In Memory

Gary Kratzke

Gary Kratzke

Gary Robert Kratzke, age 73, of Motley and formerly of North Mankato, died Monday, June 6,
2022, at Senior Class Community in Pequot Lakes, Minnesota.

Funeral Service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran
Church in North Mankato. Visitation will be held from 4 -7 p.m., Monday at Northview-North
Mankato Mortuary, 2060 Commerce Drive, North Mankato and will continue one hour before
the service at the church on Tuesday. Burial at Woodland Hills Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to MAYBA, Mankato West Booster Club or the Alzheimer’s
Association at

Gary was born March 17, 1949, to Raymond and Selma (Engel) Kratzke in Mankato. He
graduated from Mankato High School in 1967 and from Mankato State with a BS Degree in
1971. Gary was married on October 7, 1972, to Julie Graif in Mankato. Together they had three
children. Julie died in 1994.

Gary married Laurel Tennessen on August 30, 1996, in Mankato.
Gary started working for Matt J. Graif Clothing in 1973 and bought the store in 1982. Gary sold
the store and retired from retail in 2012. Gary and Laurel moved to the Brainerd Lakes
Area in 2013 and enjoyed his retirement years.

Gary was a member of St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church in North Mankato, Mankato Sertoma
Club, Brainerd Area Sertoma Club, former YMCA board member, MAYBA, Mankato West
Booster Club, and the Mankato Golf Club.

Gary was a talented athlete and was active in sports
throughout his life. He especially enjoyed coaching his children’s youth sports teams. He cared
about his young players and taught them life values besides the skills of the game. Gary’s
grandchildren were a joy in his life, and he was proud to watch them excel in his favorite games,
baseball and football. Gary enjoyed riding bike, golfing, watching sports, gardening, and boating.

Gary’s memory will be forever cherished by his wife, Laurel of Motley;
three children, Joseph (Jill) Kratzke of North Mankato, Jillian (Neil) McLyn of Cave Creek, AZ,
Justin “Gus” (Nakita) Kratzke of Minneapolis; four grandchildren, Jacen Kratzke, Jakeb Kratzke,
Benjamin McLyn, and Charlie McLyn; two sisters, Joyce (Steve) Oachs of Mankato, Marilyn
(Charles) Christiansen of St. Peter; father-in-law, Mel Tennessen of Brewster; in-laws, Leslie
(Mark) Slater, Melanie (Doug) Peterson, Dawn (Darren) Murphy, Matt (Shelly) Tennessen,
Krystal (Brent) Bohnsack, Andy (fiancé Heather Peters) Tennessen; nieces, nephews, and
cousins and his beloved golden retriever, Champ, who never left his side.

Gary was preceded in death by with his parents; wife, Julie; sister, Carol
Hanel and mother-in-law, Carol Tennessen.

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06/15/22 02:02 PM #1    

Robert Ekstam

I've known Gary for a long time. We were in the same kindergarten class. Year later  I was in town visiting family  I tried to stop by to say hello to Gary at Graifs, and he always had time to chat. He always knew what was happening with mutual Mankato friends and classmates. RIP Gary!

FYI, Gary was on my 1960 little league team.  I just posted under my name on the class of 67 website a somewhat fuzzy photo of that team. I wasn't sure if I could post it here or if that was even appropriate. Check it out if you are interested.

06/16/22 05:57 PM #2    

James Fredrickson

Gary and I were buddies at N. Mankao Jr. High and MHS, and we also attended the same church, St. Paul's Lutheran.  We lost touch after I moved to Alaska, but I enjoyed seeing him from time to time at reunions. We've lost another fine person from the Class of '67.

06/17/22 09:25 AM #3    

Barbara Strusz (Wilbur)

So sorry to hear of Gary's death ... Gary and I were childhood neighbors in North Mankato... went to the same church and were confirmed together ... his daughter, Jill, was a grade school friend of my niece... grateful for many great childhood memories...prayers to his family... 


06/17/22 05:50 PM #4    

Phil Meyer

Here is an article that was published in the Mankato Free Press 6/16/22 about Gary

06/21/22 03:01 PM #5    

Phil Meyer

This is a series of comments posted by Jim Roy, Bob Ekstam and Jim Fredrickson:

Jim Roy

Getting ready for Gary’s wake and funeral I drove around North Mankato and Mankato to some of the old places that brought back some great memories. Most of them revolved around sports which seemed to be how we spend alot of our time growing up. I started with baseball and I smiled when I drove past the little grass field at the west end of the church parking lot. Many pickup baseball games were played there at all times of the day and night. Night games due to the corner street light.

As we grew, we moved to across the street to the school lot between Monroe Elementary and Garfield Junior High. If you hit the tree in left field that was a home run everything else you had to run it out. Next move was to the skating rink at Wheeler Park and then to the field at Wheler Park where we played junior high ball. Spring (Mud) Lake Park fields were also used some. Little league was with the Indians (thanks Bob Ekstam for those memories). The games were play on top of Main Street hill. We got to the games by riding our bicycles both ways up the hill. Older ages, Baby Ruth, American Legion and VFW ball were at Franklin Rodgers Park.

Basketball was played in single car driveways, the North Mankato municipal building, YMCA and schools when we could get in. Football was played at any open lot. Anything could be used as the line marker. Night games were played on the south side of Monroe Elementary using the light from the security light. All that time cumulated in having the privilege to play for Mankato High School. To show it is a small world my mother-in-law worked at Matt J Graif for forty years, the last 20 with Gary, Gary was a good friend. RIP

Bob Ekstam

Jim, Thanks, Thanks for the great summary of how we entertained ourselves with sports as we grew up in N. Mankato. My recollections are almost identical with yours, though I forgot the small baseball field behind the Lutheran Church. We must have been very young then. To add on to what you wrote, there was the Babe Ruth diamond at Wheeler Park, where the batters boxes were dug down three inches and seemed to always have puddles. We were lucky if the Parks Dept. had someone put in chalk lines before a game. And who can forget that very short right field had no fence with a short berm at the wide open street. Imagine today a street being wide open to the field of play! Thanks for sharing. I hope all is well.

Jim Fredrickson

As I recall, most of those bb games were played in Bob’s, Denny’s and Gary’s driveways. I also recall a pick-up football game in N Mankato when I collided with Rich Sundheim (remember him?) with my head hitting his jaw and breaking it. For my birthday a week later he gave me a bag of jawbreakers with a note saying: “Fred, bite hard!” Thanks for the memories, guys.

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