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Rudolph Paul KutscheJanuary 3, 1927 ~ May 18, 2017 (age 90)
Rudolph Paul (“Buzz”) Kutsche, Jr., age 90, passed away peacefully at his home in Grand Rapids on May 18, 2017, with his daughter and nephew by his side. Born on January 3, 1927, to Rudolph and Ethel Kutsche, he was preceded in death by his three older brothers, Blake, Stuart, and Robert. His college years at Harvard were broken up by a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, during which he mustered his brother Bob out of the service. He received a B.A. in 1949. Graduate degrees in anthropology followed from U.Mich. (M.A. 1955) and U.Penn. (Ph.D. 1961). He also studied at Black Mountain College and the University of Oslo, and was a United Press reporter in London.
Buzz founded the Department of Anthropology at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, where he taught from 1959 to 1993. He did fieldwork in Cherokee, NC, Northern New Mexico, and Costa Rica, publishing numerous articles and four books: Cañones, A Guide to Cherokee Documents in the Northeastern U.S., Voices of Migrants, and Field Ethnography. As an activist, Buzz’s extensive letter-writing campaign in the 1990s resulted in a significant increase in the number of colleges and universities to adopt LGBTQ antidiscrimination policies. He led the American Anthropological Association to make a nondiscrimination pledge, and chaired its Gay & Lesbian Caucus.
A deep sense of history and family were central to Buzz’s identity. Upon his retirement, he returned to Grand Rapids, settling in a house on Heritage Hill a block from where he grew up. Dear to his heart were his childhood at the Port Sheldon family cottage, and his own cottage near Little Point Sable Lighthouse
The Kutsche Office of Local History at Grand Valley State University is his proudest professional legacy. The Office facilitates the collection and preservation of stories of underrepresented groups in Western Michigan. One of the people he worked with said, “He made me feel, for the first time, that my history matters.”
Buzz was much beloved among his students and friends. His sense of humor was famous, as was his exuberant personality, and the love he extended to those who needed it most. He took a personal interest in everyone he met. His New Mexican family and friends affectionately dubbed 6’5” Buzz, Pablito (“Little Paul”).
Buzz served two terms on the city Historical Commission. He volunteered at the Westminster Presbyterian Church Food Pantry for over 20 years. He was active on the Harvard Alumni Schools Committee, and kept in close contact with many admitted students.
Buzz leaves his daughter Moana Kutsche (Brian Ehrmantraut), granddaughter Brigid Ehrmantraut,, and comadre Barbara Ehrmantraut, of Eastsound, WA; adoptive son Alex Matos, of Copperas Cove, TX; numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews (each of whose kinship relations he relished in describing with great accuracy); generations of loyal students; and a legion of devoted friends.
All are welcome to a Celebration of Life on Saturday, June 3 at 2 p.m. at Fountain Street Church. A service will be held in northern New Mexico at a later date. The family requests memorial contributions to the Kutsche Office of Local History at Grand Valley State University.