Born Helen Mariano in Baltimore, she was raised on Stricker Street and attended Baltimore City public schools. She later lived with family in New York City, where she became a nurse and worked for the Veterans Administration.
She then returned to Baltimore and nursed at the old Provident Hospital and at Liberty Medical Center. She also worked at the Augsburg Lutheran Nursing Home.
Mrs. Cruse enjoyed sewing and made her own curtains and did upholstery work.
She traveled to Puerto Rico and the West Indies. She was a baker of cakes and pies and made her own barbecue. She also gardened.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Estep Brothers Funeral Home, 1300 Eutaw Place.
Survivors include two sons, Anthony Cruse and Theodore L. Cruse, both of Baltimore; a daughter, Brenda Rochella Cash of Baltimore; and 12 grandchildren. Her marriage to Theodore Cruse ended in divorce.