prison labor in parks. In 1997 he was arrested for civil disobedience in the lobby of Wells Fargo bank in support of striking steelworkers. At one time he was member of the steering committee of the union-backed solidarity group Portland Jobs With Justice.
Following a May 15 funeral mass at St. Andrew, Father Krueger was buried in the priests’ section at Mount Calvary Cemetery.