A memorial service celebrating the life of Charles Robert Kanten will be held at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, August 2, 2014, in the Chapel of the Villa St. Vincent in Crookston, MN

Charles Robert “Chuck” Kanten, age 87, of Crookston, MN, and a former longtime Milan, MN farmer, died peacefully at the Villa St. Vincent in Crookston on Monday evening, July 21, 2014, comforted that his family was at his side.

Chuck was born at Montevideo, MN on July 18, 1927, one of seven children of the union of Ole and Ellen (Aamodt) Kanten. He grew up on the family’s farm in Big Bend Township of Chippewa County, near Milan; and was baptized and confirmed at the Big Bend Lutheran Church. After attending a nearby country school he went on to graduate from Milan High School in 1945. Chuck then began working on the farm with his father. He enlisted in the National Guard in November, 1947, and was called to active duty with the US Army on January 16, 1951. Chuck served stateside at Camp Rucker, AL as an Infantry Tank Leader, and received his honorable discharge with the rank of MSgt on October 27, 1952. Upon his return he was re-activated into the Guard and retired after twenty years of service. On December 27, 1952 Chuck was united in marriage to Anne Ione Knutson at the Eagle Grove Lutheran Church in Eagle Grove, IA. Chuck and Anne lived and farmed in Big Bend Township and together raised 3 children: Kent, Erik, and Rebecca. They were devoted members of Kviteseid Lutheran Church, where Chuck served as Sunday school superintendent for many years, and gave of his time and talents to the Board of Deacons.  He was also a board member of the Madison Lutheran Home.  In 1975 he and Anne traveled as Lay Mission Observers for the American Lutheran Church to Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Cameroun, the Central African Empire, and Libya, learning to connect mission with land and hunger issues and sharing that knowledge with district ALC congregations.  While overseeing a very successful farming operation growing sugar beets and small grains, Chuck served as a director of the Southern Minnesota Sugar Beet Coop, and was a director for the Milan Farmers’ Coop Elevator. Additionally he held membership in the Countryside Council Task Force at Marshall, MN. He became very active in the American Agriculture Movement (AAM), and in 1978 spent several months in Washington, DC focusing his efforts on agricultural policy in general, and the cause of Minnesota farmers in particular. In 1979 he and his son, Kent, drove a tractor from their farm to Washington D.C. in solidarity with others seeking to have their voices heard. He and Anne spent many winter months in Washington working on domestic sugar legislation, and lobbying congress for fair agricultural policy over the next years.  He was also voted Land Conservation Farmer of the Year for his work in furthering that endeavor, and added his counsel to the Bread for the World program.

In 1983 the couple relocated to St. Paul, MN as Anne became Minnesota’s Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture during Governor Rudy Perpich’s administration. At this same time Chuck served as Director of Rural Ministries for the American Lutheran Church with offices in Minneapolis.  Chuck continued to be extremely active in the work of the Church and its relationship to farming by speaking at churches across the US, and conducting workshops at Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, IA and Augsburg College in Minneapolis entitled, “A Farmer Looks at World Hunger.” He also worked with the production team that made the ALC film, “Gathered and Scattered.”

Chuck and Anne later made their home in Hawick, MN, near New London-Spicer, and then in 2000 returned to Milan. Retirement from farming could not be found in Chuck’s vocabulary and it was not unusual to see him visiting the farm, climbing out of his pick-up with cane in hand, and “supervising.” In 2012 Chuck and Anne came to Crookston and became residents of the Summit at Villa St. Vincent. With his health in decline, Chuck had recently moved to the nursing home side of the campus.

Chuck’s legacy was one of family, farming, faith, and flag; the love and devotion he had for his wife, Anne, and their children and grandchildren; his passion for the land that meant so much to him and his pride in passing its stewardship on to his son; a lifetime of faith and service to the Lord; and his patriotism demonstrated every time he put on his uniform. May God richly bless the memory of Charles Robert Kanten.

Grateful to have shared in Chuck’s life is his beloved wife of 61 years, Anne; their 3 children and spouses: Kent Kanten and wife, Kim, of Milan, MN, Erik Kanten and his wife, Judie, of Crookston, MN, and Rebecca Kanten-McCoy and her husband, Jack McCoy, of White Bear Lake, MN; 9 grandchildren: James (Laura) Kanten of Milan, Kristin (Aaron) Vadnais of Benson, MN, Timothy (Sierra) Kanten of Milan; Emily Kanten (Alex Ranz) of Moorhead, MN, Sarah Kanten, Mollie Kanten, and Rachel Kanten, all of Crookston; and Noah McCoy and Caitlin McCoy of White Bear Lake. He also leaves a brother, Ralph (Virgie) Kanten of Tempe, AZ; a sister, Alvira Anderson  of Los Angeles, CA; 2 brothers-in-law, Alvin Chromey of New Prague, MN and Lou Errede of Wayzata, MN; and many nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.  Chuck was preceeded in death by sisters Betty Kanten, Helen Chromey, Marion Errede and Dee Kanten.  

A memorial service celebrating the life of Charles Robert Kanten will be held at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, August 2, 2014, in the Chapel of the Villa St. Vincent in Crookston, MN, with The Rev. Cathie Rhodes, officiating.  Visitation with Chuck’s family will be for one hour prior to the service. A second memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, August 3, 2014, in the Kviteseid Lutheran Church in Milan, MN, with The Rev. Kristine Isder, officiating. Visitation will be at the church for the hour before the service. Burial will take place in the Kviteseid Lutheran Cemetery at a later date.

Online registry: www.stenshoelhouske.com