Michael "Mike" Kurtz Jr.

Obituaries in Devils Lake, ND | Devils Lake Daily Journal
Obituaries in Devils Lake, ND | Devils Lake Daily Journal

Michael Kurtz, Jr, 97, Devils Lake, passed away on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, with Cyndy and Brenda by his side, in Fargo, ND. Funeral Services will be held in Devils Lake, ND on March 4, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church Parish Center. Burial with Military Honors following the funeral Mass in St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery. Visitation will be held Thursday, March 3, 2022 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. with a rosary and vigil service at 7:00 p.m. The Rosary will be led by the Knights of Columbus with a 4th Degree Honor Guard.

Mike was born August 5, 1924, the 11th of 12 children born to Michael Kurtz and Frances (Schmidt) Kurtz at his parents farm near Orrin, ND. He attended the one room country school near the farm. He hated going to school, where he had difficulty learning in a language he did not speak, which led to not understanding the school Master. One day he came home crying, and told his father that the school master, had given him a “lickin”, so his father promptly gave him another. From that point on, he never told anyone about any problems at school, and hid in the chicken coup whenever he had to cry. He went to school through the eighth grade. After the family lost the farm during the 1930’s Depression, Mike finished his youthful years in the rural Devils Lake Area, often working for other farmers, only getting free room and board for pay. During WWII, he was drafted into the Navy and served in the Pacific Theater on the sea plane tender, USS Hamlin AV15, as a Seaman 1st Class. The ship was in several operations, including Saipan, Ulithi, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Karama Rhetto, and finally ending the war in Tokyo Bay, Japan. His battle station was on a gun crew manning a 30-caliber machine gun, during the many Kamikaze attacks on the US Fleet. Being on a ship full of gasoline, bombs, mines, and ammunition, he never thought he would survive all the attacks. Although always religious, the war instilled in him his need to pray and have devotion for his Savior, which he had for the rest of his life.

After the War Mike returned to Devils Lake and married Fern Risovi in 1946. He found that jobs with good pay to support a growing family, were hard to find. His father-in-law, Frank, taught him the Art of Carpentry, at which he excelled. He and Fern started Michael Kurtz Construction in the 50’s, and later added Central Ready Mix, and Lake Lumber. He built many commercial buildings in Devils Lake and the surrounding communities. He also built, many Catholic churches mostly in the Fargo Diocese. Saint Joseph Church in Williston, was the biggest, and most beautiful of all. He also built the Lutheran Church in Churches Ferry, and an addition to the Lutheran Church in Devils Lake. Mike never let the grass grow under his feet and was constantly on the move. This ambition led him to starting several other business ventures in Devils Lake. His favorite sayings - “It’s all common sense” and “never pay interest”. Later in life he married Doris Blake, and they spent summers in Devils Lake, and winters in Florida. After Doris passed away, he married his now estranged wife, Pat Varney, however they lived apart for the last five years. Mike was a devoted member and supporter of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Devils Lake. He belonged to various Fraternal and Professional Organizations, i.e. Elks, Knights of Columbus, Associated General Contractors of ND, VFW, Eagles, American Legion, and Past President of the ND Cement Association.

He is survived by his children, Patricia Fay Walsh of Sandy, Utah; Linda Kay Johnson (Bob) of Bismarck; Michael Keith (Mary Lou) of Devils Lake; Cynthia Ann Stenhjem of Fargo; Brenda Marie Murray of West Fargo; 11 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, sister-in-law Marie (Frank) Kurtz, many nieces and nephews, and his special comfort puppy Zoey Murray.

He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Fern, second wife Doris, son Douglas, infant granddaughter Dawn Johnson, brothers: John, Anthony, Frank and two infant brothers, sisters: Lena Black, Katherine Black, Mary Ripplinger, Margaret Bischoff, Joanne Nelson and Phyllis Miller. The family would like to thank the staff at Eventide in Fargo and Valley of the Red River Hospice for the care they gave Mike these past few months.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in Mike’s name may be made to the St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Posted online on March 01, 2022

Published in Devils Lake Journal

Obituaries in Devils Lake, ND | Devils Lake Daily Journal
Obituaries in Devils Lake, ND | Devils Lake Daily Journal

Michael "Mike" Kurtz Jr.

Michael Kurtz, Jr, 97, Devils Lake, passed away on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, with Cyndy and Brenda by his side, in Fargo, ND. Funeral Services will be held in Devils Lake, ND on March 4, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church Parish Center. Burial with Military Honors following the funeral Mass in St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery. Visitation will be held Thursday, March 3, 2022 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. with a rosary and vigil service at 7:00 p.m. The Rosary will be led by the Knights of Columbus with a 4th Degree Honor Guard.

Mike was born August 5, 1924, the 11th of 12 children born to Michael Kurtz and Frances (Schmidt) Kurtz at his parents farm near Orrin, ND. He attended the one room country school near the farm. He hated going to school, where he had difficulty learning in a language he did not speak, which led to not understanding the school Master. One day he came home crying, and told his father that the school master, had given him a “lickin”, so his father promptly gave him another. From that point on, he never told anyone about any problems at school, and hid in the chicken coup whenever he had to cry. He went to school through the eighth grade. After the family lost the farm during the 1930’s Depression, Mike finished his youthful years in the rural Devils Lake Area, often working for other farmers, only getting free room and board for pay. During WWII, he was drafted into the Navy and served in the Pacific Theater on the sea plane tender, USS Hamlin AV15, as a Seaman 1st Class. The ship was in several operations, including Saipan, Ulithi, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Karama Rhetto, and finally ending the war in Tokyo Bay, Japan. His battle station was on a gun crew manning a 30-caliber machine gun, during the many Kamikaze attacks on the US Fleet. Being on a ship full of gasoline, bombs, mines, and ammunition, he never thought he would survive all the attacks. Although always religious, the war instilled in him his need to pray and have devotion for his Savior, which he had for the rest of his life.

After the War Mike returned to Devils Lake and married Fern Risovi in 1946. He found that jobs with good pay to support a growing family, were hard to find. His father-in-law, Frank, taught him the Art of Carpentry, at which he excelled. He and Fern started Michael Kurtz Construction in the 50’s, and later added Central Ready Mix, and Lake Lumber. He built many commercial buildings in Devils Lake and the surrounding communities. He also built, many Catholic churches mostly in the Fargo Diocese. Saint Joseph Church in Williston, was the biggest, and most beautiful of all. He also built the Lutheran Church in Churches Ferry, and an addition to the Lutheran Church in Devils Lake. Mike never let the grass grow under his feet and was constantly on the move. This ambition led him to starting several other business ventures in Devils Lake. His favorite sayings - “It’s all common sense” and “never pay interest”. Later in life he married Doris Blake, and they spent summers in Devils Lake, and winters in Florida. After Doris passed away, he married his now estranged wife, Pat Varney, however they lived apart for the last five years. Mike was a devoted member and supporter of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Devils Lake. He belonged to various Fraternal and Professional Organizations, i.e. Elks, Knights of Columbus, Associated General Contractors of ND, VFW, Eagles, American Legion, and Past President of the ND Cement Association.

He is survived by his children, Patricia Fay Walsh of Sandy, Utah; Linda Kay Johnson (Bob) of Bismarck; Michael Keith (Mary Lou) of Devils Lake; Cynthia Ann Stenhjem of Fargo; Brenda Marie Murray of West Fargo; 11 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, sister-in-law Marie (Frank) Kurtz, many nieces and nephews, and his special comfort puppy Zoey Murray.

He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Fern, second wife Doris, son Douglas, infant granddaughter Dawn Johnson, brothers: John, Anthony, Frank and two infant brothers, sisters: Lena Black, Katherine Black, Mary Ripplinger, Margaret Bischoff, Joanne Nelson and Phyllis Miller. The family would like to thank the staff at Eventide in Fargo and Valley of the Red River Hospice for the care they gave Mike these past few months.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in Mike’s name may be made to the St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Posted online on March 01, 2022

Published in Devils Lake Journal