At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
St. Joseph Indian School
PO Box 300, 1301 N. Main St.
Chamberline, SD 57325
Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Evelyn Kuennen experienced a rich and rewarding life filled with so many of the best things that life has to offer. She was kindhearted and generous beyond measure with a heart that had a love for life that was easy to see. Evelyn’s devotion to her family was unmatched, and there was nothing she savored more than witnessing her family tree blossom to include numerous branches of grandchildren and great-grandchildren who made her so very proud. Life will never be the same without Evelyn here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
It was great to be an American during the 1920s. Jazz music was hot, ballroom dancing was all the rage, and motion pictures came to life with both color and sound. Amidst this exciting time was a time of great excitement in the lives of George William and Anna Belle (Clark) Cantile as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Evelyn Caroline on December 3, 1923, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born in the family home at 2111 Lafayette, NE, she was the second of five children as she was joined in her family by her older brother, Henry, and her younger siblings, Bob, Betty, and Dorothy. Evelyn’s father was a railroad engineer while her mother was a homemaker who also ran a boarding house for men. During WWII, her mother also put her skills as a seamstress to good use sewing parachutes for the war. Evelyn attended Fairmont Elementary and graduated from Creston High School in 1942.
Not to be forgotten during her formative years was Evelyn’s introduction to the young man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was Roy C. Kuennen, and they met while Evelyn was working at the soda fountain at Hoxie Drug Store as a high school student. Smitten, he kept coming to see her until she finally agreed to go out with him. That first date led to more dates, but he soon left to serve as a tail gunner in the United States Army Air Corps during WWII. They corresponded by letter during that time and continued to fall more deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together the sweethearts were married on August 23, 1944. After a honeymoon in Florida, they returned to Grand Rapids to make a home in Evelyn’s childhood home as her parents built a home across the street.
Together they welcomed three children including Pat, Cathy, and Roy into their hearts and home. Although Evelyn wasn’t Catholic, they raised all of their children in the Catholic faith. Together they attended Blessed Sacrament Church for Sunday Mass. Since their home was near the children’s school, the children came home from lunch to find that their mother had their lunch ready and waiting. While her children were growing up, she made three meals a day, every day. Many of their most precious family memories were made at the cottage that Roy’s father had built on L-Lake in 1923. Together their family did plenty of swimming, boating, and fishing. Evelyn always loved the fresh bluegill they caught on the lake, and their cottage is still in the family today as the third generation of family members love spending time there. As a family they also enjoyed summer trips up to the Upper Peninsula as well.
As her family grew, Evelyn continued to treasure being together. She was a fabulous cook whose specialties included roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried chicken, fried fish, steel head, fried blue gill, and walleye. Evelyn was also an excellent baker as she was famous for her pineapple upside down cake, confetti cake, pies, and desserts, and when someone was having a birthday she always made their favorite dessert. Evelyn was the one to host Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter for years, and on Easter every family member always received an Easter basket made with love. She cherished her grandchildren and never missed a birthday, special day, or school event.
Throughout her life Evelyn was one to keep busy. Once her children were a bit older, she began selling Avon to family, friends, and neighbors, meeting many new people along the way. An excellent seamstress, she sewed and mended for the family, and she also enjoyed crocheting hats and scarves. Evelyn was very close to her niece, Roberta, and they did many crafts together including making Christmas trees, ornaments, and some ceramics. She was great at jig saw puzzles, and as she was quite proficient on the computer. For years Evelyn did all the bookkeeping for her husband’s business, and later in life she even had her own Facebook page. She didn’t collect a lot, but she did collect Avon decanters from working with the company for 20 years. Evelyn was an avid Chicago Cubs fan and also watched the Detroit Tigers. She read the newspaper every night and also watched the nightly news as well as Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.
Life was forever changed for Evelyn when her husband died suddenly on December 4, 1996. She loved him dearly and the two were inseparable so this was a difficult blow for her. Life did continue for Evelyn, and it was largely due to the comfort and strength she received from her family. She and Roberta did a lot of traveling together including to Hawaii, Canada, and on a train ride out West. Evelyn continued driving until about a year ago, which was also when she was diagnosed with a lung tumor. She decided to just let nature take its course, and over time her health declined. Her granddaughter, Jennifer, flew in from Seattle three weeks ago to care for her in her home, which is where she drew her last breath surrounded by the love of her family.
Funny, caring, and loving, Evelyn Kuennen was a blessing to everyone she met. She always put her family first and was an amazing role model to all who were near. Deeply loved, Evelyn will be forever missed.
Evelyn C. Kuennen, aged 93 of Grand Rapids, passed away at her home, surrounded by her loving family on Friday, October 27, 2017. Born Dec. 3, 1923, the daughter of the late, George and Anna Belle Cantile, she was preceded in death by her husband, Roy Kuennen. She is survived by her children, Patricia (Frederick) Merritt, Cathy Kuennen, Roy W. (Kimberly) Kuennen; her niece, Roberta Taylor; grandchildren, Melissa (Michael) Bockheim, Jennifer Merritt, Jason (Ashley) Kuennen, Matthew (Kaleigh) Kuennen, Tim (Jasmine) Kuennen; 13 great grandchildren with another on the way; her cousin, Marie Johnson; her sister-in-law, Lois Cantile; many nieces, nephews and friends. Evelyn was a loving and dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, and a friend to all who knew her. She will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered. The service to celebrate Evelyn’s life will be held on Wednesday morning, November 1, 2017 at 10:30 am at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Burial in Rosedale Memorial Park Cemetery. Relatives and friends may meet her family at the funeral home on Wednesday Nov.. 1, from 9:30 AM until the service begins at 10:30 am. Contributions in her memory may be made to St. Joseph Indian School or St. Labre Indian School. To read more about Evelyn’s life, to sign her guest book and to leave your own memory of her, visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com