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Donald George Kuhn

March 3, 1925 ~ May 24, 2018 (age 93)

Don Kuhn, March 3, 1925 – May 24, 2018   

Devoted to family, dedicated to education, math and memory genius, crossword puzzle whiz, prolific reader of mystery novels, dependable and generous are just some of the many ways to describe Don Kuhn. On May 24, following a sudden illness, Don passed away peacefully, surrounded by family. Don is remembered by his family and friends for embracing life, despite pain and tragedy, and for readily sharing his smile and opinions. 

Don was born in Enderlin, N.D., on March 3, 1925, one of five children of Edmund and Anna (Wagner) Kuhn. Growing up during the Great Depression, Don learned lifelong lessons of being frugal but having fun and loving life. He hung out with his friends at the pool hall, smoking cigarettes, and became a pool shark. He was a star second baseman and became a lifelong baseball fan. After graduating from Enderlin High School in 1943, Don entered the Navy and served on a destroyer escort in the Pacific until his tour of duty ended.

Following his discharge from the Navy, Don contracted polio and was hospitalized for nearly a year with paralysis. During an era when many died from polio, Don recovered with one noticeable exception: One leg never regained full mobility. For the rest of his life, he walked with a limp. But his disability did not hold Don back from career, marriage or parenthood.

Don’s career in education began when he earned an education degree from Moorhead State University, with a math major and science minor. He was a natural-born teacher, with a mind like a steel trap. He could calculate math equations quickly in his head, knew the periodic table of elements from memory, and had a head for historic dates and events. He began work in Gwinner, N.D., as teacher, coach and bus driver. He went on to earn his master’s degree in education from the University of North Dakota and to become superintendent of schools, first in Havana, N.D., in 1955, then Fordville and Page, N.D., before moving his family one final time, in 1965, to Grey Eagle, MN, where he was superintendent until he retired in 1987.

He married, Elizabeth “Betty” Lemna, in Enderlin in 1952, and became part of Betty’s large extended family of 15 siblings. Don and Betty had four children together. Their son James had cystic fibrosis and at age 9 died of the disease. In 1960 Illness once again cast its shadow on the family when Betty was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Don cared for Betty in their home in Grey Eagle until she needed assisted living when they moved to Sauk Centre. Betty eventually lost her ability to walk and, in 2003, she died from complications of MS.

Don found joy in daily routines. As a gardener, he planned garden plot arrangements,  kept a tidy garden, and was a prolific preserver, canning thousands of jars of produce over his lifetime. He was also a forager, harvesting wild chokecherries, asparagus, hazelnuts, and horseradish.

Don loved road trips, and would make detailed plans of routes along roadways, but never made hotel reservations, which occasionally meant driving late into the night trying to find lodging.  His penchant for frugalness would show in his citing gas prices in every town he drove through. Road trips continued through his life. At age 89, Don drove his sister Maxine on a road trip through North Dakota to visit relatives.

Despite Betty’s and his own disabilities, Don made a point to attend events of extended family. Even after Betty was in a wheelchair, Don would travel with his wife to family reunions, weddings, graduations, and funerals. In 2015, Don traveled to Enderlin, N.D., once more for a Lemna family reunion, where the extended family celebrated his 90th birthday.  

For Don’s immediate family, the holidays were a particular highlight to spend time with Don, with lots of Bloody Mary’s poured with a homemade mix. Don was fun to have a conversation with. Whether it was sports, or music, or politics, he was always up on current events. His quick wit and broad smile will be missed.

A celebration of Don’s life will be held on June 16 at 11 a.m. at Anderson Funeral Home, 656 Voyager Drive, Alexandria, MN with a visitation one hour prior at the funeral home.

Preceding Don in death: wife Betty Kuhn, son James Kuhn, parents Edmund and

Anna Kuhn, brothers Marv and Herb Kuhn. Don is survived by siblings Vern Kuhn (Ann), Maxine; children Jeff Kuhn (Mary), Mary Elizabeth “Beth” Bromen, Tom Kuhn (Jill); grandchildren Jim (Monique), Rachel (Andrew McKessock), Bill, Mike, and Joe Kuhn, Tony and Cameron Bromen, Sienna, Ivy and Turner Kuhn; great-grandchildren Liam, Caroline, Quentin McKessock, and Lewis and Calla Kuhn.   Memorials are preferred in lieu of flowers.

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