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A waitress who was kind to a lonely customer was rewarded with his fortune.


Widowed, childless and past 80, Bill Cruxton wanted his $500,000 fortune to make a difference in someone's life. A 17-year-old waitress who had been kind to him seemed the perfect choice.

When he died last month, he left the bulk of his estate to Cara Wood, the Kenston High School senior who befriended him during the 13 months she worked part-time at Dink's Restaurant.Cora Bruck, Cruxton's 86-year-old sister and his only living relative, has challenged the will, which designated enough money to pay for her funeral.

``The Bill Cruxton that (his friends) knew was a very conservative and down-to-earth guy,' said Mark Fishman, Bruck's attorney. ``This is the last thing they would have expected from the true Bill Cruxton.'

But employees and patrons at Dink's, a diner in this Cleveland suburb, knew Cruxton as a lonely man who appreciated the attention he got from Wood.

``Cara is just a good kid,' said Dennis Zdolshek, co-owner of the restaurant. ``She was just a typical junior in high school, yet she took the time to do things for Bill.'

Cruxton's wife of 40 years, Gertrude, died of cancer in 1989. He soon became a regular at Dink's, eating lunch and dinner there every day. If he was late, Wood would call to make sure he was OK.

``You could tell when Bill came in,' Wood said. ``You'd hear him shuffling down the hallway, and everybody would say, 'Bill's here.' '

Cruxton was popular among the patrons, and he would often spend the evening visiting table to table, Zdolshek said.

``He knew that Cara's dad had died,' said Maggie North, a waitress at Dink's. ``I think he felt like he was a father figure.'

Wood quit the restaurant in September because of conflicts with her soccer team's schedule.

But she kept in touch with Cruxton, running errands for him and helping him around the house. Because he had poor eyesight, she often helped him read his mail.

Cruxton, who was 82, died of a heart attack on Nov. 9. His estate included a $141,000 home, $200,000 in U.S. Treasury notes, $45,000 worth of jewelry, two cars, $21,000 in cash and other valuables.

A hearing on Bruck's challenge in Cuyahoga County Probate Court is scheduled for February. She lives on Medicaid in a nursing home and the money would help her live comfortably, Fishman said.

Meanwhile, Wood is making plans to go to college, regardless of whether she gets the money.

``I was working to pay for college, but we weren't living out of a box or anything,' Wood said.


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