Bernard “Sugar” Kuzma, age 87, dies

A Memorial Mass will be at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 13

Bernard “Sugar” Kuzma, age 87, passed away peacefully with his loving family by his side on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at the Boundary Waters Care Center in Ely.

Sugar was born, the youngest of nine children, to Anton and Katherine (Mehelcic) Kuzma on October 28, 1929. He graduated from Ely Memorial High School and entered the U.S. Army in 1951 and served his country proudly as a forward observer during the Korean Conflict until his honorable discharge in 1953.

In 1954, Sugar married LaVerne “Tootsie” Starkman and together they raised three children in Ely. Sugar started his mining career at the Pioneer Mine in Ely and continued working at Reserve Mining Company and later Cyprus/Northshore Mining as a member of the “bull gang” repairing heavy equipment until his retirement in 1992.
Sugar was a member of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church and the VFW.

Survivors include his wife Tootsie of 63 years, sister Christine “Teenie” Klein, children: Nancy (Alan) Andreae of Ely, Richard (Barb) Kuzma of Eagan, and Tracy (Pat) Cherne of Rosemount; grandchildren: Benjamin (Erin) Novak, Leah (Mike) Baroun, Kristin Youngren, Jon (Erica) Andreae, Mandy (Andy) Wineberg, Jill (Derek) Brown, Jordan (Krista) Kuzma, Matt (Dawn) Cherne, Tony (Loretta) Cherne and Steve (Karmon) Cherne. He is also survived by his great-grandchildren: Bernard, Sophia, Audrey, Addison, Caleb, Henry, Jack, Emmett, Eleanor, Parker, Jackson, Ethan and Logan as well as numerous nieces and nephews and countless friends.

Family was of utmost importance to Sugar, especially watching his grandchildren and great-grandchildren enjoying the family cabin on Eagles Nest Lake. Sugar spent countless hours volunteering in the community over the years including coaching Little League, clearing snow off Lincoln Rink for neighborhood kids to play hockey and skate, assist in the construction of the Ely Ice Arena as well as grooming the Little League field after his retirement. He also loved to garden, fish and pick berries. Sugar was a faithful listener to Saturday Polka Time and WELY. He had a passion for all levels of hockey and will be remembered for his cheering “watch the sleeper” at local games.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Tony, Joe and Frank; sisters Mary Clark, Ann Dalton, Fran Golob and Molly Bartos; and son-in-law Jim Novak.

A Memorial Mass will be at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 13 at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Ely with Fr. Brandon Moravitz as celebrant. Visitation will begin one hour prior to the mass at the church. Military Honors will be accorded by the Ely Honor Guard.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests a donation to Northwoods Partners in Ely, MN.