Glen Francis Karsten
Yep, it’s true. My match has ended. I had many health scares, and once even wrestled a bear and won, but “the 19” (as I called it) finally pinned me to the mat Jan 28, 2021.
The 5th of five kids, I was born to George & Josephine in 1942 in George, Iowa. We moved to Worthington when I was five, to the farm I lived on all my life until my kids told me it was time to sell. It wasn’t easy growing up in a three-bedroom house with a pot-belly stove and one bathroom, that is, once we got an indoor bathroom. And kids today think they have it hard. I’ll be reuniting with Dad, Mom and my sister Elizabeth Hatting soon, but my siblings Georgia Young, Marlys Heidebrink, and Dennis Karsten are still alive and kickin’.
I lucked out and married the good lookin’ nurse who took care of me when I was in the hospital, a great gal named Barbara Hagen. She gave me four kids, Amy (Carlos) Tellez of Charlotte NC, Joel (Patty) Karsten of Roseville MN, Laura (Brad) Hoffman of Worthington MN, and Andrea (Justin Bouwman) Brown of Marshall MN. Amy, Joel, Laura, and Andrea couldn’t be more different and I thank God they took after their mother in so many ways and me in some ways too. When I married Barbara, it was a package deal. I also got her big family, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It just meant seven more brothers and sisters, and boy did we have good times. It was a good thing we all got along, because we spent many summers at the lake together and took many great couples’ vacations together. We went to Branson a few times, which was OK with me because classic country was the best to sing along and dance to.
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that for sure was true for me. I dreamed up more contraptions than Thomas Edison ever hoped to, and most of ‘em worked pretty good, like my homemade garden tractor and my fluorescent-pink tree planter. I could weld the whiskers back onto a kitten. I was a farmer but hated milking cows so I sold them and took up field-tiling and well work (that’s a deep subject). I sold Christmas trees for a while and windbreak trees for thirty years, and as of a few days ago my kids now own a tree nursery. See a list of trees for sale at KarstenNursery.com.
I really liked to go huntin’ and fishin’. I taught so many kiddos to wet a line, and that was the best. Not just my kids and grandkids, but so many nieces and nephews at our annual lake vacation. I got a kick out of watching them catch little crappies and sunnies, and never had the heart to tell ‘em they weren’t worth saving. I could clean fish with the best of them, even slicing the Y bones out of a northern fillet under the dim light of a fish cleaning shack at midnight.
People who didn’t know better thought I was a big tough guy, but really I was a teddy bear at heart. I did my best to be a good guy and help my friends at least as much as they helped me. I was raised to give a hand when you could if someone needed help, and I always set that example for my kids. Everyone always talked about my big hands. I don’t know, they were just my hands. Big enough to do hard work, play pinochle with my friends, hug my kids and hold my wife when we danced. For a big guy, I was always a pretty good dancer. It must have been my wrestling that made me light on my feet; it sure wasn’t my diet. Meat-and-potatoes for me, and none of that green stuff, unless it was lettuce with sugar on it. Later in my life, I was lucky to reunite with a classmate, Donna Simons, who I ran into at local dances. She was a real bright light in my life, and I’m grateful for the time we had together. She was a terrific cook and companion. We shared many memories from the olden days and the getting “old” days. Let that be a lesson to the youngins’ – cookin and dancing can be the way to someone’s heart.
I’m not one to brag, but I was a pretty good wrestler, back in my day, and even won a couple national junior college championships. And then there’s that bear-wrestling thing; my friends made me do it. Four kids and a wife, “come on Glen, he’s only 700 pounds” that wasn’t well thought out, but those in attendance can tell ya that I did win that match. I never collected the $10,000 prize money, but my brothers-in-law gave me a $10 trophy. There’s no way I’d still have the money, but I do still have that trophy. Now my kids will need to draw straws to see who gets it.
I always looked forward to daily coffee with the guys. And of course we solved all the world’s problems, if only people would listen. Telling jokes was one of my best talents, I had a million of them, and my friends heard them all a thousand times but they still laughed every time. We were buddies til the end, either their end or mine. You know who you all are, you ‘ol farts. We had great times together.
When I finally sold my farm and moved to town, I remember telling my kids that it was better that I sold the farm than if I “bought the farm.” And I had quite a few good years after that. I got to see all my kids end up happy and my grandkids grow up a little. There wasn’t a thing in the world I wouldn’t do for them, or give to them, even my last dollar which it sometimes felt like. And all those grandkids – Caleb, Noah, Grace, Elise, Alexandra and Karsten – are something else… boy, did they love their grandpa, and they gave the best hugs. Some say Karsten even looks like me, lucky kid.
I’m so happy to see my Barbara again. She beat me to heaven, and many people couldn’t believe that. It was hard for me to let her go, but I figured God wanted another angel and she went on ahead to try to smooth the way for me, which probably wasn’t easy. Laura told me I couldn’t die on Mom’s birthday, so I waited a day. Just like any good husband would do.
Information about services will be announced at a later date, so hopefully people can come, tell stories and have one last laugh with me. In the meantime, think of me next time you go huntin’ or fishin’, tell a joke… or wrestle a bear.
Benson Funeral Home in Worthington is in charge of the arrangements.