Stephen Kaasa. age 77, passed away Thursday, October 26. A memorial service will be held at 5 pm on Tuesday, November 14th at Bayview Freeborn Funeral Home with visitation 2 hours prior to service. Military Honors will be performed by the Albert Lea American Legion and VFW Honor Guard at 3 PM.
Steve was born in Hampton, Iowa on May 24, 1946 to Darlene and LaVerne Kaasa. He was raised in Hanlontown, Iowa and attended grade school in Hanlontown and high school in Manly, Iowa. Growing up, he enjoyed hauling produce for the family store in Hanlontown. During the Vietnam years, he served in the National Guard, Red Bull division, in Mason City. He loved spending time with family and reminiscing about his younger years, an adventure in itself.
Steve married Annette Louters on September 4, 1984 at the Little Brown Church in Nashua, Iowa and made Albert Lea, MN their home.
Steve was a long haul trucker- owner and operator until retirement in 2011. On two separate occasions he surprised his young nieces by picking them up from school in his 18 wheeler! The girls thought this was amazing, and made them feel like royalty. After retirement, he and Annette spent their entire summers together on Lake Kabetogama.
Steve was always the first to initiate mischief with his nieces and nephews, and the more the mischief, the bigger the smile! He was fearless in new adventures, and a force to be reckoned with. He taught his nieces to confront their fears head-on. He would take them car shopping after giving them “a few lessons” in driving (Kathy learned she will never own a stick-shift). To help cure the fear of tornadoes, he took Beth storm chasing. Steve’s first love was car racing, whether it was as a driver, spectator or just hanging out in the pits, and often took his nieces to the races at Chateau Speedway in Lansing. Another favorite was snowmobiling and it was always a blast! He loved pulling the nieces on the toboggan to see who could stay on the longest, or who he could dump first. No matter what the family did, if Steve was involved, it was always so much fun!
Steve loved horses from a very young age and took his little sister to the sale barn every week for the horse auctions. He also shared this love for the rodeo and horses with his nieces. The majority of Steve’s life was spent in cowboy boots.
Steve loved to sit down with a cup of coffee and share countless stories and adventures. He could strike up a conversation for hours with a perfect stranger. Cafes, coffee and conversation were what Steve adored.
Family vacations up North on Lake Kabetogama were a special time with many treasured memories; the boating, fishing, skiing and tubing stories are numerous. The lake filled him with peace, it was his church, and a place for play and family.
Steve’s nieces remember: saving their nickels all year to play cards at Christmas time, getting quarters from Uncle Steve for the pinball machines at Godfather’s, the massive super soaker fights (his gun was always the biggest) and introducing the family to a summer filled with onion bagels. As kids, we were surprised to learn that he could not eat pork chops without applesauce. He introduced us to homemade lefse, a staple throughout the holidays. Steve was just the best uncle any kid could have.
Steve was always there to help the family out in tight situations or to offer advice or solutions. He was steadfastly there to support his family; he would help his nieces with math, car trouble and getting locked out of the house. No matter the problem, Steve was just a phone call away.
Steve’s survivors include: wife, Annette Louters Kaasa, stepson Greg (Sheila) Fennel and their seven children, sister Becky Langan and her five children, sister Annette (Kirk) Flores and their three children, sisters-in-law Merikay (Dwight) Bonnema, Robbi (Clyde) Bonnema, Jean (Evan) Baker, Wilburta (Steve) Lerum, numerous nieces and nephews with special connections to Kathryn (Derrik) Greeley, Bethany (Alexander) Watson, London Watson, Dakota and Rhett Mueller, Matthew and Mallory Greeley, and very special friends: Paul and Sue Kleinshrodt.
Steve was preceded in death by his parents, Darlene and LaVerne Kaasa, mother and father-in-law, Kathryn and Wilbur Louters and a very special niece, Allison Mueller.
Special thanks to Albert Lea Mayo Clinic Hospice, special friend, Sue Kleinshrodt and Bayview Funeral Home.