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Dear Dad – A letter to Duane Kottke a year after his passing

Saturday, September 29, 2018, marked the one-year anniversary of Duane Kottke’s passing. For those of you that might not know, Duane was Kurt, Kory and Kyle’s father and the second generation owner of Kottke Trucking. He along with his wife Connie were the visionaries of the business and integral to how we operate to this day.

Kyle wrote the below letter on Saturday to his dad.

Dear Dad –

You would be embarrassed of the recognition you have gotten one year past your passing. You would say that you were nothing special, yet my Facebook timeline is full of your stories (you barely understood what Facebook was, but the concept you would love!).

Your granddaughters are posting things that make me cry. Your friends are posting notes of pure joy. Those you have passed a few times are sharing fun joys and yet at the center of all of these stories are true passion and love.

You have Laurie and Ted donating their time to the Truck Convoy again… in your memory.

I did the fuel run today and found myself on Hwy 13 in Savage. I don’t know where Dan Patch’s bar would have been but if that place could validate some of those stories, we would all probably laugh!

I remember things of you as well…

  • your true passion, love and dedication to life, your family and your business.
  • how you believed in tough love.
  • how you held us to a higher standard because you could.
  • staying in Hudson, WI for weeks at a time with you.
  • going on one long trip a year with you in the truck.
  • Eric and I making you mad and all you had to do is turn the hall light on and hold a belt (we both know you would never hit us).
  • you helping me buy my first stock (Canterbury Downs) at about 12 years old and asking me every week what the price was.
  • you leaving early in the mornings but yet taking the time on every sporting event to congratulate a success or wish me well.
  • you attending a few sporting events but not many. When you did, you never told me I did well but rather that you were proud of me.
  • you spending extra time with me when I joined the family business.
  • you being able to make a MTA chairman’s address and you told me that you were proud of me.
  • I remember your ability to do a lot of math in your head and fast.
  • you teaching me that a full bushel isn’t one of money but of love.
  • reflecting on life and being happy of what you had done. I remember you telling me that you hoped that I would be able to live life to the fullest and have fun with it.

You had a knack of how to do things. You knew when to shake peoples hands, when to tell stories, when to listen to every word and when to give someone a hug. And your laugh! You could change the mood of the room with one laugh.

Your ability to communicate was wonderful. Your choice of words sometimes was less than perfect but because of your constant passion, your message was always clear and heartfelt. People loved you because you loved them. People loved working in our company because Mom and you truly made it a big family.

Every morning I put my shoes on hoping that my feet are too big for my shoes. I use a shoe stretcher frequently. I am hoping that one day my feet will fit in your shoes. I understand that this goal could very possibly become a burden and the chances are as good that I will not succeed as I do. I also know that you sure as heck would not accept me to do anything other than live my own life my own way and if that was to live up to a standard I set, you would expect that I would try to succeed.

So, this morning, after finding my shoes still fit, I saw an image. One that had to be you telling me to continue to push forward, one year after you left my side.

Tomorrow… I plan to do just the same.

My dad, my mentor, and my friend left me a year ago. But he left me with a great impression of what a good man looks like. I sure hope those shoes fit…

Love you, Dad.

PS – You’re welcome to put a little tissue in my shoe tomorrow morning to make my feet feel a little bit bigger, it would be a good laugh for us both… Let’s go!

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