Leslie Kittelson, of Milan, died Sunday, March 8, 2020 at Luther Haven Nursing Home in Montevideo at the age of 92.

Memorial services will be held Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 11:00 AM at Kviteseid Lutheran Church in Milan. Pastor Kristine Isder will officiate, and burial will be in Kviteseid Lutheran Milan Methodist Cemetery.

Visitation will be held Friday, March 20, 2020 from 5:00 - 7:00 PM at Anderson-TeBeest Funeral Home in Montevideo with a prayer service at 6:30 PM. Visitation will continue one hour prior to services at the church.

Memorials are preferred to the Kviteseid Lutheran Milan Methodist Cemetery Fund, or a charity of your choice.

Leslie Gene Kittelson was born to Selmer and Lillian (Norman) Kittelson in Meadowlands, Minnesota on July 23, 1927. He was baptized in the Meadowlands Methodist Episcopal Church. The family moved to Louisburg and then to Milan which Les would always regard as home. He was confirmed at the Milan Methodist Church. On September 10, 1949 he married the love of his life, Rudell Ione Olson of Big Bend City. Les and Rio raised five children on their farm north of Milan and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last year. Their marriage remains a testament to commitment, faith, and unconditional love.

At age 16 Les began farming, at first with his dad, then his brothers, and eventually his son. In 1962 Les began recruiting members for the National Farmers Organization and at the same time began raising sugar beets. In the early 1970's he worked with other farmers in the formation of Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative and was fortunate to have served on the first Board of Directors including a term as Chairman. In 2005 Les was chosen as Chippewa County Conservationist of the Year. He was also a member of the Milan Lions Club.

In 1981 Les and Rio retired from farming and moved to Holiday Island, Arkansas, where they co-owned and operated a motel. They enjoyed traveling, visiting Canada, Mexico, several European countries, and all 50 states. Over time each of their grandchildren accompanied them on a trip. Following Hurricane Katrina, Les and Rio participated in three different re-building projects in Slidell, Louisiana. In 2010 they moved back to Milan to enjoy their final years of retirement with family, friends, and the land they loved.

Les was a life-long learner and had a curiosity for seeking new knowledge. He enjoyed writing and published his autobiography, “My Memories, More or Less”. He kept up on current events and trends. He utilized his children and grandchildren to challenge his perspective and expose him to new ways of seeing the world. He was an incredibly proud and loving dad and grandpa. With five children who resided coast to coast, Les instilled the importance of remaining connected and valuing each other's differences. He delighted in his grandchildren. His playful and mischievous nature provided them countless laughs and fond memories. He was a kid at heart with a twinkle in his eye. His family will miss his recitation of stories and poems learned in his childhood, his cheerful smile, and holding his enormous hands.

He is survived by his wife Rio of Milan; children, Alan of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, Larry (Alicia) of Milan, Judith (Larry) Culhane of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, Richard of Vancouver, Washington, and Kari (Bobby) Dowell of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Also surviving are a sister, Wanda Driver; brother, Kenneth (Janet); sisters-in-law, Adeline Ellingboe and Char Kittelson; 13 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Leslie was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Ralph and Walter, sisters Hazel and Eleanor Stuckey, and grandson Erik Culhane.

Blessed be the memory of Les Kittelson.