University of Minnesota
Spring break near the Acropolis in Athens, Greece
If there is one word to describe Kurt’s most enduring attribute, it would be the tenacity he exhibited in his short 22 years of life. Kurt’s can do spirit appeared in full force when he decided he wanted to do something, like earn a college degree. As the oldest boy in a family of nine children he knew there would be no help financially. His spare time was seriously vested in jobs to pay for college tuition since middle school.
Kurt was an athlete. He excelled at skiing on water or snow. His family moved from Southern California to Minnesota when he was twelve. His tenacity ramped up to venture onto the ice rink, although he had never skated on ice before. He soon kept pace with his teammates even scoring a “hat trick” during one momentous game.
Kurt attended the University of Minnesota. He was chosen to study in Erlangen German, in German speaking classes. So many firsts: first passport, first airplane flight, first foreign country. His family was intensely proud. All eleven of them saw him off at the airport. They never saw him alive again.
In March, 1982 Kurt was found maliciously murdered, bludgeoned and stabbed to death in his sleeping bag in Greece. He had taken a side trip during spring break to Greece on his way to explore Egypt.
His family was not notified for days. His parents were told by an embassy representative that it was their responsibility to pay for transporting his body, in cash. Only cash was acceptable.
There was no insurance to bring his body home. The bleak outlook of having Kurt’s body interred in Greece weighed heavily on his loved ones. The office of Senator Rudy Boschwitz started a fund to raise $3,000 to bring Kurt’s body home. Kurt’s body did return to his family. The family donated any extra money from the fund to the University of Minnesota for study abroad scholarships in Kurt’s honor.
The study abroad office of the University of Minnesota expressed sincere regret over Kurt’s death. The university contributed $1,000 to the fund to bring Kurt home. They never spoke of any responsibility, or duty to inform or duty of care to insure Kurt. Students are sent abroad even now under-insured. Families are left to their own resources to bring their child home. It’s much more expensive now, tens of thousands instead of thousands.
Kurt’s family struggles to this day with how he died, hurting, bleeding to death alone far away. No one caught the murderers.
“We will never know who the murderers were, nor will we ever find out. The motive was most certainly NOT robbery. Kurt’s passport, identity papers and cash were still with him when his body was found. I will never have closure. Time may mitigate the pain to a degree. I will always wonder about Kurt’s future if he would have survived study abroad and fulfilled his dream in international law. He was, and could have been, an outstanding credit to society.” said Kurt’s mother, Carolyn.
Kurt’s belongings were returned from his German dorm room. There was a journal with poems he had written. One was lighthearted celebrating the elixir of euphoria Kurt felt as a young man discovering love. Another is prescient, as if he could predict his life would soon end.
I fell in love last night
It crept up silently, from behind
Until it had me surrounded
Impossible was escape
Love’s grasp was felt
Her smile mirrored mine
The glances evolved into stares
Stares of such irrepressible intensity
It was easy to see
The paths are many that trace the hill
You follow them against your will
Each traveler attempts to cover his tracks
Futile attempts on these downtrodden paths
Begin your journey, summit in sight
But you fall before you reach your goal
Kiss the grass of home before you leave
The bitter dust of the path fills you as you die
Buried in the shallow common grave of the wayside