Keith Lee Kraft, age 93, long time Park Rapids, Minn. resident, peacefully passed into eternal life on Nov. 6, 2020 at Heritage Care Center in Park Rapids. For decades, until 1989, he was the presiding Judge in Hubbard, Cass, and Itasca Counties. His family remembers him best for his good nature, sense of humor, twinkly blue eyes, infectious laugh, and his love of eating fresh walleye.
Keith was born on May 7, 1927 in Hampton, Iowa, to Raymond and Florence (Knox) Kraft. On the day following his 1945 High School graduation from Ankeny High School in Iowa, he boarded a train headed for Paris Island Marine Corps Base in South Carolina. After receiving his honorable discharge from the Marines, Keith attended Drake University in Des Moines, and received his BA degree in 1950.
Keith’s marriage to Mary Ann In 1949 was blessed with four daughters: Dianne, Liah, Katherine and Terra. Throughout his life, he enjoyed house building, boat building, sailing, skiing, deer hunting, golfing, camping, and traveling with his family. Keith was also a member of St. Peter The Apostle Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, and Star of The North Marine Corps League. In 1981, Mary Ann passed away from cancer.
In 1951, Keith and his family moved to Park Rapids, Minn., where he taught at Park Rapids High School until March 1, 1955, when he was selected by then-Governor Orville Freeman to serve as Hubbard County Judge. At that time, he became the youngest sitting Judge serving in the United States. His career, first as a County Judge and then as a District Judge, spanned over 34 years. During those years, he also served in the Minnesota National Guard, and did special service at the Pentagon and at Ft. Lee, VA. He retired as a Major, after 36 total years in the military.
In 1985, Keith was united in marriage to Margaret Ann Skoe. After retiring from the bench, Keith enjoyed winters in Florida for twenty years with Margaret.
He will be lovingly remembered by his wife, Margaret, of Park Rapids; his four daughters: Dianne (Robert) Barry of Ft. Myers, FL, Liah (Jon David Alexander) Kraft-Kristaine of Eatonton, GA, Katherine Kraft of Ft. Worth, TX, and Terra Kraft Waters of St. Cloud, MN; five step-children: Kathy (Jim) Tande and Sue (Dave) Harsha all of Park Rapids, Nancy (Kurt Heinritz) Skoe of Pottstown, PA, Doug (Teresa) Skoe of Montrose, CO, and Steve (Anne) Skoe of Sartell, MN; 20 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his second wife, Lorelei Mickelson. Keith was preceded in death by his first wife, Mary Ann, his parents, one brother, Kenneth, and one sister, Karyl Linda.
A memorial service will be held in late summer, 2021, in Park Rapids, Minn. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Star of the North Marine Corps League by mailing to the Jones-Pearson Funeral Home. The full obituary is online at www.jonespearson.com.