John's Story

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John Richard Kuzma, Ph.D., 71, of Mankato and formerly from Youngstown, OH, lived an enviable life. He died Wednesday, August 16, 2017 in his home.
Visitation will be held from 5-8pm, Monday, August 21, 2017 at Northview - North Mankato Mortuary. Funeral Mass will be 10:30am, Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church with visitation one hour prior. Please share a memory of John with his family and view his video tribute when it becomes available online at www.mankatomortuary.com.
John was born August 24, 1945 in Youngstown, OH to two immigrants, John and Susan (Sepelak) Kuzma. His father was a farmer by birth and cultivated an impressive family garden. John was conscripted to help his father. Unfortunately, this led to a lifelong distaste of certain fruits (grapes) and vegetables (broccoli). He described his mother as a "matriarch"a trait he later sought out in a spouse. John was the first member of his family to go to college. He paid for his tuition by spending his summers working in steel mills, delivering groceries, and working in hospital cafeterias. In 1968, after switching majors several times, he earned a B.S. degree in Accounting from Youngstown State University. On February 26, 1969, he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and served as an accountant before being honorably discharged on February 25, 1975. After numerous successful and semi-successful business ventures, John later received his M.B.A. degree in Marketing from Youngstown State University in 1978 and a Ph.D. in Marketing from Kent State University in 1990.
In 1977, John met Ann Tyger, a classmate at Youngstown State University. Ann, unfortunately for her but fortunately for her children and grandchildren, lost a bet that she and John shared the same birthday. John was united in marriage to Ann on September 29, 1979. John began his teaching career as a marketing professor at John Carroll University. He and Ann were offered teaching positions at Mankato State University in 1989 and relocated to Mankato. He was a professor of Marketing and International Business and was the director of the Center for Sales Excellence.
John enjoyed golfing, playing poker with friends, and watching horse races at Canterbury Park. He was a huge Cleveland Indians fan and always hoped they'd win the World Series. If they win in 2017, Cleveland fans should attribute the miracle to John's heavenly intercession.
Above all, John loved spending time with his family. He spent countless hours (unsuccessfully) trying to improve his son's baseball swing. He indulged (without understanding) his son's love of comic books. To his daughter, Rachel, he showed unending patience and true love. She was (he insisted, despite his son's protestations) the smartest and most creative member of the family. His spirit, his personality, and his vigor survive in her. In the last years of his life, his greatest treasure was his granddaughter, Madeleine. In his eyes she could (and will never) do no wrong. He teased her by calling her "blondie," to which she responded "no grandpa, I'm Madeleine." "Grandpa is," she concluded, "funny."
He is survived by his wife, Dr. Ann Kuzma of Mankato; son, Dr. Andrew Kuzma of Milwaukee, WI; daughter, (the future Dr.) Rachel Kuzma of St. Louis, MO; granddaughter, Madeleine of Milwaukee; brother, David (Sue) Kuzma of Youngstown, OH; brothers-in-law, James (Mary Anne) Tyger of East Palestine, OH, William (Wendy) Tyger of East Palestine, OH, and David Hilliard of Youngstown, OH.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and sister, Suzanne Hilliard. His wife, son, daughter, and granddaughter will miss him forever.
Published on August 20, 2017
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