Des Moines Register
Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa
October 21, 2010
OBITUARY - DON KURTH
Don KURTH died unexpectedly early Sunday Morning [October 17, 2010], the likely result of complications suffered from a heart attack earlier
in the week. Even though he had been hospitalized during the preceding week, the prognosis seemed good and throughout the
week he was happy and looking forward to getting back to and continuing a life of energy and purpose. The ICU nurses said
they never had a more ornery patient and one day after having a stint put in, he was hiding behind the elevators to scare
his grandchildren on their way up to see him.
Don lived his entire life in this fashion. He was born in Manchestor, Iowa on March 25, 1935. In 1945 his family moved
to Greeley, Colorado. He said he had to hold the chicken crate all the way. After graduating from High School in 1954,
he joined the 11th Airborne Paratroopers and was stationed in Germany. He made 25 jumps during his three years of
service, and won the 11th Airborne Tennis Championship.
He received both his BA (1957) and his Masters in Audiology (1962) from the University of Northern Colorado, where he was
a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He started one of the first sky diving clubs in 1959 and made 25 jumps,
including his longest: a 60 second delay, falling over a mile in space at 128 MPH. He was always very proud of these
accomplishments, especially considering the infancy of this sport; he fashioned most of his own equipment.
Don moved to Des Moines in 1962 and worked for 20 years as an audiologist with Heartland AEA 11 and then owned his own
audiology business, Industrial Hearing Conservation Services, P.C., for another 20 years. In the 70s, he wrote and
published with a friend several successful national education programs, including Space Talk, an elementary school
learning audio training tool in which he held a patent.
In 2006, Don built a home on Sun Valley Lake and lived there year around. He also worked at the Oakmoor Health Club in
Des Moines for eight years, where he could often be seen at the front desk harassing patrons.
In 2003, Don met Char OPDAHL, of Urbandale, and they have been inseparable sweethearts ever since.
Don was an avid sports fan holding ISU football and basketball season tickets for over 40 years. He enjoyed snow skiing,
water skiing, wind surfing, snorkeling, tennis, boating, golfing, cooking, traveling to Cancun several times a year, and
playing pinochle every Tuesday night with Jim and Iris Gorsche, where at least one charge of cheating was leveled (against
Don) each night. He also loved hosting his grandchildren at his lake house where they played ping pong and endless board
games to the wee hours. Don was very competitive and usually he would announce to these young children during a game
that "prison rules" were now applicable. Don was also a constant prankster and a great amateur magician. More than one
convenience store clerk had to suffer his "burning wallet" trick while he paid for coffee. His flying mongoose was a
favorite pet trick at the Tingley Café.
Both Don's wife (Nancy) of 34 years, and his daughter, Karla KURTH, preceded him in death. Nancy died in 1998 at the age
of 56 and had taught school at Windsor school in Des Moines for many years. Karla, 40, passed away last year, had worked
at Pioneer, and was a long time Beaverdale resident.
Don is survived by his daughter Krista, (Jim) GORSCHE and his
grandchildren: Abby, 13; Olivia, 10; and Jack, 7; as well as a sister Jean CARMICHAEL, and many other family members in
Colorado. He is also survived by Char, and her family, Kevin (Jennifer) OPDAHL, Jack 9, Tucker 6, Rex 4; Kirk (Jill)
OPDAHL, Myles 10, Jayme 7, and Taylor 4; and DJ (Jodi) OPDAHL, (and newborn, Ryan).
He also leaves behind so many
friends from Des Moines and Sun Valley --- too many to name but we know you all loved him as much as we did.
Funeral Services will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m. at Faith Lutheran Church, 10395 University Avenue in Clive, Iowa.
Family will greet friends on Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Iles Funeral Homes - Westover Chapel with a time of sharing
funny stories at 7 p.m. Memorials will be used by the family for a donation to be made in Don's name at a later date.
Online condolences may be made to www.ilescares.com.
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2010
To submit your Ringgold County obituaries, contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.
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