Cover photo for Colleen Kish Toupin's Obituary
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1927 Colleen 2022

Colleen Kish Toupin

November 18, 1927 — February 12, 2022

Colleen B. Kish Toupin, aged 94, passed away February 12, 2022 peacefully with her family at her side.

Colleen Beverly Lange was born at the home of her parents, Walter Carl and Edith "Pauline" Lange, in rural Murray County, MN, on November 18, 1927, and was raised on a farm in the far southwest corner of MN. She attended five years at a one-room country school, starting at age 5. Because her mother was a teacher, Colleen had read all the first-grade books beforehand. Today, the school could be called "disadvantaged," because the library for the whole school consisted of one small wardrobe-but that was the typical situation in the rural school systems. The site was located 2 3/4 miles from home, in those days considered within walking distance (in all kinds of weather) for a five-year-old and a brother two years her senior. When he graduated from eighth grade into "town school," Colleen happily transferred as well, where she went on to become valedictorian. She always thoroughly enjoyed school and learning new skills. She then completed Cosmetology training at the Mankato Beauty School and worked two years in Rochester, where she met her future husband, Floyd John Kish at an old-time dance. They were married in Lake Wilson, MN, on December 26, 1946 (her parents' silver wedding anniversary), and moved to Zumbrota. They later were divorced.

In the post WWII housing crunch, there was nothing available in Zumbrota but a one-room cottage (with an all-purpose sink, including baths, in the kitchen end of the room and the toilet in a minimal closet). It was located in the back yard of the big Eberhart house on the southeast corner of West 5th and Mill Street, the house that became the surgical suite when the Community Hospital was built and for some time following. Soon afterward, the couple decided to self-build a small house at 233 West 5th Street, by the creek, which proved to be a tempting playground in successive years for their three sons. As their family grew, they later added onto the tiny house.

After working part-time for Lillian Miller in her hairdressing salon, she opted for full-time employment with the Marvins at the Zumbrota Telephone Company, located those days up the stairs on the northeast corner of Main and 3rd Street. Four years later, she resigned because of upcoming birth of son #1. She would have stayed on, BUT she didn't know that it was now acceptable to keep working AND have a family. That was perhaps the one time she admitted being behind the times! It took only six weeks to be back at work, at a new job as a nursing assistant at the new Community Hospital, where she continued part-time for four years. Then she took a job in Dr. Oliver E. H. Larson's office, which she would hold for 14 years. In the meantime, she completed a BA and an MA in English, which involved driving once a week to the U of M and several years of Summer School, and eventually culminated in a move from Zumbrota to accept a career at the MN Dept. of Education, Teacher Licensing Section. She retired from there June 30, 1991(actually was laid off in a cost-cutting staff reduction).

During those 20 years, she travelled extensively, including Europe and Asia, as well as the US. She proclaimed Paris as her favorite city, and the Greek and Roman ruins as her favorite sites; however, the most pure fun she had was at Mardi Gras. The ultimate tour was flying on the SS Concorde to England (about four hours) and cruising back to NY on Queen Elizabeth 2 (four-plus days, including a near-hurricane storm that shut down all facilities on the ship). Also, during the hiatus from Zumbrota, she married Harold Ovid Toupin, with whom she enjoyed over 30 years of travelling and snow-birding in Sun City West, AZ, where they had a second home. It was in AZ that she made the late-life discovery that she possessed some degree of talent in art, starting with pottery, then on to copper enameling and china painting, through stained glass work, to kiln-fused glass work and garden art, which were her last forte. She loved making artwork and seeing it in her sons' and grandchildren's homes. After her return to Zumbrota in 2016, settling into a remodeled historic home, Colleen piggy-backed on her son's hobby passions, working first with the local Arts Council and progressing to the History Center, including serving on the Board of Trustees. Other commitments she recalled from her earlier years included "clean the plate" (the hungry children story), "weekly cleaning" (almost religiously), and "you can take the girl away from the farm but you can't take the farm roots out of the girl." She always did enjoy reading and coloring in the books provided by wealthier aunts who didn't have children (for the "poor farm relatives"), and this enjoyment from reading and writing continued in later life.

Colleen is survived by two sons Kevin (Jennifer) Kish of Zumbrota and Dana (Debra) Kish of Molokai, Hawaii, plus 7 grandchildren and 11 greatgrandchildren: Philip (Chanchrisna) Kish and children Aria and Wylder of Byron; Lindsey Kish and son Julian of Minneapolis; Jeremy (Stephanie) Kish and Bradley, Daniel, and Taylor of Wanamingo; Jody (Arnie) Meyer and Brooklynn of Pine Island; Jennifer (Seth) Kish/Finck and Cora of Medina; Ariel Kish and sons Jacob Grant and Ethan Grant of Mindoro, WI; Brittney (Phil) Tauscher and Teagan of Onalaska, WI; plus the large step-family of Kevin and Jennifer Kish. Preceding Colleen in death were her beloved husband Harold Toupin, first husband Floyd Kish, parents; two brothers Dwayne and Lee Lange ; and son Karol John Kish.

Any memorials are suggested to Zumbrota State Theatre Encore campaign or donor's choice.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Colleen Kish Toupin, please visit our flower store.


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