OBIT: Melvin, "Babe" Kunkel

Melvin, “Babe” Kunkel, 97, of Devils Lake, ND, formerly of Southam, ND, passed away on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, at the Good Samaritan Center in Lakota, ND. Due to Covid-19 concerns, a private family burial will be held on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. in the Devils Lake Cemetery with Reverend Michael Suezlzle officiating. Military Honors will be accorded by the Neathery-Simensen Post No. 756, Devils Lake Veterans of Foreign Wars and the North Dakota Military Funeral Honors Team. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. Melvin was born to Arthur and Grace (Burt) Kunkel on Oct. 19, 1923, in Devils Lake. He attended and graduated from high school in Southam. His father owned a general store there and the family lived above the store, which made it convenient for Babe to sneak downstairs and help himself to the candy jars. This gave him a sweet tooth, which he kept his entire life. Upon graduating from high school, he served in the US Army during WWII, stationed in the Po Valley in Italy for two years. Babe loved telling the family his war stories. The best story, however took place before the war, with details of how he met his future wife, Julie Dykhoff. Babe’s friend, Herb, had a date with Julie’s older sister, Ester, to a dance in Doyon, ND. Grandma Dykhoff, the girls’ mother, insisted that Julie go with her sister to chaperone. Herb, however, paid Babe to be with Julie. It seems they hit it off during that dance and many love letters were shared during the war. That dance must have been a fun one, as both couples were later married. When Babe returned from the service, he and Julie wed on Nov. 30, 1946, and she remained the love of his life for 70 years. Babe was employed by Cities Service Oil Company before becoming co-owner in Armour’s Oil, Inc. and the Country Kitchen Restaurant. He purchased his own bulk oil truck and spent many a cold winter night delivering fuel oil to farmers in the area. He was very fortunate to retire at an early age, but being idle wasn’t for him. He started helping his son-in-law, Lanny Gulseth, on their farm and didn’t quit working for 30 years! Babe was the best rock picker in Ramsey County. Later in life, along with Julie, they cared for their great-grandson, Keegan, after school. They would anxiously wait, looking out the window anticipating his arrival. This was the highlight of their day. A lifetime member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Babe faithfully attended every Sunday and served on various church boards. He was also a member of the Elks and VFW. As a young man, Babe played the trombone in a band with his aunt at the piano for many barn dances in Southam. He also enjoyed hunting and was an avid ice fisherman, filling the freezer every year with lots of perch and walleye to be enjoyed during summer family gatherings. Babe loved downhill skiing for many years, along with keeping a meticulous yard, babying his truck, feeding the birds and caring for Julie’s cat, who loved him best. The family wishes to thank the staff at the Lakota Good Samaritan Center for their dedicated, excellent care, and Dr. Jackie Downs for her compassionate concern in keeping our dad comfortable and pain-free. He is survived by; sons, Scott (Debra) Kunkel, Moorhead, MN, and Dr. Steven (Robin) Kunkel, Ann Arbor, MI; daughters, Susan (Michael) Yanis, Sydney, Australia, and Sheree (Lanny) Gulseth, Devils Lake; grandchildren, Judd (Alex) Kunkel, Tyler (Kylie) Kunkel and Sean (Ashlie) Kunkel, Matthew (Margaret) Kunkel and Christopher (Amanda) Kunkel, Misty Streed, Jesse Fortune, and Jonathan (Deni) Fortune, Wendy (Josh Burdick) Gulseth, and Kyle (Sara) Gulseth; great-grandchildren, Jadeveon, Alexis, Alise, Brooke, Hannah, Madelyn, Braden, Brianna (Erik), Tavian, Tristin, Jaidyn, Harper, Scout, Gabe, and Keegan, (with two more on the way!); great-great grandsons, Kylen and Grayson; sisters-in-law, Doris (Don) Mueller, Carol (Dave) Coyer; many nieces and nephews. Babe was preceded in death by; his dear wife, Julie; parents; brother, Floyd Kunkel; and sister, Fern Christesen; sisters-in-law, Izzy Rafferty, Ester Falk and Theresa Woolsy; brothers-in-law, Lyle, Lawrence, Louis and Carl Dykhoff. Babe was a quiet, humble man who loved his Lord, served his country with honor and adored his family deeply. He is immeasurably missed, but we hope he is once again dancing with Julie.

Published on November 24, 2020