Kathy Keenan died on August 24, 2019, after living with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) since February 2018. Kathryn Alice Curtis was born to Melvin and Elizabeth (Elmer) Curtis in Albert Lea, Minnesota, on October 11, 1948, while her family lived in Wells, Minnesota. She attended grade school in Wells before moving to Lake Crystal, Minnesota, where she attended Lake Crystal High School, graduating in 1966. After attending Mankato State College for a short time, she moved to Minneapolis where she began working as a nurse's aide in a nursing home. She met her husband Tony Keenan at the nursing home, and they married on April 19, 1969. Their son Jesse was born in 1974 while they lived in Reno, Nevada.
Because she was born with a congenital eye disease, Kathy had poor vision her entire life and became totally blind at the age of 52. Despite her eye problems, Kathy lived a typical childhood, attending grade school, high school, and college, playing a pivotal role in raising her son, working on and off during her adult life, and contributing to her community. She and Tony lived in Columbia Heights for 23 years, where she became active in the Jaycee Women and Women of Today, serving two different terms as president and in other board positions. She also served as president of the board for the local emergency food shelf (Southern Anoka Community Assistance). She returned to college after raising her son and graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Human Ecology in 1995, with a BS in Family Social Science as a candidate for distinction. After they moved to Spring Lake Park in 1999, Kathy served on their homeowners’ association board for many years.
Unfortunately, a liver disease discovered while at the U of M kept her from pursuing her goal of becoming a counselor. She eventually had a liver transplant at the University of Minnesota Hospital in May of 2001, a liver that served her well until the end of her life. She was always grateful to the donor family for the organ donation of their loved one who died in an accident.
Kathy bravely faced the task of living with blindness and ALS during the final years of her life, comforted by her faith in God. Her membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which she joined in 1979, nourished her spirit. She faithfully served the Church in whatever roles she was called to, and she continued attending in a wheel chair until she could no longer handle the trip and the church service. Because of her faith in God and eternal life, she frequently told her many visitors that she was looking forward to dying. Having learned to crochet a few years back, she kept crocheting towel toppers and hanger covers and knitting loom hats until she could no longer do these due to the progression of ALS.
Over her lifetime, her many friendships were a source of joy for her, including in the Jaycee Women and Women of Today, her church sisters, her YMCA crochet & knitting group, and several of her high school classmates who kept in touch. Kathy was always listening to books provided by the Minnesota Braille and Talking Book Library in Faribault and the LDS Library for the Blind. She also had four guide dogs from 1987 to 2015, loyal companions that enabled independent travel and provided a special kind of love.
Kathy was preceded in death by her dad Melvin, mother Elizabeth, brothers Darrell and Brian, and dogs Hazy, Harmony, Salomé, and Liesl. She is survived by her husband Tony, son Jesse of Memphis, grandson Dakota (Nikki) and their son Finnley of Southaven, MS, brother Larry (Norma) Raiha of Woodhaven, MI, sisters Gloria Tollefson of Marine on St. Croix, MN, and Thais Stumpf of Englewood, FL, and many in-laws, friends, nieces, and nephews.
A private family viewing and cremation have been planned. There will be a public memorial service September 7, 2019, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 100 Silver Lake Road NW, New Brighton, MN. Service at 11:00 am with family visitation from 10:00 to 10:40. Please no flowers. For those who want to give a gift in Kathy’s memory, the family suggests the LDS Church Humanitarian Aid Fund (ldsphilanthropies.org), ALS Association of MN/ND/SD (St. Paul), Guide Dogs for the Blind (San Rafael, CA), Open Arms of MN (Mpls), or Fairview Homecare and Hospice (Mpls).
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