In Memory

Richard Kjos

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11/22/10 04:37 PM #1    

Carroll Rasch


Richard “Dick” Kjos, 64, formerly of Minnetonka, MN, died Thursday, February 21, 2008, at his sister’s home in Minot.

Dick was born July 31, 1943, in Fargo, ND, to Luther and Loretta (Brandt) Kjos.  He was raised and educated in Minot, and graduated from Minot High School in 1961.  He attended the University of North Dakota, and graduated with honors in 1965 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History. He continued his education at the University of Minnesota in American Studies in 1966.

Dick entered active military service with the US Army on July 11, 1967, and served in Viet Nam.  He was honourably discharged from the Army on July 2, 1969.  He was once married to Edith Gerlach, and had two sons, Stephen and Peter.  From 1969 to 1990 Dick lived in Bismarck. He served as President of Gerlach Sheet Metal, and later worked for Western Steel and Plumbing. 

Dick moved to Minneapolis, MN, in 1990 and worked as Territory Manager and a Training Manager for Minnesota Air until his retirement in July of 2007.  He resided in Minnetonka until he moved to his sister’s home in Minot on February 8, 2008. 

Growing up Dick spent summers with his family on the farm near Columbus, North Dakota, and in recent years enjoyed making trips back to the farm to visit. He was a life-long car enthusiast, and recently completed building a Shelby Cobra.  Dick had many friends that he enjoyed spending time with, including the breakfast club at Bunny’s and the Friday night gang at Fong’s.  He was a good friend to many, and will be greatly missed by his family and his friends. 

Surviving family includes: Sons, Stephen R. (Toni) Falk and Peter D. (Polly) Falk; Grandchildren: Evan, Glen, and Anne; Sister: Barbara (Thomas) Groutt, Minot; Brother: Douglas (Susan) Kjos, Minot; Sister-in-law: Tanya Kjos; Nieces: Sarah and Molly Kjos and Anne Williamson; and Nephews Benjamin, Skylar, and Kelsey Kjos.

Dick was preceded in death by his parents and his brother David J. Kjos.

12/10/10 12:43 AM #2    

Carroll Rasch

I always knew who Dick was but, we only became closer friends due to Hardy Lieberg's choir. We stood side by side up on the center riser; fellow baritones often used for eye contact with Hardy...  Funny things come back.  I had never heard the slang term "pinko" for leftist Com-symps until I heard it from him in a conversation with Dick Dahlen.  <chuckle>  I remember him as King Creon and as a member of "The Triumvirate." (made up of Dick, Richard Dahlen and Scott Hoopes and their Centurion, Bill Caine.) I remember his elevated and quick wit with quips delivered precisely at lightning speed.

Dick and I crossed paths at such unexpected times over the years.  I will never remember all of them but, just as mysteriously, we unexpectedly lost each other.  We, against all statistical probability, we found each other in a night classroom designed as "French for Graduate Students."  I had passed the German exam and needed one more to fulfill degree requirements. We met in Folwell Hall, that English Renaissance Revival building on the campus of the University of Minnesota which had once housed the offices of the likes of Robert Penn Warren and Allen Tate...We grinned and studied French together.  One day he did not appear.  He vanished. I could not imagine what happened.  He was working on a degree in American Studies and I was deep into the History Department.  Later, I learned that he had been drafted and was on his way to Vietnam.  I missed him...and also, got the irony that for strange and fickle reasons I was never invited to Vietnam.  We had had beers now and then.  Weeks before he left us, he told me one Vietnam story:  (I have to check with his sister again to see if she remembers where he was but, I remember it as being up in I Corps where he was part of command tasked with the duty of civilian government (I think) and governing.  There was a Marine Corps General Officer visiting and all were lined up to be briefly inspected and the General stopped and looked at his name and said, "One of the best adjutants I ever had was named Kjos, Luther Kjos... "  Dick answered, "Yes, he was my father."  The Marine officer paused and looked his USArmy uniform up and down and broke into the most aggressive and disciplinary tone: "What the @%&**XX!!@ is the son of Luther Kjos doing in the @#+^&*#!! Army?"  It was a great story told with gusto.

I took Dick out to a favorite faculty watering hole in Rosemount near the high school where I worked to meet and remember Susan Walters Turney and her buddies from Northwest Airlines.  It was a great night.  He was charming and elegant.  I know that every woman at the table wanted to know him better.

The last two times were so close to his last days.  We went to a birthday gathering in Saint Paul that had been organized by Lloyd Kvam. Dick dropped by our home, picked me up and; I decided that, since Barbara had a good friend in Minneapolis (classmate from Detroit Lakes High School) visiting from Mission Viejo, I would invite Dick to be her dinner partner.. He accepted. It was a great night at a great restaurant and jazz club downtown.  I knew he was ill but, he did not show it.  The evening pursuaded me to have some hope he had defeated the monster.. We had a big meal (He had a great appetite.)  great jazz singer... We talked about going to Minot together.  He said he was going up to meet his sister.  We had talked about his illness before at the American Legion Club in Rosemount and on the phone. He did not talk much about his treatments but, he seemed strong and full of the same old good humor expressed, as always, in excellent grammar, baritone voice, peppered with profanity but sparkling with a vocabulary that would have made Mrs. Gehring smile.  I thought he may have had a very successful course of treatments and that maybe he had it on the run.  I gave him openings to talk about it but, real guys don't ask.. They make a space in the conversation which, if unfilled, is an answer in itself.

A surprise and unanticipated phone call from him related that he wanted to see me and take me for a drive.  He pulled up at the curb in front of our home in a gleaming, British Green, Carroll Shelby A. C. Cobra... Thundering engine.. amazing.  He had built/rebuilt it.  We drove down France Avenue into the local "Rodeo Drive" area at 50th and France. I took him into the cheeky, faux French Restaurant Salut. (Walls decorated like a Paris Bistrot with short sentences that we enjoyed laughing about ("I like the French.  They taste like chicken." Hannibal Lecter).  I told him I would drive up to Minot with him... that any time he needed to be driven to a chemo appointment he should call me.. He never did.. He was a guy's guy.  He did not share much about his illness.  He just said, "No, I'm just going up to visit my sister."  "Hey, I will be there to help you drive and I will take the train back."  "No," says he, "I am going up alone......." plus some excuse that was very generous to my feelings... 

I had no idea nor did he give me any clue that he was going to Minot, to the home of his sister, to spend his few remaining days.  Somewhere up there, his sister has a T-shirt for me that he purchased and thought was funny... I talked to her on the phone.  She told me that I had been the only person to have ever ridden in his Cobra. 

All of this is to remember him as I do:  a guy, uncomplaining, slow to share his tribulations, and warm and clever and bright.  His voice and humor and conversational fun was there to the last time I saw him.  His illness did not show in his voice or in his demeanor or movement.  It was like being in a John Wayne movie as I look back.  He was saying goodbye without letting on that it was the last time I would see him. 

He was as tough as Brett Favre but his injuries/pain/cancer were no part of his personality.  He would never have given a press conference regarding the agony of a cracked ankle bone. <chuckle>  He was a guy's guy and a soldier.  He was slender and tall with the bearing of an intellectual and an easy stoop that generously brought him to the level of shorter people and gave him an aire of total attention to their words.  The women were charmed.  But, I felt something else about him, that he knew what hard physical work was.  I think that he and I had been raised by similar parents who believed that hard work was the best after-school and, especially,  summer activity.  He was a Guido Montefeltro... a Renaissance man... scholar, bon vivant, intellectual, soldier and farmer... comfortable in so many circles.  I shared his enjoyment of the ironies of life. the irony of him being drafted for Vietnam and me not... the complete understanding that life is strange and ironic and that the cards fall and we play the cards in our hand and just enjoy knowing that there are others up our sleeves but, playing out the game with honor and by the rules but, knowing every sneaky short cut that would be taken by scoundrels.  I felt intellectually safe with his honesty. We discussed a literature or history topic as a team...working along and through, mentioning alternatives, not arguing but sharing thoughts and solving the riddle together.  He did not argue for the sake of the conflict. His style was to peel and reveal and share thoughts and build interpretations. I tried to line him up with a date or two for double dates on some occasions.. He was shy about it and begged off (except for the last time with Barb and her California friend) and finally, he said to me one day, "I don't have any serious women in my life any more.  I don't do marriage very well."

 This is the part of Dick that I knew.  Others knew him at other times and in other acts of life.

I liked him.

I hope I can approach the end or be overtaken by the end with the serenity he had.  I don't want to go cussing into that good night.






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