Curtis Alan Axen, 69, passed away peacefully on September 3, 2021 at his home in Rochester, Minnesota with his wife of 47 years, Dianne, by his side. Curt endured a chronic lung disease which he dealt with courageously, facing the challenge through the end with bravery, strength and positivity.
Curt was born August 4, 1952 in Oakpark, Illinois, the son of Evelyn (Anderson) and John Axen. He graduated from Lutheran High School in Racine, Wisconsin. Curt continued his education at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville where he met and fell in love with Dianne. They had one daughter, Jennifer, in 1974 and eventually moved to Rochester, MN in 1982 when Dianne took a position with Mayo Clinic.
Curt enjoyed a long and prolific career as a landscape designer. A true artist, Curt was passionate about trees, nature, architecture and design. Curt greatly admired the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Jens Jensen who inspired many of the landscape designs and gardens he planted throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.
Curt was a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather. He loved taking road trips with his wife, exploring new places, listening to live music and traveling to see his daughter and granddaughter in California.
He is survived by his wife, Dianne, daughter, Jennifer (Mike Hyland) and granddaughter, Maya. He is also survived by two sisters, Sharyn (Merritt) Rhoads and Lisa (Ed) Smerchek.
Services and a celebration of life will be held Saturday, October 9, 2021 at 10am at the First Unitarian Universalist Church 1727 Walden Lane SW, Rochester, MN. Memorials may be sent to Season's Hospice or donor's choice.
Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Axen Family; to share a special memory or condolence, please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com
Celebration Of Life
Rochester, Minnesota 55902
I am so grateful for the time that I got to have with Curt. Anyone who knew him, knew that nothing was more important to him than Dianne, Jenny and Maya and the way that he welcomed me into that precious circle, after Jenny and I found each other and fell in love, was extraordinarily generous. He always treated me like a member of the family, a son and a friend. He made me feel so welcomed and loved when I asked for his blessing to marry Jen. The example that his and Dianne's relationship set for what a marriage could be like was a blessing to witness. Their love and togetherness is one of the most aspirational unions I have ever known.
Curt had a phenomenal sense of humor and contagious laugh. He had an infinite number of interesting stories across the whole spectrum of thought- history, politics, music, spirituality, science, nature, foreign policy, religion and obviously all aspects of the natural world. I'll never forget the night when Curt and Dianne met my entire family for the first time. Curt walked into the room and won everyone over within the first 5 minutes. We were all gathered around him, wanting to hear more and more of his stories about his life. My 5 year old niece was climbing all over him and brushing his hair. His comfortability in his own skin was like as magnet. He was one of those people who made each person feel like he was talking and listening to them specifically. He gave each member of my family special one on one time every time he was with us.
Curt was also a true artist. We had the honor of getting to have a tour of a couple of the landscape designs he created in Rochester and my admiration for him grew even more. His attention to detail and the specificity and the beauty of his work was beyond what I could've imagined. He built "secrets" and "surprises" into his designs and his designs created awe, beauty and fun for the families and companies whom he designed for.
Jen, Maya and I had the privilege to speak with Curt and Dianne via FaceTime nearly every Sunday from the beginning of Covid up until the week that he passed and I will forever think of that time as one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. Curt knew that his disease would take his life, but he faced it with a kind of bravery that I have never encountered. He was completely honest with us, he never complained about his situation, he made us feel comfortable in all of the emotions we were feeling. We could cry together, laugh together, talk about his situation or not and he was making us belly laugh all the way to the end. I am grateful every day that I met the Axen family and I will always hold the utmost reverence for Curt. We miss him terribly, but feel him around us all the time. I see him in his daughter Jen and grand daughter Maya. I will live my life trying to emulate all that I learned from him about living a life with the kind of joy, artistry, love of family, loyalty to friends and the unmatched integrity that he had. I just feel so lucky to have known Curt Axen.