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Burton Kreitlow, 93

Burton Kreitlow, age 93, of Grand Marais, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin Madison, died Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010, in hospice at Cook County North Shore Hospital.

A memorial service will take place Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. at the Congregational Church in Grand Marais. Memorial gifts can be made to the hospice program at Cook County North Shore Hospital.

Burt was born in 1917, at his parents’ farm near Howard Lake, as bells rang throughout the country celebrating the ending of World War I. He grew up milking cows before school, and learning all the skills needed to help on an 80-acre farm.

Burt graduated from Howard Lake High School at the age of 15 as the Great Depression was at its peak. He was able to get into a county normal school program that trained teachers for rural schools. Two years later, he qualified to teach first through eighth grade at a school near Montrose.

During the next two years of teaching, he saved enough money to enter the agricultural education program at the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1940, and was immediately hired as county extension agent in Crookston.

Then came World War II, and Burt was called up to serve as a US Army Air Force crew chief on the 376th Squadron based in North Africa, one of five bombardment groups engaged in a dangerous 1943 mission to destroy Nazi-controlled Romanian oil fields near Ploiesti.

He married Doris Ounsworth during an unexpected furlough in 1944, when he was transferred to Texas to train on B-29s. The marriage lasted for 66 years.

Returning home after the war, Burt had the opportunity to earn his PhD under the GI Bill. After teaching one year at Michigan State University, he was invited to accept a joint appointment at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in the departments of agricultural education and the College of Education, just as the new field of adult education was developing. For 32 years Burt held that position, and became the driving force behind a “Lifespan Education” curriculum. He also shepherded many fine students through their doctoral degrees in the field of education, retiring in 1981.

The Kreitlows purchased land near Grand Marais at Rosebush Point in 1952, and built a summer cabin in 1956. After retirement and several additions to the cabin, they moved there to live full time, and began pursuit of a second career as writers, jointly publishing a book entitled “Creative Planning for the Second Half of Life” in 1997, based on interviews with 140 successful retirees.

Burt was a Lion’s Club member for over 50 years, and an active participant in the Congregational Church of Grand Marais. He was the inspiration and first chair for Grand Marais’ Homestead Cooperative.

Burt had a candy-making hobby which kicked in every December. He also taught an adult class in candy-making in Grand Marais. After he first consented to taste wine in the 1970s, he became expert in wine-making, and taught a few people, like Larry Krause and Del Rosenquist, to make wine. He was always the teacher!

Memoir writing was another hobby, and Homestead Writers, the group he led for 20 years, continues to meet. His memoir, “75 Years a Teacher,” will be published posthumously.

In addition to his wife, Doris, Burt is survived by two daughters, Karen (Pat) Neal of Grand Marais, and Candace (Pete) Bauer of Brandon, OR; three granddaughters, Jessica Neal, Tiffany Hafermann, and Holly Brook Hafermann; a brother, Willard Kreitlow, and niece Marian Kreitlow of Howard Lake; and a nephew, David Kreitlow of Portland, OR.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Esther Kreitlow