Donald W. Kurza, 91, of Oak Ridge, formerly a longtime resident of Bergenfield, died at home Sunday, January 30, 2022 in the care of his loving family.
Born in Grantwood, Don was the son of Alfred and Lulu Kurza, and was raised in Cliffside Park, NJ. After graduating from Leonia High School in June 1950, Don enlisted in the Army National Guard, earning the rank of Sergeant First Class while on US Army active duty service in Austria before his honorable discharge in 1953. He fell in love with Catherine Kruse and they married on March 28, 1957. They lived with Don’s parents in Palisades Park until purchasing their Bergenfield home in November 1958. Here they raised their family starting with son, Donny, and eventually grew to a family of seven, welcoming the births of daughters Lorraine, Cynthia, and Karin, and another son, John. Don loved his children and was proud of the adults they have become.
Time spent with family was always important to Don and Cathy. In 1985 they invested in a second home in Cochecton, NY, where there was room for spirited gatherings with their children, grandchildren and friends. It was also a peaceful country getaway for them.
Don enjoyed the simple pleasures in life. He had an amazing ability to fix almost anything, especially if it had a motor. Tinkering in his workshop, helping one of the kids with a school project, cultivating his vegetable garden, spending a little time winning at the blackjack table, having a cold beer sitting under the birch trees with Catherine on a hot summer day, listening to the likes of Patsy Cline, Hank Williams or Frank Sinatra, or lending a helping hand to a neighbor.
Holidays were special times, especially Christmas. Don would bring home a tree on Christmas Eve, the kids decorating as much as they could before heading to bed. On Christmas morning, a tired Don and Cathy joyfully watched their children delight in a fully decorated tree swimming in a sea of presents.
Don enjoyed travel near and far with family and friends – from the Jersey Shore-where Don would amaze the kids with skeeball skills honed at Palisades Amusement Park in his youth-and Catskill Game Farm to as far away as Alaska, Hawaii, Germany, Austria, Italy and more.
Don was always up for a challenge and worked hard. He started early, frying eggs at his parents’ Palisades Park diner before heading to school. He had fond memories of working on his grandfather’s Roscoe, NY farm both in the fields and keeping the machinery running. The mechanical skills he developed proved quite useful for his early career as a mechanic for Ace Equipment Company in Maywood NJ, advancing to Foreman and Shop Manager.
In 1976, Don partnered With Jack Moninger to open Construction & Industrial Equipment Corp., a landmark for 45 years on Route 17 in Lodi, NJ. Although the location of the dealership has changed to Ringwood, the ethics that Don lived by remain: treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself. He considered customers as friends and was respected by his peers. Don reluctantly retired in 2018 due to health issues.
He was a proud PopPop to his ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and was also a wonderful friend to a tight circle he kept throughout his life. His good nature and great sense of humor were appreciated by all who knew him.
Donald is survived by his children Donny and his wife Ruthie, Lorraine Claussen, Cynthia Wagner and her husband Richard, Karin DeVincenzi and her husband Andrew, and John and his wife Margaret; grandchildren Amanda, Michelle, Monica, Zachary, Steven, Addison, Jennifer, Brooke, Thomas and Anthony; great-grandchildren Caleb and Violet, and many wonderful nieces and nephews. He is pre-deceased by wife Catherine as well as his brother Alfred Kursa, sisters Marjorie Figgis, Geraldine Marie Sandstrom, and Paula Schamber.
Donald Kurza was a caring, generous man and will be greatly missed. Due to current conditions, the memorial service will be held in Spring. In lieu of flowers, donations to a charity of your choice in Donald’s memory would be greatly appreciated by the Kurza family.