Lars Gerhardt Kindem, age 79 of Northfield, Minnesota passed away Saturday morning, January 26, 2013, at Ecumen Prairie Lodge in Brooklyn Center. The funeral service will be held Saturday, February 9, 2013,at 2 pm with visitation at 1:00 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield. He was a member and sang bass in the choir for many years. He was also a strong supporter of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.
Lars grew up in Northfield at the foot of St. Olaf College’s Manitou Heights at 101 South Lincoln, directly below the Old Main hill where he first learned to ski. Throughout his life, Lars adored telling memorable stories about growing up in Northfield and the College on the Hill he loved so much. His parents, Ingvald and Anna Kindem, came from Norway in 1923, and along with three children. Lars was fluent in Norwegian and all things Norse. Four of his brothers served in World War II. Growing up during World War, Lars shined shoes for Navy cadets at Ytterboe Hall. He was tutored by his mother, a master cook, and learned to create exquisite Norwegian specialities. Many friends remember delicious hand-crafted breads he baked daily, often delivered still warm to appreciative Kierkegaard scholars and others at St. Olaf.
Lars attended Longfellow Elementary School, graduated from Northfield High School in 1951, and from St. Olaf College in 1955. Lars was a lifelong Norse scholar and talented athlete. He went on to earn a Master’s Degree at the University of Minnesota in Semantics and co-wrote a Norwegian dictionary. Lars served as president of Howard Hong’s Kierkegaard House Foundation for many years located at St. Olaf College.
In high school Lars was called “Lefse” because of his mother’s famous lefse. He loved outdoor sports and especially skiing after his older brothers launched him off the St. Olaf Ski Jump. He excelled in virtually everything he did, lettering in track and football, and starring as single wing quarterback on Northfield’s undefeated 1950 football team. At St. Olaf, Lars pole vaulted in track and he proudly wore his St. Olaf letterman’s jacket his entire life.
Lars met Miss Jean Mattson at St. Olaf. They were married and had five children. After St. Olaf, Lars received a Fulbright scholarship and taught history in Norway where son, Lars, was joined by his sister, Nina who was born in Norway. He was a dedicated scholar of Norse and his many friends, teaching associates and former students in Norway will dearly miss him. Returning to Minnesota, Lars and his growing family lived in Burnsville. He coached and taught Norwegian and American history for three decades at North High and Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. He was well known as an incredibly innovative, creative and caring teacher, especially for his tender but disciplined mentoring and coaching abilities. Lars served as a Minnesota high school ski coach longer than any coach in the state, earning him the title “Dean of Coaches.” He was inducted into the Nordic Ski Coach Hall of Fame in 2004 as the most highly successful and groundbreaking coach in the history of the Minneapolis high school system, collecting three state championships and starting the first high school girls ski team in Minnesota. When Lars left North High for Roosevelt, his North High teams had established a dual meet record of 69-0. His teams at North and Roosevelt High Schools won 17 Minneapolis city titles, 119 dual meets, 16 district titles and landed in the first three places in the state a total of seven times.
Lars was a long-time member of the United States Ski Association (USSA), serving on the Board of Directors, President of the Central Division, Vice President of the Nordic Division and on the National Board of Directors where he chaired several committees. He wrote the rules to bring them into international compliance. He traveled to Norway and Finland with a study group to prepare for the Olympic Games. He served as Chief Timekeeper and Stadium Chief where he met the King of Norway at the Lake Placid Olympics. He was elected to the USAA Board of Directors and U.S. Ski Team, Trustee of the U.S. Ski Educational Foundation, and U.S. Olympic Ski Games Committee.
As a devoted father, exceptional friend, scholar, winning coach, and talented teacher, Lars touched thousands of lives. To his family, friends, and students, Lars Kindem, also known as “Argo,” was a uniquely gifted individual who truly made a difference in their lives, making the world a better place from his lasting contributions. Lars was wedded to St. Olaf College and especially devoted to the Choir, for it had a central place in his life, and the sanctity of the names woven into their robes. Whether skiing or singing, Lars loved life and he has left us, the living, an indelible legacy of memories to cherish — precious stories about Northfield and his dog “Argo”, memorable tales of the Cannon River and Dundas lore; hunting and fishing expeditions (Lars still holds the state record for his 2lb-15oz-20in Kokanee salmon he caught in Caribou Lake in 1971). While attending St. Olaf, he cared for the founder of the St. Olaf Choir, F. Melius Christiansen, the grand Choirmaster, in his final days. Ella Hjertaas Roe commanding Lars during an early voice lesson at St. Olaf to “Sing it to your Mother, Lars,” and he went right home and sang it loudly to Anna.
Lars is sadly missed and fondly remembered by his many friends, constant companions, and admirers.
Lars was preceded in death by his parents Ingvald and Anna (Sekse) Kindem; his WW II veteran brothers, Olaf, Halvor, and Alf; daughter Sonja. Lars is survived by his sisters Andi and Margit Anne, brothers Roald (Shirley) and WWII veteran Erling (Joyce), former wife, Jean, children Lars III, Nina, Tor (Erin) and Bjorn (Stephanie); and by five grandchildren Arianna, Tor, Bjorn, Lauren and Erik, son in-law James Hugo and the devoted followers of “Argo,” their indomitable and fearless Fubar leader.
Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home. www.northfieldfuneral.com