Karleen Kay Kirchner


March 4, 1937 - December 17, 2023

Karleen Kay Kirchner, was born to Frank and Amanda (Amundson) Kirchner on March 4, 1937 in Slayton Minn., and passed away December 17, 2023, at the age of 86. 

Karleen was Baptized in the Lutheran faith in Slayton, Minn. When Karleen was 2 years old, the family moved to Ruthton, Minn. where she was raised and attended school. She graduated from Ruthton Public High School in 1955.

The fall of 1955 Karleen attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree. She taught at public schools in Minnesota and Illinois. In 1964 she was asked to join the faculty of Augustana College and taught Physical Education for several years. She was named the first president of the Board of Directors of the Girls Club of Sioux Falls. Later she became the director of the Girls Club and built the Girls Club into the largest club in the United States at that time.

She moved to Hot Springs, S.D., she owned and ran a motel. She was elected to the Common Council of the City of Hot Springs and served as an Alderman for 14 years and later Mayor for 4 years. She also served as an officer of the Board of Directors of the Mammoth Site of Hot Sprints for eleven years.

Her family remembers Karleen as a loving sister, loving to all her nieces and nephews and a very devoted teacher and civic leader. When asked, what her greatest achievement was, without even thinking, she said “being a teacher, teaching and guiding young people was a privilege and I loved it.”

There is a quote from Elenor Roosevelt that sums up Karleen’s life: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams!”

Karleen is survived by two sisters, Marilyn (Kirchner) Meier of Andover and her twin sister, Kathleen (Kirchner) of Aitkin; nieces and nephews, Contance Mohs, Don Ranheim, Richard Meier, Robert Meier, Jance Hedland, Lynette Bertel, Michael Lemire, Diane Widhalm, and James Lemire, as well as cousins and countless friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; one infant brother, Alpha; sister, Audrey Ranheim and three brothers-in-law, Elmer Ranheim, LaVane Meier, and Herbert Lemire; and one nephew, Jon Ranheim.

Fall River County Herald Star

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