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Doris Kreitlow


June 15, 2017

A long lived, good life is over.  Doris Kreitlow died June 11 at age 97.

Doris was born to English immigrants in Minneapolis but spent part of her early childhood in England...cared for by her granny while her mother toured with the opera. She learned to speak with a strong Yorkshire accent!  Once back in the U.S., she made many trips up the north shore of Lake Superior with her dad, an avid stream fisherman.

She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in home economics.  She was a great cook...but also an excellent writer and got her Master's degree years later from the University of Wisconsin in journalism.

She and her betrothed, Burt Kreitlow, wrote to each other prolifically during WWII, and those letters are the basis of a musical play entitled, "Yours, Thrognog," that is being created right now! Too bad she'll never get a chance to see it!  She married Burt in 1944 and had two daughters, Karen and Candace.  

A few interesting things about Doris' life:

When her father died in the early 1950s, she inherited $1,000.  Her love of the north shore caused an "at the time, frivolous" decision to buy 100 feet of shoreline near Grand Marais, Minn. Years of family vacations in a small cabin followed. The Kreitlows built a retirement home there over 30 years ago. At a point where she could no longer care for herself, she hired a 24/7 caregiver so she could spend her last days in that special place.

The view out of the cabin window sees the reef that is close to Cut Face Creek.  Many people call it "Snake Island" or "Crocodile Reef." Doris named it the Sea Serpent, and on moonlit nights, she told her children it came alive and thrashed along the shore. She would play The Firebird Suite on the record player to soothe (NOT!) everyone to sleep on those nights...or at least encourage fanciful imaginings.

Burt was a fisherman. The lakes on the Gunflint Trail beckoned.    Doris would take along a book to read.  Then, she learned to fish, and she LIKED IT!! 

Doris was a staunch Democrat and not afraid to speak up. On Sunday drives in the country, should one see or smell a nearby skunk the phrase always heard was, "I smell a Republican!"  She hosted events for Democratic candidates, both local and national.  Muriel Humphrey (wife of presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey) was the guest at one particular coffee party.

Doris was a very active part of each community she lived in. She was extremely interested in education and volunteering for helpful causes. She was instrumental in getting Meals on Wheels started in Mazomanie, Wis., and even more committed to getting recycling started in Grand Marais. She bugged DOT ad infinitum about the dangerous narrow shoulders along Highway 61 and followed that project to completion!  After Burt's death, Doris lived for a few years in assisted living in Bandon, Ore. where she continued in her social/community awareness, writing an editorial for a community pool and listening and cheering on Oregon Congressman, Peter DeFazio.

With her husband/professional and life partner, Burton W Kreitlow, Doris, began a study of positive retirement in 1976, and after retiring, authored Creative Planning for the Second Half of Life.  Ironically, at 97, her second half was well planned and carried out!

Doris' final three years were spent in her home on the shore of Lake Superior with her super, incredible, 24/7 caregiver, Scott DeHart. Total devotion, care, and love to an increasingly failing body and mind gave Doris the "end of life" that we all desire. She wasn't "sick"...she just wore out. She died peacefully without pain or distress.  Lucky lady.

Doris is survived by her daughters: Karen Neal (Pat) of Grand Marais and Candace Kreitlow (Pete Bauer) of Bandon, Ore. She was particularly proud of her three granddaughters and their divergent paths:  Jessica Neal, bar/restaurant owner; Holly Hafermann, (aka Skylar Grey) Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter; and Tiffany Fischman, pediatrician, and mother of great grandchildren, Naomi Ayla and Ilan August.


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