Campus mourns death of Kutsche Office of Local History founder

Paul Kutsche, founder of the Kutsche Office of Local History, died May 18.
Image credit - courtesy photo
man with others at picnic table
Paul Kutsche is pictured at a Cook Library Center community celebration.
Image credit - courtesy photo

Paul Kutsche, whose gift established Grand Valley's Kutsche Office of Local History, died May 18 after several weeks in hospice care. He was 90.

Kutsche, a Grand Rapids native, retired as professor emeritus of anthropology from Colorado College. He returned to Michigan and, in 2008, worked with Grand Valley leaders to establish an office that would support local historians and cultural heritage organizations, and give voice to diverse communities. 

Director Kimberly McKee said Kutsche's passion for preserving the voices of underrepresented communities was evident in his discussions with her.

"He inspired me and my commitment to creating community amongst those invested in local history and documenting histories of those who often find themselves on the margins," McKee said. "His loss will be felt by the community as he was a vibrant and steadfast proponent of local history."

Anne Hiskes, dean of the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, said housing the Kutsche Office of Local History within Brooks College has helped expand the college's collaborative work with community partners while providing high-impact learning opportunities for students.

"The Kutsche Office is a fitting legacy for Paul, who was a cultural anthropologist, educator, local historian, and truly engaged citizen of West Michigan and the world," Hiskes said. "The people of West Michigan and Grand Valley’s students, faculty, and staff will continue to benefit from the generosity of Paul and his family for generations to come."

Within the past year, the Kutsche Office of Local History partnered with Holland-area organizations to collect oral histories and create an exhibit of area Latino residents; partnered with campus departments to host an exhibit of Grand Valley student activism through the decades; and hosted its annual Local History Roundtable, which featured a keynote address by Bich (Beth) Minh Nguyen, author of Stealing Buddha's Dinner and other books.

A celebration-of-life service will be held on Saturday, June 3, at 2 p.m. at Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain St. NE in Grand Rapids, with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Kutsche Office of Local History Endowment Fund.


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