Kenneth Adolf Kurze
July 06, 1936 – February 24, 2021
Kenneth Adolf Kurze, of Middletown, Rhode Island, passed away on Wednesday, February 24, 2021.
Kenneth was born on July 6, 1936 in Providence, RI to Adolf O. Kurze and Louise A. Suter, of Cranston, RI.
Kenneth was married 59 years to the late Ingrid S. Kurze and is survived by his four children and three grandchildren: daughter Barbara Kurze of Dorchester, MA; son Thomas of Cranston, RI with granddaughter Gemmia Lompa Kurze of Boca Raton, FL; son Peter Kurze of Cranston, RI; and son Derek Kurze with wife Kellie Walton and granddaughters Natalie and Eliza Walton Kurze of Mendon, MA.
Kenneth is a graduate of Cranston High School (1954), Brown University (1958), and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (1959). In 1959, he fulfilled his childhood dream to become a Foreign Service Officer when he joined the US Department of State.
Kenneth met Ingrid Sonja Fischer in 1957 on the Zugspitze during his 1956-1957 Wayne State University Junior Year Abroad program in Munich, Germany. They married in Cranston, RI on March 26, 1960 and together enjoyed 30 years in the service of the United States in Washington, DC, New Delhi and Bombay (Mumbai), India, Kathmandu, Nepal, Rabat, Morocco, Strasbourg, France, Newport, RI, Bridgetown, Barbados, and Vienna, Austria. They raised their four children on four continents. Traveling to and from assignments and on home leaves in Cranston, RI and Selb, Germany involved 29-hour flights, the penultimate Atlantic crossing of the USS United States, cruises through the Suez Canal or around the Cape of Good Hope, and navigating the lagoons of Venice in a gondola laden with 29 pieces of luggage.
Kenneth was fluent in German, French and Hindi. In 1982, he completed the US Naval War College Senior Course in Newport, RI. He received the US Department of State’s Individual Meritorious Honor Award for his handling of political affairs at the US Consulate in Bombay during the 1971-72 Bangladesh War crisis, and the Individual Superior Honor Award for his actions on Grenada to assess the political situation and to ensure the safety of Americans on the eve of the 1983 US invasion/intervention.
Kenneth promoted US interests and shared his American values both as a diplomat and as a friend, and developed many lifelong friendships at each posting, which he and Ingrid lovingly maintained through correspondence, occasional visits and card play. Highlights of the years abroad include shaking hands with Indira Gandhi and Helmut Schmidt, and hosting visiting American dignitaries like musical ambassador Lionel Hampton and civil rights icon Correta Scott King. Kenneth demonstrated diplomatic tact and restraint by allowing distraught French fans to hold an impromptu memorial on the first anniversary of Elvis’ death in the US Consulate in Strasbourg as this simply had to occur on American ‘soil.’
In 1989, Ken and Ingrid retired to Middletown, Rhode Island, which became their permanent home base. Ken enjoyed time at Sachuest Beach, and many family and friend reunions with iced tea, corn on the cob, and ‘lobstah’. They continued to travel abroad extensively, visited missed continents and crossed the International Date Line. They maintained their old friendships and
gained many new ones, at bridge and poker tables, through the Edward King House Senior Center, the Newport Council for International Visitors, the Naval War College, the Rhode Island Philatelic Society and North Kingstown Stamp Club. Ken served on the board of the Japan-America Society and Black Ships Festival, Newport CIV, and assisted the Middletown Personnel Board and Board of Elections. In 1992-93, he and Ingrid spent a semester abroad in Sweden for Johnson & Wales University/IHM Business School where he added “Professor” to his titles. In 1995, Ken was inducted into the Cranston Hall of Fame. He was an accomplished pianist, an occasional painter, and an avid philatelist.
A funeral service will be held at Memorial Funeral Home in Newport on Saturday, March 6, followed by burial at Newport Memorial Park in Middletown. Attendance is regrettably restricted due to the pandemic to family, close relatives and friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Norman Bird Sanctuary, 583 Third Beach Rd, Middletown RI 02842, or the Edward King House Senior Center, 35 King St, Newport RI 02840.
Source: Memorial Funeral Home