She will be remembered as the glue of the family, a special friend, generous, a gracious host, a caregiver, a respected business leader, and quite frankly. . . a superhero. To us, however, she was simply mom. On July 8, 2022, Kathleen G. Putrah passed away peacefully at her home at the age of 80 in Faribault, Minnesota. As with most moments of her life, she was surrounded by family and those who loved her most.
Our mom’s extraordinary life began in Brownton, Minnesota on February 19, 1942. She grew up with our grandparents, James and Olga Vinar, along with her 4 brothers and 2 sisters. She graduated from Brownton High School in 1960. To her last days she loved traveling to Brownton with her sisters to reminisce and support the local businesses.
During her time in Brownton, she met Dick Anderson. They were later married in Mankato, Minnesota. During their 10 years of marriage, two of us were born, Rick and Tim.
It's remarkable how one decision can change a life. For our mom, that was to work for Condux International in Mankato. She would often talk on the phone to a hot-shot colleague named Dale Putrah. The sparks flew one morning when they met face-to-face, and the rest is history. Legend has it, the sparks were ignited into a lasting flame by the sight of a pair of long, beautiful legs that our dad never stopped commenting on. . . and nor did anyone else for that matter.
On December 31, 1973, Kathleen and Dale Putrah were married and their two families became one, as four of us were officially connected: Rick and Tim; and Dale Jr. and Susan. In later years, two more of us were born, as Trevor and Megan joined to make our family complete.
From a professional standpoint, our parents were a team in every sense of the word. In 1973, they took the initial step leading to a successful career in the communications industry which spanned 5 decades, by starting the first manufacturer’s rep firm exclusive to the Bell Telephone System. They later launched Great Lakes Telephone Supply, a distributor of telecommunications products. After selling Great Lakes, with the support of our dad and using her initials as a guide, our mom founded KGP Telecommunications in 1982 as an official Woman-Owned Business.
In the early years, it was not rare for our mom to be the only female in a meeting, at a dinner, or even on a show floor. We never viewed her as a pioneer, but a pioneer she was to many. She excelled because she was great at what she did, overcame any obstacle put in front of her, instilled a set of eternal values in KGP, and cared deeply for the employees. She leaves behind an organization strong and prepared for what’s next, with over 2,500 employees across KGPCo and KGP Services, and now part of a transatlantic partnership with over 12,000 total team members around the world.
When she wasn’t shattering glass ceilings in business, she was caring for others, organizing family gatherings, and seeing the world with our dad and close friends. Her greatest passion was collecting nativity scenes. Once a year her collection and love of Christmas came to life at our home. The impressive collection was amplified by her enthusiasm for travel and flair for shopping. To the grandchildren’s delight, Christmas was always a time to deploy all these special skills.
She was preceded in death by our dad, Dale E. Putrah, and our grandparents, James and Olga Vinar. She is survived by all of us and our families: Rick (and Cindi) Putrah of Faribault, MN and their 4 children and 2 grandchildren; Tim (and Julie) Putrah of Faribault, MN and their 3 children and 3 grandchildren; Trevor (and Caren) Putrah of Faribault, Minnesota and their 2 children; Megan (and Bernie) VonRuden of Lakeville, MN and their 4 children; Dale Jr. (and Linda) of Burnsville, MN and their 2 children and 3 grandchildren; and Susan (and Jon) Aswegan of Apple Valley, MN and their 2 children and 5 grandchildren. She is also survived by her siblings: Duane Vinar, Val Hallgren, James Vinar, Jr. (Julie), Dennis Vinar (Karen), Sharon Latvala (Rich), and Vance Vinar, Sr. (Barb).
While she may be gone, we will see her again. Her spirit lives on in all of us. We believe she was a wonderfully rare person, but admittedly, we are a bit biased. . . she was our mom.
Friends and family are invited to attend a memorial service on July 30th at 3pm at Our Saviors Lutheran Church, 1207 Prairie Avenue Southwest, Faribault, MN. The family kindly requests that any donations be made to the American Diabetes Association (http://www.diabetes.org) in memory of Kathleen.