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Arlene Kurkowski - January 05, 2012


Arlene Kurkowski was born on March 3, 1920 on the Gengenbach farm southeast of Grant, Neb. She was the fourth of nine children born to Christian and Anna Schurr Gengenbach.
Arlene grew up on the family farm and attended District #76 country school along with her siblings, walking or riding horses the two miles to school. The Gengenbach family always remained close, the nine children never living more than 40 miles from the original family home. She attended high school in Grant and graduated from Perkins County High School in 1937. After graduation, Arlene worked in the extension office at the Perkins County Courthouse.
Arlene was married to Eugene “Whitey” Kurkowski on April 23, 1943 in Grant. One daughter, Susan, was born to this union. The marriage later ended in divorce.
Whitey and Arlene lived in San Francisco while Whitey was in the service during World War II. They returned to Grant after Whitey’s discharge and owned and operated the Grant Bakery.
In 1953, Arlene began her judical career as a part-time clerk and typist for County Judge Thurston Bechtel. In 1956, she was appointed as acting county judge in the event of the judge’s absence. In 1968, she was elected as the Perkins County judge. In 1973, the Nebraska State Legislature revised the court system and Arlene was appointed as an associate county judge. Even with a new title her responsibility level didn’t lessen. Among her many responsibilities Arlene noted that she performed 71 wedding ceremonies during her career. She retired from the judge’s office in 1986 after 33 years.
Arlene stayed busy after retirement with her yard, flower garden, gift of hospitality, love of baking and travelling. She was able to stay in her own home until the third week of December when a heart ailment caused her to transfer to the Perkins County Community Hospital where she died Wednesday night, Dec. 28, 2011. She had reached the age of 91.
Arlene was civic minded and was always very active in the American Legion Auxiliary, holding many offices and encouraging the development of a Jr. Legion Auxiliary and the Perkins County Alumni Association. She was an instrumental force and a counselor for the Girls State program. She was a strong supporter of the 4-H program and served as a leader when her daughter was growing up. Arlene was a lifetime member of the Grant Zion Lutheran Church and had taught Sunday School for 31 years. She was an active member of the Zion Lutheran Ladies. Arlene was a charter member and had served on the board of the Perkins County Historical Society.
In addition to her parents, Arlene was preceded in death by her brother, Harold Gengenbach, and her sister, Lillian Logsdon.
She is survived by her daughter Susan and her husband Charles Traxler and their two boys, Nick and Chad, all of the Dallas, Texas area; two brothers, George and his wife Betty Gengenbach and Dan and his wife Evelyn Gengenbach, all of the Grant area; four sisters, Dorothy Keuten of Grant, Eleanor Russell of Wallace, Neb., Rosie and her husband Jack Barry of Grant and Anita and her husband Don Most of Ogallala; many nieces and nephews, other relatives and friends.
Funeral services were held on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012 at the Grant Zion Lutheran Church with Pastor Ron Krause officiating.
Burial was in the Grant Fairview Cemetery.
A memorial has been established.
Bullock-Long Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.