His Life

Thomas Richard Kapsner: 1950 - 2021

Thomas Richard Kapsner kissed the world goodbye June 9, 2021. And surely, in spirit, gave us one last amazing bear hug on the way out too. 

Thomas (Tom, TK) was born on October 20, 1950 to Marcella (Puerringer) and Leander Kapsner at the St. Cloud Hospital. He and his three siblings grew up in St. Joseph, Minn., in a devoutly Catholic family. Tom took his service to church and family seriously but he also personified the bravado of the counterculture era. Alter boy and paperboy. Trumpet player in the polka band. Long haired hippie blasting Moondance in a vintage car radio barreling down a rural gravel road. He carried a combination of regard for family and anti-establishmentarianism into his life, graduating from St. Cloud Cathedral in 1968 and St. John’s University in 1972 with a degree in political science. He met Mary Braun in high school and the two married in an idyllic ceremony in the chapel on Lake Sagatagan. Initially, Tom and Mary lived on a rustic farmstead in Richmond, Minn., where they welcomed their first child Jacob in 1974. They moved to Duluth, Minn. and completed the family with the birth of daughter McKenzie in 1979. For 15 years, they ran a group home for adults with disabilities and the stories from that time are equal parts touching, hilarious and unsuitable for print. Tom lived and worked in northern Minnesota over the next 45+ years. He served and supported many organizations that intersected with his family, work and community life, and was always ready to lend people a hand. 

Tom was a natural salesman, a talent he parlayed into a successful career. He worked the last 20 years of his life at RMS in Virginia, Minn., where he was the top salesperson company-wide for numerous years and, more importantly, made many “Ranger” friendships. As was said at his 2020 retirement party: Tom could sell "ice at the North Pole," because he knew everyone at the mines—from CEO to janitor—and treated them the same. He valued people, believed a good deal benefited everyone, and could tell you long colorful stories about it. He was salt of the earth, sometimes salty, often willing to call B.S., and often available to B.S. 

He loved being outside and active, or simply just outside. An adept athlete who relished the chance to play, he cheered for many sports teams—from the Purple People Eaters to his children and grandchildren's soccer, hockey, basketball, golf, volleyball, tennis, track and baseball teams, some of which he coached. Like the 1980s "Superior Sprouts" Little League team, named after and sponsored by the family alfalfa sprout business. 

One constant that guided Tom’s heart and hand throughout life was a deep love and dedication to his family. He was generous with his time and his money, and loved to devote both to his grandkids—from high stakes Easter egg hunts to weekends away with Papa. Fact was, Tom could always be counted on to be there and to bring the fun. His annual golf trip to Vegas with Zimmer, Greg and friends was no exception. 

He faced some serious life challenges, as humans do, including a June 2020 cancer diagnosis. A year of intensive treatment, surgery, therapy and recovery appeared to be working. Then Tom died unexpectedly at home on June 9, 2021. 

Tom is survived by former wife Mary Braun and children Jake (Carla) and McKenzie (Francois) Kapsner; grandchildren Sophia, Anna, Gabe, William, Beau; siblings Sandra, Greg, Rose Mary; and many extended family and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and some dear friends. 

He is incredibly missed and will be lovingly remembered by the many people he touched in life. The family extends deep thanks to everyone who cared for and supported him during the past year, especially daughter McKenzie. Thank you for celebrating and praying for this dear man—and for sharing your stories about him with us.
A Celebration of Life will be held 1-4:30pm Sunday, Sept. 19 at the Park Point Beach House in Duluth, Minn. Masks preferred indoors. Please RSVP. Your stories of Tom are welcomed and appreciated. 
Memorials may be made to Amberwing Center for Youth & Family Wellbeing or a charity of your choice.