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Henry Walter Kurtyka

Mar 6, 2021

July 15, 1929 – Feb. 24, 2021

Longtime Towner,

North Dakota resident,

Henry Walter Kurtyka

died Wednesday, Febru-

ary 24, 2021 at the age of

91 years at the Heart of

America Medical Center

in Rugby, North Dakota.

In his last days, his battle

with serious medical is-

sues showed his courage

in facing life’s challenges

with his strong will and

occasional smirk. Despite

these challenges, Henry

came out a hero to us all

and stayed strong to the


Henry was born to Wla-

dyslaw “Walter” and

Frances (Kowalski) Kurty-

ka on July 15, 1929 in

Johnstown Township in

Grand Forks County,

North Dakota. He was

one of six children raised

on the family farm. Hen-

ry received his education

in rural schools in Forest

River, Pisek and Minto.

Following the sale of the

family farm in 1941, he

worked for various farms

in the area. Sometime in

1948 at age 19, he noticed

an ad in the Grand Forks

Herald for farm help

needed in the Towner

area. Upon his move to

Towner, he took his first

job in the area working

with Johnny Miller on his

family ranch. Henry later

went on to become the

Chief of Police from 1953

to 1973. He then was the

head of the City of Town-

er Water Department from

1973 to 1981 and in 1982,

he operated a mainte-

nance blade for the

McHenry County until his

retirement in 2007.

On December 7, 1950,

he was united in marriage

to the love of his life, An-

nie Knutson. Together

they built a good life in

Tower raising their two

sons, Gerald and James.

Annie died on July 10,


Henry was an avid col-

lector of many things. His

favorite pastime was

repairing countless small

engines, such as lawn

mowers, chainsaws, and

more. Not only did he en-

joy fixing up bicycles in

his beloved shop, he also

loved to ride his bicycle.

He was a true handyman,

that could fix anything

from inside the house to

whatever was brought to

his shop for repair. Work-

ing on things with his

hands gave Henry great

joy. He always had time

for long visits with his

many customers that

needed help with repairs

or those that stopped by

to just shoot the breeze.

He was always seen in his

blue overalls or flannel

shirts and always his

brown Jersey gloves. For

Henry, dirty hands were

the sign of a good hard

day’s work. He was a very

proud, independent,

strong-willed, self-made,

hardworking man that

took great pride in all that

he did and had accom-

plished in his life. Duty,

reliability, honor, respect

are all things that Henry

held in high regard and

practiced every day of his

life. In the end, it is said

that it is not the years in

your life, but the life in

your years and Henry

lived his best life.

Henry is survived by

his sons, Gerald (Gloria)

Kurtyka of Rugby and

James Kurtyka of Minot; a

daughter from an early

marriage, Shirley Olafson

of Hesperia, California;

six grandchildren, Stacey

Atkinson of Rugby, Bryan

(Tami) Kurtyka and Jay-

son Kurtyka of Fargo and

Tammy (Jorge) Lopez,

Thomas Olafson and Di-

anne Olafson of Califor-

nia; four great grandchil-

dren; a great-great grand-

daughter; sisters, Florence

Joseph and Eleanor

Spicer, both of Mays

Landing, New Jersey;

numerous nieces,

nephews; other relatives,

friends and a special

friend, Harriet Krenz. He

was preceded in death by

two brothers, Frank and

Johnny Kurtyka; a sister,

Rose Claus and his


Memorials are pre-

ferred to be made to the

Towner Ambulance, Fire

& Rescue

Funeral services will be

held at 11:00 a.m. Satur-

day, March 6 at Zion

Lutheran Church in

Towner with spring buri-

al in Union Cemetery,

Towner. Pastor Linda

Wimmer, officiating.

Casket Bearers: Stacey

Atkinson, Bryan Kurtyka,

Jayson Kurtyka, Nicole

Atkinson, Dustin Atkin-

son, Francis Kurtyka, Bob

Keller, Jeff Keller, Sue

Miller and Mike Bryn

Music by: Vernon Lar-

son and Mary Ann Wahl

Arrangements with the

Anderson Funeral Home

of Towner. Online con-




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