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From the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram



Dr. Curt Hutchens



Dr. Curt Hutchens, age 80, of Duluth, passed away Monday, September 27, surrounded by family, following a difficult journey with Alzheimer's.

Curt was born August 6, 1941, in Eau Claire, WI, to Howard and Nettie Hutchens. He grew up spending summers at the family cottage on Lake Altoona where his lifelong love of water sports began. He graduated from Eau Claire Memorial High School, where he had been a valued member of the wrestling and football teams, in 1959.

He started playing college football at UW-Madison as a Freshman but soon gave it up to become a serious student in order to gain admission into medical school. He graduated from UW-Madison in 1963 and went on to graduate from the UW Medical School in 1967. He continued to a rotating internship at St. Luke's Hospital, Duluth, a year of general surgical residency at the Gundersen Clinic, LaCrosse, WI, and a urology residency, which he completed in 1972, from the University of Minnesota Hospitals.

From 1972 to 1974, he served in the US Army Medical Corps as the Chief of Urology, at Fort Riley, Kansas. He moved his family to Duluth, in 1974, to join Drs. Fifield, Streitz and Brooker in the practice of urology as a partner in what came to be known as Northland Urology Associates. In 2004, he, along with his partner, Dr. Roger Miller, began a new affiliation with St. Luke's Hospital as St. Luke's Urology Associates.

He was board certified and a member of the American Board of Urology, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, an associate clinical professor for the medical schools at UMD and the U of M, and a clinical instructor, with an Outstanding Teacher Award, for the Duluth Family Practice Center. For St. Luke's Hospital, he served many years as Chief of Surgery, Chief of Urology, Chair of the Intensive Care Committee and the Medical Director for Lithotripsy. He was on the Board of Trustees for Midwest Stone Management.

He had served on the Active Staff for the three Duluth hospitals and on the Consulting Staff for several area hospitals. He served on Northland Medical Associates Board of Directors where he also was the Medical Director of Quality Control and served on the Strategic Planning Committee.

He served as President, Vice President, Secretary and Delegate at large for the Minnesota Urological Society from 1984-1988. He was an active member of the North Central Section of the American Urological Association, American Fertility Society, Minnesota Surgical Society, St. Louis County Medical Society, Minnesota Medical Society and the American Medical Association.

He was honored to have the opportunity to provide a demonstration lecture to the exercise physiology students, in the cadaver dissection laboratory, at the College of St. Scholastica, while his wife was there pursuing her Master's degree in exercise physiology.

Curt's primary passion in life was to practice medicine and to provide compassionate care for his patients in a listening environment. While his scheduled appointments often ran beyond the appointment times, he always assured the next patient there would be as much time as needed when it was their turn.

When away from his clinical and hospital environments, Curt aggressively pursued many activities. He acquired mountain climbing skills in the Exum Training program in the Grand Tetons in 1971 and drove straight from there to a successful ascent of Mount Rainer.

While his family was growing, they enjoyed many camping, hiking and trail riding trips in the national parks in the Rockies and into Canada. Memorable times for sure.
His deep love of downhill skiing with all his children and grandchildren, from toddler to adulthood, meant many ski vacations to areas in the Midwest and to various venues in Colorado. In his later years, he was a season passholder at Spirit Mountain where he continued to ski until he was 76.

He spent many winters cross country skiing with Mark Myles and training for the annual "Birkie" with some of the great local skiers of all time and, of course, generated a lifetime of stories to recount.

He enjoyed water skiing during his decades of summers at the cottage on Lake Altoona and, again, later, at the Lake House on Barrs Lake. He patiently taught his children and grandchildren to get up on their skis, enjoy tow-behinds as well as to simply enjoy floating quietly in the water.

Curt's love of Lake Superior led to the purchase of their sailboat, Scrimshaw, which the family enjoyed sailing on Lake Superior. Each year included extended stays at Bayfield. He had many stories to tell of his fun and adventures during those sailing days, many of which included great times with the Phillips, Ekbergs and Hubners.

He always remembered a trip to the Virgin Islands of St. Thomas and St. Johns with close friends. There he was able to rekindle an enjoyment of scuba diving and loved snorkeling in the beautiful blue waters highlighted by the white sands.

With the spurring on and assistance of Dave Anderson and Kim Heytens, Curt became interested in racing, breeding, and raising thoroughbreds. The family moved to Gnesen Township. Ridgewood Farms was born and developed from land which was uniquely beautiful and peaceful. He pounded every fence post, strung every wire, and designed the barns, pastures and related outbuildings to maximize their potential. The family was deeply involved with horse racing in Minnesota. In 1995, Curt and his wife were chosen as Minnesota Breeders of the Year and thoroughly enjoyed being guests of honor and entertained at many of the well-known horse farms in Lexington, Kentucky. Their filly, Argenti, who Curt foaled at the farm, won several stakes races and was crowned 1995 3 year old Minnesota Bred Filly of the Year. Her Dam, Ridgewood Farms owned, Pontoises Princess, was crowned 1995 Minnesota Broodmare of the year. The Hutchens went on, for a total of 20 years, to raise many more thoroughbreds and successfully race them in Canada and many states beyond Minnesota, including Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas, among others.

While he skied many "Birkies", and finished many marathons, triathlons and duathlons, and was always ready to participate in athletic activities, he also searched to develop his spiritual side.

He developed a regular meditation practice which started with a few retreats/seminars at the Chopra Center in LaJolla, CA. He and his wife ultimately, in 2000, joined a group with Deepak Chopra for a 3 week trip around India. It was an experience of a lifetime and a spiritual journey he always remembered.

Curt was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Rita; three children, Curt (Beth) Hutchens, Andrea (Scott) Wojahn and Kristin (Craig) Lambert, and four grandchildren, Sarah, Erica, Alex and Austen.

Curt's family thanks Joe Paquette, for all the help and assistance he provided when Curt was no longer able to maintain the lake and farm properties. They also thank Dr. Timothy Kleinschmidt for the excellent medical care he provided for Curt over the years, including during his final weeks. Thanks for all the kindness and care shown by the Solvay Hospice House team directly responsible for caring for Curt. The family was appreciative and very thankful for the loving, kind and compassionate care, during his final days, from the Minnesota Hospice Team, in particular, Kate Panning (LGSW), Tammy Johnston (APRN, AGNP-C), Ashley Patel (RN) and Brenda Pexa (LPN) who were available and tirelessly at his side with the family 24/7 until the end.

There will be a Celebration of Life in 2022. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to St. Luke's Foundation or to North Country Ride (ncride.com).