Kurt Egon Retzler

October 3, 2021


Kurt Egon Retzler, 94, of Wayzata, MN, passed away on October 3rd, 2021. Preceded in death by his loving parents Joseph J. and Melinda Retzler, brother Ortwin, and first wife Rali Retzler.

During WWII, at the age of 17, Kurt and seven friends had to flee Betschkerek, Yugoslavia, in order to avoid Nazi conscription and incoming communist troops. They escaped via foot, bicycle, and by talking the captain of a barge (transporting noodles) into letting them stow away. His knowledge of five languages led the group to safe hiding quarters in various countries. 

Kurt and his family traumatically lost his beloved grandfather, Michael, during WWII. The rest of his immediate family survived and immigrated as refugees to Jackson, MI, in the 1950s. Having played piano since he was four, he performed in a piano bar in MI until he was drafted into the US Army during the Korean War. Via the GI bill he attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and graduated with distinction, with a BA in business administration and MBA. His split-second math ability often amazed those frantically tapping their calculators.

He started as a CPA in Detroit in 1956. Then he advanced to his 35-year career at Carlson Companies, Minneapolis, MN, beginning as assistant controller. He rose to VP/controller in 1965, then to VP of corporate acquisitions and development in 1974. He was on the board of directors for TGIF, Inc.; Carlson Travel Network; Radisson Hotel Corporation, Carlson Properties, Inc., and Country Kitchen International, Inc. 

Kurt loved to travel and was a big European soccer and Minnesota Vikings fan. He attended three Olympic games with his family and supported the US team. A life-long athlete, he passed the tennis pro test at age 70 and played until he was 90. Playing piano was his refuge during his youth, during the war, and all the way till late September 2021. Although classically trained in piano, he also played accordion and drums. But it was his driving boogie woogie on the piano that set a toes a-tapping.

He was a global citizen; a man who promoted travel to other cultures and being on top of international news. He supported the arts, education, and medical research. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend, he will be dearly missed. He taught us that all people worldwide just want to be with and love their families the best way that they can. And that he did.

Survived by wife, A. Suzanne Retzler; daughter, Jo Elaine Retzler; son, K. Steven Retzler; grandson, Leigh (Linda); and sister Ortrun (Carl) Franklin. He was a member of Wayzata Community Church.

A private service was held October 7, 2021, at Lakewood Cemetery (Chapel) in Minneapolis, MN; interment there as well. Memorials to Mayo Clinic Foundation. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Kurt Egon Retzler, please visit our floral store.


October 7, 2021

2:09 PM
David Lee Funeral Home & Cremation Services
1220 Wayzata Blvd East,
Wayzata, MN 55391

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