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Obituary of Loren Kallsen
This was written by Loren Kallsen for his family and friends preceding his passing on November 16, 2017. The story of my life is a long one. I’ll give you the short version, thereby protecting the innocent. We’ll start with life in Pipestone: I was the 5th son of longtime Pipestone county auditor August Kallsen. My birth mother, Lore Meyer, died young. I was raised by my step mother, Nebraskan Ada Newman, a registered nurse. Four brothers—Louis, Richard, Robert and Les preceded me in death. I was co-captain of Pipestone’s 1951 undefeated football team: halfback, play caller, linebacker. I was awarded honorable mention All State and was invited to play in the North/South All Star game. My classmates voted me best athlete and best actor. I met my girlfriend, Shirley Popma of Pipestone, at a dance in Lake Benton and we attended the University of Minnesota together. Motivated by illustrious professors, I studied more than had been my habit, including auditing graduate courses in American studies. Shirley majored in English and Humanities. I took a B.A. in English and minored in History and Composition. I won two University-wide writing prizes: for a short story submitted to The Ivory Tower (the U of M literary magazine), and for the first chapter of a novel. Paying my way through college was accomplished by working as a deckhand/bosun on the ore freighters on the Great Lakes for three seasons, sailing between Duluth, Chicago, Buffalo, and other ports. Those years taught me the value of bluffing while gambling, how to enjoy a few limited hours of “land time” before getting back on the boat, and how to hold tight when a Lake Superior storm suddenly arises. A winter storm could leave a foot of ice on the deck. My first job after graduation was news writer at WCCO Radio. From there I became a street reporter for KSTP TV and Radio, covering city hall, police, human-interest stories, and cultural events (I was a needlessly ferocious critic of the popular arts). Shirley and I were married in 1960. It was the best decision I ever made and we went on to live a hell of a life. In 1962 in search of adventure and with a small savings in the bank, we loaded everything we had into our VW Beetle and drove through Appalachia, onward to Virginia to see Jefferson’s house, then meandered through the Blue Ridge mountains until we saw the towers of Manhattan. Our first New York City apartment was in the Chelsea neighborhood, in a third floor walk up built in 1850. It was beautiful but when the wind came off the Hudson in the winter it didn’t stop a bit as it blasted through our house. Our two wood burning fire places were essential to survival. Our second apartment overlooked Greenwich Village and all of lower Manhattan. The counterculture was forming and somewhere in our neighborhood a fellow Minnesotan named Bob Dylan was playing guitar. It was an amazing moment to be in the great city. Shirley went to work as assistant registrar at the famous New School for Social Research. I happened into a job as Executive Producer-Film and Broadcasting for ITT, at the time one of the great worldwide conglomerates. My passport was stamped with exotic travel throughout Europe, South America and the Caribbean. The job focused on producing, writing, and directing informational motion pictures. Many of the films won gold awards in major international film competitions. In 1972, now the parents of two young sons, Lincoln and Jason, we decided to return to Minneapolis and set up our own production company, Vibrant Films Inc., focusing on films for corporate America. At our office at 8th and Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis, the awards continued to flow in. Through those years, I coached basketball for both of the boys and taught them many things including skillful shooting of a BB gun, how to grill a good steak, and the inner workings of a 35mm camera. Life on Minnehaha Creek was endlessly fascinating, full of snapping turtles and canoeing. Summer weekends were often spent fishing with the boys on area lakes. Winter weekends were time for sledding on the local hill, followed by a raging fire in the fireplace. My much loved and admired wife Shirley continues her celebration of life. On nice days she can be found on her pleasant elevated deck in Bloomington, probably sharing a glass of chardonnay, aka “a bump,” with the family: Lincoln (Sue), Jason (Angela), grandsons Ben and Spencer. As winter gives way to spring this upcoming year, my ashes will be buried at Ihlen cemetery overlooking the historic Kallsen/Wilson farm. A celebration of life and memories is planned for late April at Meadow Sweet Farm, with showings of my (better) movies, my books set out for browsing, some great jazz on the speakers, and rare steaks on the grill, just the way I like them.