Sunday, May 25, 2008
Remembering a Remarkable Man.
To me, Leo was as one half of the dynamic duo -- Sally and Leo. Sally, who praises my Christmas letter every year and actually writes back with a wonderful personal letter. Leo, who was always with his camera. My earliest memories of Leo involved him taking pictures. Later, when I saw some of the photos in his collection I discovered a treasure. Not only did Leo take beautiful pictures, but he captured generations of family history. Yesterday was a memorial service and once again I was overwhelmed by this dear man. He was always a very special person. Unique, fascinating, spunky, smart. And listening to the stories and meeting more of his family and his beloved neighbors I was reminded even more of the wonder that was Leo. The world was a better place with him in it. He will be missed.
Leopold "Leo" Kaiser passed away in Fargo, North Dakota on May 11, 2008. He was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 29, 1913 to Peter and Charlotte Sturtz Kaiser, and was raised in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. On April 23, 1939, he married his wife, Selina, and they lived in Fargo for most of their 69 years together. At the time of his passing, they were together in their own home.
More than anything, Leo enjoyed working, which started early for him at a family farm in Wisconsin, and continued from his paper route as a young boy, from which he earned the money to buy a family car, to his nearly 60 years in the shoe business. His shoe business career started with Kinny Shoes and continued in Fargo for Moody’s Department Store and Hall Allen Shoe Company. In 1954 he and his wife started Kaiser Shoes in Moorhead, and later added the Red Wing Shoe Store in Fargo. From these local stores he served customers, locally and around the world, who had unusual sizes or unique foot challenges.
Leo served in World War II, where he lost an eye, but managed to adjust and compensate for this disability throughout his life.
Beyond his work, Leo loved photography and providing a firm handshake. He was quite an amateur photographer, and has cataloged over 50,000 slides. He was one of the first people in the area, in the late 1940’s, to develop his own color prints. In retirement, starting at age 72, he was a volunteer at Dakota Boys Ranch and the Salvation Army stores, where he fixed cameras and helped with other needed services. For the last several years he was a constant walker and bike rider in Prairiewood. Not only did he walk or ride his bike 1,200 miles in 2007 at the age of 93, but he documented it. When his son, Marv, suggested that he should perhaps think about the safety factor of switching to a 3-wheel bike, Leo chose to ignore this advice, and continued riding his 2-wheeled version with the little bell he would ring in greeting to all the neighbors he would pass.
He is survived by his wife Selina "Sally" and his son Marvin (Joyce) of Williston; two granddaughters, Shannon (Shane) Street, and their two daughters, Kaitlin and Gracee; Dr. Susan Kaiser and her fiancé, Ken Posey, all of Austin Texas. He is also survived by his brother, Immanual, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and many nieces and nephews and their families.
He will be missed by all the wonderful neighbors who have befriended him, and made him and his wife part of their families (and also borrowed his tools).
Preceding him in death are his parents; brother, Peter; and sisters, Irene and Irma; along with an infant brother, Gerhart.
There will be no funeral service at this time, but a memorial service will be announced at a later date.
Published Tuesday, May 13, 2008 in The Fargo Forum