Conrad Stanley Kufeld, 83, returned home to our heavenly Father on Dec. 4 after a brief illness. But if you were family or friend to Dad, you surely knew him as Dugan.
Dad was born Feb. 20, 1935 in Helena to Stanley and Jane (Cooper) Kufeld. His parents were very young when he was born, and both had to work, so he spent a great deal of time under the care of his grandmother Annie (Larson) Kufeld. Annie was 100% Swedish, under five feet tall, but she was a spitfire and never missed anything Dad did throughout his school years even though she had to walk everywhere in Helena as his family had no automobile. Later, Dad took the example Annie set for him and showered the same love and affection on his grandchildren.
Growing up, Dad learned to hunt and fish from his father and excelled at both, but most of all he just enjoyed spending time outdoors and being with his family and friends on these trips. Dad graduated from Helena High School in 1953 and Carroll College in 1957.
A few years later Dad met Kae Gingry dancing at the Silver Spur in Helena. At the time, neither would have probably predicted how long that one dance would last, but after getting married in 1961, it continued for another 57 years. Their marriage was truly a partnership and like true dance partners they both took turns leading and following at different points but never let go and always kept pace when the rhythm sped up and then slowed down over their shared life.
1961 was a big year for Dad as he also started working for the Internal Revenue Service and continued there for the next 32 years until he retired as a group manager. As a manager he believed the most important part of his job was as a counselor. And like his own father before him, many people outside work sought counsel from Dad because he had mastered the quality of ‘talk less, listen more.’
In 1963, Mom and Dad had their first of three sons, Scott. Two years later Daniel was born and finally in 1969 after the family settled in Billings came Burke. While growing up, Mom and Dad followed the kids around the state and country for swim meets, football and baseball games, and wrestling matches. Many special times were spent camping with kids, dogs, friends, and whatever else could be fit in the camper. Dad was so proud of his sons who all graduated from college with advanced degrees or professional designations.
When asked what was one of happiest times of his life was, Dad said, "It started in 1990." This happened to be when the first of his five grandchildren were born. Mom and Dad were "young and cool" grandparents who doted on their grandchildren near and far and shared many adventures with them including first trips to see the ocean in Oregon, Disneyworld, and regular trips to Red Lodge and Chico Hot Springs. Dad absolutely beamed when he spoke of his grandchildren’s accomplishments as students, athletes, and people. Grandpa Dugan had the gift of having something special and unique in his relationship with each of his grandkids that only they shared.
In retirement, besides following his grandkids in volleyball, basketball, and softball, Dad stayed active and had a regular group of buddies who started at Yellowstone Athletic Club and then moved over to Granite Fitness. His yard and garden were points of pride for Dad and it showed. He also loved his regular trips over to Missoula for Griz football games with his good friend Rick. Dad’s positive outlook and gratefulness for life were qualities admired by his friends and was surely something he learned from his mother. If his grandkids weren’t playing, you could also find Dad in the stands at local high school and college games, sometimes with friends, and sometimes just by himself. Dad was also a great reader. Every day would start reading the entire newspaper from front to back. In the afternoons, he would read one of the dozens of magazines they had subscriptions for. And each night he would read his favorite mystery authors before turning out the light.
Dad is survived by his wife Kae; sons, Scott and his wife Beatriz of Houston, Texas, Daniel of San Francisco, California and Burke and his wife Keri of Billings; five grandchildren, Kylie Reitz and her husband Joel, Taylor Olsen and her husband Jonathon, Bailey, Chloe, and Eynar; one great-grandchild Emersyn; his cousin Dusty Duensing and his wife Pam; and Molly the dog. He was preceded in death by his parents, Stanley and Jane Kufeld; his mother and father-in-law Lucille and Don Richards; his aunt Nancy Duensing and her husband Arnold; his cousin Dave Duensing; and many dogs that he also loved.
Dad also wanted to thank the doctors, nurses, aides, and housekeepers at St. Vincent Healthcare who cared for him like family.
Memorial donations may be made to the Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter in Billings. In accordance with Dad’s wishes there will not be a memorial service, but instead he wanted a backyard barbecue for all his family and friends to be held this summer in celebration of the life he lived which will be scheduled later. However, to keep Dad’s memory alive remember when you’re at the next exciting ball game, finish a good book, or take that first bite of anything sweet (candy, cookies, cakes, pie, ice cream…he loved them all), think of Dad knowing that, ‘Dugan would have loved this.’
Condolences may be shared with the Kufeld family at smithfuneralchapels.com.