ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Man known for skating in costumes between periods at UND hockey games passes away

UND hockey lost a proud supporter and colorful character this week, as the man who skated on the ice in Kermit the Frog and Hamm's beer bear costumes between periods at games in the late 1970s and early 1980s died Saturday.

Bumper sticker featuring Kermit the Frog
Bumper sticker featuring Kermit the Frog. Submitted Photo.

UND hockey lost a proud supporter and colorful character this week, as the man who skated on the ice in Kermit the Frog and Hamm's beer bear costumes between periods at games in the late 1970s and early 1980s died Saturday.

Lee "Catfish" Kohl, 64, died at his home in East Grand Forks. The Grand Forks native and Central High School graduate was well-known for taking to the ice at the old Ralph Engelstad Arena in between periods to entertain the crowd. He wore the Kermit the Frog costume from 1979 to 1983, and wore the Hamm's bear costume from 1983 to 1984.

"I'd watch him skate around on the ice in between periods," said Jennifer Kohl-Fichtner, his daughter. "As I got older, I really learned to love the game."

Kohl's love of hockey was something he shared with his family, and he made a point of making it to the games, Kohl-Fichtner said. But, in February 1994, Kohl uncharacteristically scheduled a conflicting event for another love of his, when he married Diane Berry.

Kohl-Fichtner said the timing of the wedding put her in a tough spot.

ADVERTISEMENT

"It was during a Sioux-Gophers game," she said. "I wasn't about to miss a Sioux-Gophers game, so I wore my dress to the game at the old arena and headed straight to the dance afterword."

Kohl was known as a man that enjoyed laughing and joking, and his daughter said he loved to call his grandchildren and leave joking messages on the answering machine.

"He had just left one for the kids, they had just gone fishing," Kohl-Fichtner said. "He asked them if they had caught their limit, and if they went over, the game warden was going to come get them."

He also had a serious side, and would show that through his support of nonprofit groups like the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

"He would always dress up in a nice suit when he would go to give them money," Kohl-Fichtner said. "He liked to laugh and joke, but he had that other side to him, too."

Kohl is survived by his sister, Jackie Pilak, daughters, Kohl-Fichtner and Lisa Coughlan, and three grandchildren.

Call Jeffries at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1105; or send email to rjeffries@gfherald.com .

Robb Jeffries (he/him) is the Night Editor for InForum.com and The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Robb can be reached at rjeffries@forumcomm.com.
What To Read Next
Featuring boys and girls hockey results, area men's and women's basketball scores, prep wrestling results, and much more!
Featuring prep basketball results from across the region, boys and girls hockey scores, men's and women's tennis results, and much more!
Featuring area prep sports cancellations and postponements, local boys and girls basketball results, N.D. girls wrestling second edition coaches' poll and much more!
Featuring the prep honor roll, area college basketball conference standings, N.D. Class A and B prep basketball polls, and much more!