Devils Lake community activist Kurtz dies at 79
Devils Lake community activist and former City Commissioner Balzer Kurtz has died. He was 79. Joe Belford, a Ramsey County commissioner who served with Kurtz on the City Commission, recalled a restless and forceful man. "He was very colorful," Be...
Devils Lake community activist and former City Commissioner Balzer Kurtz has died. He was 79.
Joe Belford, a Ramsey County commissioner who served with Kurtz on the City Commission, recalled a restless and forceful man. "He was very colorful," Belford said. "When he had a mission, he had a mission."
In recent years, Kurtz's mission was to create a memorial to North Dakota National Guardsmen in the city, the centerpiece of which includes a captured Japanese cannon and statues of soldiers.
This was controversial because he wanted the memorial at Roosevelt Park, which some said was inappropriate because the war theme conflicted with the peaceful statues of geese that already were there.
Kurtz got his way, but it only reinforced his tenacious reputation.
"People say I'm controversial," he said in 2003. "But, I say I'm only controversial if you don't agree with me."
Kurtz himself had served in Korea as a member of the Guard's 164th Infantry Regiment, the same unit that earlier captured the cannon during the Pacific campaign.
Altogether, Kurtz served 17 years on the City Commission, 12 of those years with Belford from 1972 to 1984. His portfolios included water treatment and sewers and the cemetery.
Belford said Kurtz paid particular attention to the cemetery, making sure it was in tip-top shape. "It was his pride and joy."
Being a painter, Kurtz was very detail oriented, Belford said.
Kurtz also has served as fire commissioner. He was active with Knights of Columbus and the Veterans of Foreign Wars and was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Devils Lake.
He died Tuesday and is survived by his wife, Marian, six children and eight siblings.
The funeral is at 3 this afternoon in St. Joseph's.
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