Faith, prayer and taxes
Curt Cruver and his wife, Mary Ann.
As a certified public accountant, Curt Cruver does more than just sit behind a desk and crunch numbers. He wears a variety of hats to provide the best service for his clients.
And as a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Oak Park, Ill., Curt also draws upon his Lutheran faith.
So with April 18 just around the corner, Curt's professional versatility and faith plays a critical role in helping people correctly prepare their tax returns, so they can get the best refund possible, or to avoid overpaying Uncle Sam.
To do that, Curt finds himself playing the role of interviewer, asking clients the right questions in case they can benefit from the dizzying array of constantly changing new federal and state tax breaks and laws.
"Because I have more than 40 years' experience in accounting, I can think outside the box," he says. "I ask myself, 'What else can I do for this client, or what other questions can I ask to help get a better result?'"
On other days, Curt sees himself as a counselor, helping clients facing hardships like bankruptcy, credit card debt and other financial strains.
"A personal problem may come up when talking with a client," Curt says. "Although I'm not a psychologist or lay minister, I talk about faith and encourage prayer if it comes up in the conversation and if the client is comfortable."
In addition to preparing taxes, Curt confers with other professionals, like the time he met with a client's attorney to review tax-return and other financial information before it moved through bankruptcy court.
But what Curt likes best about his work is helping people. "I enjoy my work," he says, adding that his faith sustains him during the tough times, too.
When not working, Curt worships and is involved in activities at Good Shepherd, which has seen fluctuations in membership from about 800 at one time, down to 75, to about 430 members today.
Despite those changes, Curt has remained committed to the congregation since becoming a member in 1964, serving as treasurer, a member of the finance committee and offering-counter over the years.
"Maintaining an active membership (at church) has sustained my faith and has helped me stay focused," he says. "Maintaining relationships with good, strong people in all aspects of my life -- from Good Shepherd and other churches -- also has sustained me."
And Curt also has remained committed to his clients, many of whom he has befriended over the last four decades.
"I feel a great responsibility in my work," he says. "My clients put their trust in me, so I want to deliver."