Gary Kuhlman

Obituary of Gary Kuhlman

A funeral service for Gary Kuhlman, age 76, of Spirit Lake, Iowa, will be held Thursday, October 22nd at 2:00pm at Turner Jenness Funeral Home in Spirit Lake. Visitation will be on Wednesday, October 21st after 3:00pm with the family present from 4:00-6:00pm at Turner Jenness Funeral Home in Spirit Lake. 

Please click for the livestream of Gary's service

On Thursday, October 22nd from 4:30-6:30pm at Lakeside Lutheran Camp, the family invites you to Lakeside Lutheran Camp for a time of remembrance for Gary and his sister, Kathy Swalve. 

On June 2, 1944 Leland and Shirley Kuhlman welcomed their first child, Gary Gale.  Gary lived in Spirit Lake, Iowa his entire life.  He and his five siblings (Dick, Kathy, Tom, Sally and Phoebe) helped their parents farm east of Big Spirit Lake and east of East Lake.  Gary graduated from Spirit Lake High School in the Class of ’62.  He attended Iowa State University in the fall of 1962 studying Mechanical Engineering, then Horticulture before leaving in 1963.  It was an October 1962 ISU dance that one of the first IBM computers was used to match three dance partners, one of which was Linda Sue Pohl.  Gary worked as a farm hand in Terril, IA for Leonard & Dolly Smith when he returned from ISU.

June 6, 1964, Gary and Linda were married in Ames, IA.  Children soon blessed this couple including Sheila, Aleta, and Shawn.  The family lived in the tenant house on the Lewis & Irma Jones farm, where Gary farmed with Lewis and the Kuhlman’s family farms.  In 1975, the family moved across the road into the farmhouse previously resided by his parents and siblings, his Grandparents (Moody & Ruth Cramer), and his Great Grandparents (Tate & Phoebe Barr).

The 1980’s farm crisis was felt especially by the Kuhlman family.  Gary attended night classes at Buena Vista College, graduating in 1991 with a BA in Human Services/Business.  He worked full time for the Spirit Lake Community Schools as a bus mechanic and driver in the mid-80’s, later as Transportation Director until his (first) retirement in May 2006.  He did not stay retired very long, however, and drove bus again until his failing health due to Pulmonary Fibrosis and fear of contracting COVID-19 forced him to retire a second time on March 11, 2020.

In 1994, Gary and Linda divorced.  A new chapter started in Gary’s life.  Although they never married, he loved Gerry Evans.  He loved her three children Sam, Ginger and Sonny as he loved his own.

Gary was a hard worker.  He farmed, was a Security Guard at the Roof Garden in Arnolds Park in the 1960’s, was a Continuing Ed Instructor for School Bus Drivers at Iowa Lakes Community College, worked for Kuhlman Lake Service hauling hoists, volunteered and mowed grass for Lutheran Lakeside Camp, at Kegler’s he maintained the bowling lanes and machines as well as waited tables, The Boy Scouts Troop 168 benefited from his love of children, fishing and camping at the Boundary Waters especially.  Gary and Gerry enjoyed working at the Clay County Fair each September, transporting visitors by golf cart.

Gary enjoyed people.  He served on the Pork, Beef and Sheep Producers.  He and Linda were Foster Parents to several in need.  He loved dancing, especially square dancing back in the day.  He was a member of the Spirit Lake United Methodist Church, where he and Linda served as youth group leaders.  He was a member of the Farm Bureau, served on the ISU Extension Council, and was a supporter of the Dickinson County 4H programs.

Gary was inventive.  He and his brothers were always monkeying around in the shop.  They loved to weld and create.  The results of their work can be remembered every 4th of July in the Lakes Region.  From welding barges (the first fireworks were lit by hand out of sand filled 55-gallon barrels off the barge) to docks (Docks Unlimited) to sheep pens for the Dickinson County Fair.

Most of all, Gary loved and was loved back.  He loved his early friendships with Jim Marks, Marv Miller and Gary Roach and his later friendships with Paul & Jan Heide.  He loved reading books and watching movies.  He loved farming alongside Rick Nelson.  He loved camping with Gary & Sarah Zeman.  He loved animals.  He loved water skiing.  He loved fishing with Joe Andrea, Jr and hunting deer with Paul Savage.  He loved his friends and family.   He loved helping others.  He loved gardening – especially tomato plants.

Gary passed away at Accura HealthCare of Spirit Lake on Friday, October 16TH, 2020.  Gary was preceded in death by his partner Gerry Evans; siblings Dick Kuhlman and Kathy Swalve; parents Leland & Shirley Kuhlman; and grandparents:  Ed & Sadie Kuhlman, Moody & Ruth Cramer.  Gary is survived by his siblings:  Tom (Audrey) Kuhlman of Spirit Lake, IA, Sally (Brad) Lundberg of Dardanelle, AR, and Phoebe (Paul) Hersom of Ruthven, IA; his children:  Sheila (Jason) Tesch of Laramie, WY, Aleta (Kevin) Myers of Austin, MN, Shawn (Alissa) Kuhlman of Wheeling, IL, Sam (Regi) Van Lenning of Fostoria, IA, Ginger Van Lenning of Sioux Falls, SD, and Sonny (Chelsey) Van Lenning of Spirit Lake, IA.; his grandchildren:  Halee (Justin) Turner, Jacob (Ruthanne) Morrow; Sawyer, Trey and Lucas Myers; Sierra Kuhlman; Kaitlyn, Kylie, Karter and Knoxlynn Van Lenning; Jazmin, Marcus and Janessa Van Lenning; Mason, Riley and Liam Van Lenning; his first wife, Linda (Rich) Anderson; and many nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, family and friends.


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