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Keith Frederick Kapphahn, 94

Keith Frederick Kapphahn was born on December 5, 1926, in Hudson Twp, SE of Alexandria, MN., the third child to Elmer and Etta (Barham) Kapphahn. He attended country school to the beginning of 3rd grade and then in 1935 his family moved to Newburg, OR.  A Miss Harvey got him interested I reading the “Saber Tooth” books and from that time on he was an avid reader and a much better student, one who loved school and teachers.  In 1398 his family moved back to Minnesota to a farm north of Bertha.  The farm was sold so they moved into Bertha for two years when they bought the Freeman farm south of Bertha where he attended school until he was drafted into the Army in March of 1945.  He was taking infantry basic training when High School graduation took place in Bertha, so his mom went up to accept his diploma.  After basic training he was sent to Camp Adair, OR and then to Sacramento to ship out.  The day he stepped aboard the ship to go; the surrender of Japan papers was signed.  He was then assigned to the 596 Engineers Base Depot outside of Manila in the Philippine Islands at Quezon City.  He was discharged in May of 1947 and returned home by way of San Francisco, CA and went to work at the Bertha Co-op Creamery.  Keith was united in marriage to Ellen Maude Maine on June 27, 1948, at the Bertha Congregational Church and he continued to work at the creamery and farmed Ellen’s dad’s 80 acres.  With his job at the creamery looking shaky due to the consolidation of creameries he was encouraged to go to college under the GI bill, so he enrolled at the University of Minnesota in January of 1949 to become a vocational agriculture leader.  Keith completed a B.A. degree cum laude in 2 ½ years and moved to Ashby, MN where he started the Vocational Ag and Farm Shop program where he taught for 13 years.  During the summers he attended the U of M earning his Master’s degree in 1962 and then became the High School Principal in Ashby.   In 1968 he earned his Specialist degree from the U of M and in 1969 became the Superintendent of Schools in Marietta, MN where he worked until moving to Greenbush in 1975 taking the position of Superintendent and later became the Superintendent in Badger, MN. as well.  He retired 1989 and then went to work as the Director of Northwest Education Cooperative.  Ellen passed away in 1995 and he then established a scholarship program in 2000 through the Northwest Minnesota Foundation to honor Ellen and help graduates from Greenbush/Middle River with 2 scholarships and 1 scholarship for a Badger graduate.  Keith continued to make his home in Greenbush until entering LifeCare Greenbush Manor assisted living and in May of 2021 entered LifeCare Greenbush Manor where he passed away on June 5, 2021 at the age of 94.
Keith, (Fred), was a member of the Greenbush American Legion Post #88, a charter member of the Greenbush/Badger Lions Club where he served as secretary, was active in the Bethel Men’s Group where he served as Secretary for a number of years.
The family cabin was a special place that created many memorable times as family would gather in large or small groups to learn from this very special man.  Children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren could feel welcomed and loved as he imparted his caring and wisdom, sometimes with a quiet subtlety and other times more directly!  He loved sharing what he knew about woodworking, plants, animals, life, having bonfires, and especially fishing.
Keith is survived by his daughter Patty Kapphahn of Henning, MN, 2 sons Greg of Alexandria, MN and Charlie (Elaine) Kapphahn of Greenbush; 8 grandchildren AnneMarie (Chris) Vannurden, Elizabeth (Scott) Kiffmeyer, Heather Cromwell (Jerry Adolph), Garrett Kapphahn, Kris Kapphahn, Sarah (Mark) Abelsen, Rachel Kapphahn, Jordan (Kristi) Kapphahn; Great grandchildren Andrew (Brooke) Vannurden, Luke Vannurden, Rees Vannurden, Isabella (Mike) Fitzgerald, Alex Cromwell, Vincent Cromwell, Benett Kiffmeyer, Reid Kiffmeyer, Aiden Kapphahn, Cael Kapphahn, Theta Kapphahn, Leon Kapphahn, Jeremiah Pope, James Abelsen, Sam Abelsen, Eleanor Abelsen, Jaxon Kapphahn and Thorin Kapphahn.  Great-great grandchildren M.J. and Lincoln Fitzgerald.  Siblings Richard Kapphahn and Clare (Marion) Kapphahn, Dee Watts and Nonie Costello, sisters-in-law Lynne Kapphahn and Joann (John) Bluhm, and numerous other relatives.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Ellen, sons Michael and James Kapphahn, Inlaws Harry and Mildred Maine, 2 brothers Jack and David, 1 sister Mary Robinson.
“If I’ve helped anyone in this life along the way, then my life has been a success.  Thanks for all the help in life from parents, family, in-laws, friends and even some so-called enemies.  Lots of help made life a lot easier.”
A Memorial Service was held at 11:00AM, Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at Bethel Lutheran Church of Greenbush with Pastor Janelle Hennager presiding.  Linda Sovde was the Organist and Honorary Bearers were the Greenbush-Badger Lions members.  Military honors were accorded by the Greenbush American Legion Post #88.
Visitation was held from 5 to 7PM on Monday evening at the church with a prayer service at 7PM.  Visitation was also held one hour prior to services at the church.
Interment services were held at Bethel Lutheran Cemetery of Greenbush following services.
Arrangements are with Collins Funeral Home of Greenbush.
An online guest book is available at

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