Leslie Kittelson, 92, of Milan, died Sunday, March 8, 2020, at Luther Haven.
Graveside services were held Saturday, June 20, 2020, with plans of a public memorial service in the future. Please visit our website at www.andersontebeest.com for updates on when services will be held.
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, Minn., 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 Milan Methodist Church. On Sept. 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, 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 1970s 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, Ark., 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, La. In 2010, they moved back to Milan to enjoy their final years of retirement with family, friends, and the land they loved.
Les was an avid reader and lifelong learner with 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, Ark., Larry (and Alicia), of Milan, Judith (and Larry) Culhane, of Eureka Springs, Richard, of Vancouver, Wash., and Kari (and Bobby) Dowell, of Fayetteville, Ark.; sister, Wanda Driver; brother, Kenneth (and Janet); sisters-in-law, Adeline Ellingboe and Char Kittelson; 13 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Preceding him in death were his parents; brothers, Ralph and Walter; sisters, Hazel and Eleanor Stuckey; and grandson, Erik Culhane.
Blessed be the memory of Les Kittelson.
Arrangements by Anderson-TeBeest Funeral Home in Montevideo. Please visit www.andersontebeest.com to sign the online guest book.