Cover photo for Raymond Gregory Kuhl's Obituary
Raymond Gregory Kuhl Profile Photo

Raymond Gregory Kuhl

August 8, 1933 — December 9, 2023

Raymond Gregory Kuhl

Raymond Gregory Kuhl passed away December 9th 2023 in Robbinsdale MN from an aortic aneurysm and debilitating Alzheimer's disease. His broken heart of losing his wife of 69 years 2 months earlier precipitated his decline.

Ray was born and raised in Sioux Falls SD on August 8th, 1933, to Raymond and Bernadine (Even) Kuhl. As an only child, Ray developed many strong qualities through his Catholic education and desire for community. Ray was a proud lifelong Catholic attending and graduating St Joseph’s Cathedral 1-12 school where he was a proud member of the infamous ‘Northender’s neighborhood’ on Menlo Avenue and Terrace Park. He was an avid gatherer of friends creating baseball and football neighborhood teams. On Dec 7, 1941, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and US declared war, his focus changed. His father’s car business, Kuhl Motors, would have no new or used cars to sell as the war effort would change all car manufacturers to making tanks and airplanes. At age 8, he didn’t understand the pressure of his dad’s panic & disappearance, but he decided to act, and his baseball and football teams turned into his own Northender’s Marine Platoon. He was inspired at the local movie theatre which showed the American soldiers going to war, appointing himself as 1st Lieutenant & recruiting his neighbor friends to be Sgt Major, Corporals, Buck Privates & Private 1st class, even including the neighborhood girls as 1st & 2nd Lt Nurses.

He developed into a 1st class baseball pitcher for his school, & with aspirations of playing pro he attended St. Thomas College in Saint Paul on a scholarship & played baseball while studying journalism. He had a record 17 strikeout streak & a mean curveball until a shoulder injury challenged his direction. He returned to South Dakota to finish his college education as a Jackrabbit at SDSU as well as becoming an official 1st Lieutenant through the ROTC program in Brookings SD where his career took root & he joined the Air National Guard. He met the love of his life, Jacqueline Marone, in the summer of 1954. Following a short engagement, they were married December 29th in Huron, SD, and began their life together in Waco, TX shortly thereafter where Ray was stationed. Ray was proud to be trained as Airborne Combat Navigator in an F-89D, a fighter plane during the post WWII era and entering the days of the Cold War. He was proud to be a vet and thrilled to be recognized through the Veterans Affairs for his years of service.

Ray’s love of creating community evolved into a love of rural electric cooperatives where he joined East River Electric Power in Madison SD and became the statewide editor for SDREA. He found he enjoyed local politics & involved himself in city councils, school boards, campaign manager for state congressmen, and even a coordinator for South Dakota's George McGovern run for President. He was a lifelong Democrat with special interest in public utilities. He travelled farm to farm promoting the idea of electric cooperatives throughout South Dakota, wrote many letters to the editors, as well as stories in the REA magazine—many which were recognized throughout the cooperatives, state, & even gaining national attention. In 1962 he moved his family of 6 to Alexandria, VA where he joined the ranks of the NRECA as associate editor of their national magazine. Besides an excellent writer, Ray was an avid photographer and won an award for the photo of JFK, Sioux Native American Chief, and Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall at the dedication of the great Oahe Dam, which created a great source of electricity for the state of SD and surrounding area. The assassination of JFK was a profound event in Ray's life-- he attended the funeral procession with his family on Pennsylvania Ave & paid his respects at the US Capitol Rotunda with his eldest daughter. He returned to Sioux Falls with his family in 1964 to be closer to his aging parents and to further his career as PR Director at Sioux Valley Empire Electric Association commuting daily to Coleman SD.

In 1977 he became executive manager of SD Association of Rural Water Systems. He was instrumental in connecting farmers to a good and healthy source of water, going farm to farm, county after county, to educate his audience in obtaining clean water through pipes instead of contaminated water through wells. The new water quality was conducive to raising livestock, especially hogs, and a great improvement for family health. Ray used his skills from REA cooperative development to create cooperatives of rural water systems & was instrumental in establishing cooperatives throughout the state. His approach was all-encompassing. He worked with local and statewide politicians to establish their existence as well as served on local economic development boards.

In 1979 he became general manager of MECA (Michigan Electric Cooperatives Association) and moved his family to live near Lansing MI. Now a family of seven he moved and established his roots for his three youngest children to Okemos, MI, became a devout MSU Spartan fan and continued his work in economic development through boards of the local Township, legislative committees & VP of Great Lakes Electric Consumers Association, & President of Rural Services Cooperative of Michigan Statewide.

He retired in 1996 from REA, enjoyed a trip to Ghana as advisor to rural water cooperatives development, and spent the next 20 years traveling with the home base of Michigan and Florida. He and Jackie enjoyed many great travels abroad, created great friends in Estero, FL and visited their 13 grandchildren often in Minnesota and Michigan. His last years were spent at Arbor Lakes Senior Living Memory Care with his wife surrounded by their 4 remaining children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. He is survived by Terri Kuhl (FL), Lorri (Craig) Finn (MN), Greg (Staci) Kuhl (MN), Julie (Dave) Van Wyk (MN), grandchildren Aaron Scherr (Jessica), Kristina DeLion, Liz (Chris Sager)Manning, Jen (Pat) Kellin, F. Michael Wehling, Kimberly (Greg) Doriott, Kyle Finn, Kevin (Tessa) Wilson, Tashia (Johnny) Gibbs, Stefan(Natalie) Kuhl, Amanda Kuhl, Billy (Lauren) Magrane, Chayse(Kelsey) Magrane & Sosi Van Wyk, great grandchildren AJ, David, Eva, Robbie, Claira, Eryn, Jack, Danny, Max, Sam, Saidie, Henry & Josephine. He was preceded in death by his beloved daughter, Sandra Wilson, and his wife, Jacqueline.

Mass of Christian Burial Wednesday (12/13), 11 AM with visitation starting at 10 AM at the Church of St. Joseph the Worker, 7180 Hemlock Lane North.  Luncheon to follow.

Interment Friday (12/15), 1 PM at St. Michael’s Cemetery, 3001 N. Cliff Avenue, Sioux Falls.

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Past Services

Visitation

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

Church of St. Joseph the Worker

7180 Hemlock Lane North, Maple Grove, MN 55369

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Mass of Christian Burial

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Church of St. Joseph the Worker

7180 Hemlock Lane North, Maple Grove, MN 55369

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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