Gulliver Schools founder Marian Cline Krutulis: 1923-2013
Mrs. Marian Cline Krutulis, founder and director of Gulliver Schools, died early Saturday morning, Jan. 26, at the age of 89.
A visionary educator with a lifelong compassion for children, she shaped thousands of young lives over her 60-year tenure at Gulliver. Known affectionately as “Mrs. K,” she created the foundation for continuing educational excellence and serves as a lasting legacy for one of Florida’s most renowned educators.
Mrs. K was the founder of the Dade Association of Non-Public Schools, co-founder of the Florida Association of Non-Public Schools, and a national advisor and consultant on vital K-12 educational issues.
“Mrs. Krutulis has left a major impact on education in Miami,” said Emilio Nuñez, chairman and president of the Gulliver Schools board and a 1983 graduate of the school. “Her vision went beyond academics, the arts, foreign languages and athletics. She created an environment of caring, trust and intellectual enrichment for all students.
Added Jeff Bartel, a founding member of the board, current vice chairman, alumnus and parent: “Words cannot begin to describe the sadness that thousands of students and alumni feel.”
Mrs. K was director of the school from 1954 to 2007, when she became director emeritus. In 2000, the school became a non-profit institution with a board of directors to ensure the continuing excellence of the school. Her son, John Krutulis, has been Head of Schools since 2007.
Over her 60-year tenure as Gulliver’s director, Mrs. K shaped thousands of young lives while building the largest and most successful private school system in Miami-Dade County.
Her career with Gulliver began in 1953 when she purchased Gulliver Academy, starting with one small Coconut Grove building and a handful of students.
Today, Gulliver is the largest independent school in Miami-Dade County with four campuses in Coral Gables, Pinecrest and South Miami serving more than 2,200 students from pre-kindergarten through high school. Programs include performing and visual arts, foreign languages, as well as extracurricular activities from athletics to the theater.
Her greatest recognition as founder of Gulliver Schools was its prestigious ranking as a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award presented by President George H.W. Bush.
Mrs. K had natural warmth about her, combined with outstanding business skills. She was also described as a “feisty redhead” – always on the go with incredible vigor. First and foremost, she was a teacher. She was also a creative thinker, having envisioned Gulliver Schools as a multi-campus organization of high-quality private schools.
She was born Marian Cline on Aug. 23, 1923, the daughter of a successful architectural contractor and businessman. When she was 3, the family moved to South Florida, and two years later settled in Miami’s Bayshore neighborhood. She graduated at the top of her class at Miami Edison High School and enrolled at the University of Miami, where she studied mathematics and finance.
She met Joseph Krutulis, a UM football player, and they married in 1942. She launched her education career as a substitute kindergarten teacher at Shadowlawn School, where she discovered her passion for teaching that would continue throughout her life.
She began a family that eventually would number five children: Barbara Holliman of Hiawassee, Ga.; Virginia of Evergreen, Colo.; Joseph J. of Anaheim, Calif.; Sharon Smith of Amelia, Va.; and John W., in Miami.
While still raising young children in the early 1950s, she became a full-time teacher, first at St. James Lutheran School, then at Riviera Day School. When St. Philip’s Episcopal Church decided to open a small school for children, ages 3-5, she took charge of the program.
Just one year later, she purchase Gulliver Academy, which was founded in 1926 by Arthur Gulliver and located in Coconut Grove. On New Year’s Eve, 1953, she reached an agreement to purchase the academy. Then, after nine months of hands-on hard work and repairs, she was able to reopen the new and improved school in September 1954. That first year, Gulliver attracted nearly 150 students, first through second grade.
In its first decade, Gulliver grew steadily and in 1960, a second building was added as the school’s population neared 600. By the late 1960s, Gulliver had reached full capacity in its Coconut Grove location, so Mrs. K. purchased a 20-acre tract in Coral Gables, south of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Soon afterward, she sold the Coconut Grove property to Vanguard School.
Construction of the new campus began in early 1967 and by September, the first building opened for the fall semester. At this point the school had 575 students, from pre-K through eighth grade. The next year, enrollment climbed to 650 students. By 1971, Gulliver’s campus comprised buildings, including a junior high, as well as a new library and pool.
During the early 1970s, Mrs. K. built a new high school on a 22-acre tract on Old Cutler Road and 176th Street, but soon sold it to new owners who renamed it Palmer Preparatory School. In 1977, she secured a 10-acre site on Kendall Drive by Ludlam Road. On Oct. 5, 1978, the new Gulliver Preparatory School opened as a state-of-the-art facility.
By 1980, the high school’s enrollment passed 400 students, with a demanding academic curriculum and a full slate of sports teams and other extra-curricular activities. In 1983, Gulliver’s student population reached 1,550, representing children from nearly 20 countries. In 1987, Gulliver launched its international baccalaureate program, the first such program at a private school in Dade County.
In September 2001, Gulliver Preparatory Miller Drive Campus became a grade 9-12 school with its own facility. Gulliver Academy’s Montgomery Drive Campus opened the same year as a grade 6-8 facility and began enrolling fifth graders the following year.
In 2000, after 47 years of growth and advancement as one of the most successful for-profit private schools in Florida, Gulliver Schools became a non-profit institution with a new board of directors and a professional management team.
A private memorial service and funeral will be held for the Krutulis family. The entire family invites the public to attend a “Celebration of Life” ceremony at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the University of Miami’s BankUnited Center, 1245 Dauer Dr.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, the Krutulis family requests that contributions be made to the Joseph A. and Marian C. Krutulis Memorial Endowment Fund. This endowment fund was established by the Krutulis family and past parents to support students who qualify for financial aid.
Donations may be made online by clicking here and selecting the appropriate gift designation; by mailing a check along with a donation form (or simply write gift designation in the memo section of the check) and mail to: Gulliver Schools Advancement Office, 1500 San Remo Avenue, Suite 420, Coral Gables, FL 33146; or by calling the advancement office at 786.709.4081.
Meanwhile, the Krutulis family asks that parents, students, alumni, faculty and friends remember Mrs. K by writing their favorite stories about her. Please share sentiments on the “Tribute to Mrs. K” memorial page.