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Dean Richard (Dean Reynolds) Kukuk

1925 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Dean Richard (Dean Reynolds) Kukuk Obituary
May 19, 1925 - January 29, 2018 Dean Reynolds, born Dean Richard Kukuk, May 19, 1925 in Volga, South Dakota. Shortly afterwards his parents took him, his four brothers and one sister to Sioux City, Iowa, where he grew up. He is a direct ascendant of John Quincy Adams. As a small boy, Dean showed great interest in things artistic. In between three broken noses suffered by typical schoolboy rough-housing and flailing fists on the corner of the street, he enjoyed rearranging the furniture in his parents' home and the homes of his buddy's. Invariably the rooms looked much the better because of his instinctive good taste, sense of color, and flair for the spectacular which keynotes his work portfolio. At the age of 14 Dean ran away from his home and hitchhiked to Los Angeles, having to sleep under billboards on Wilshire Boulevard. He got a job as a porter in a restaurant near the Lockheed Aircraft plant. He spent a great deal of time riding buses and streetcars in the residential sections of the city studying the homes he passed. He familiarized himself with the myriad architectural styles which grace our streets. After a year and a half his parents persuaded him to return to Sioux City. The next year he spent living at the YMCA and attending Central High School. Next Dean joined the Navy and as seaman first class spent the next two years in Farragut, Idaho. At the time of his honorable discharge, he was a Naval Air Cadet. Back in civilian clothes he again was lured to California and the next year and a half worked as traffic manager for the west coast division of the Donut Corporation of America in San Francisco. To supplement his income he worked part time for the Red Cross making donuts for the returning troops on ships crowding the harbor. in 1948 he returned to Los Angeles and had a whirl at being an actor. He studied under John Morley, was tested for the roll of Terry in the "Terry and the Pirates" picture which Sam Goldwyn made, but decided that acting was not his first choice for a career. He rented an apartment and decorated it to suit him. One day a woman saw the apartment and liked what she saw and commissioned Dean to redecorate her home. This first successful venture cinched his deep underlying desire to be a designer/decorator. In his first serious step in this direction he became a painting contractor for the famous Barbara Baroness MacLean. When one of her associated decorators who was doing a clients house became ill, Dean stepped in and finished the job. His next decision was to open his own shop on La Cienega Boulevard. For the next six years he successfully remodeled, decorated, and redecorated the homes of many famous theatrical figures and society leaders. Then he moved his shop to Westwood Village and stayed there two years. Another move toward success was to buy a business building on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. He moved his shop to this location. To name just a few of his many pleased clients, there are: Walter Pigeon, Olga San Juan, Diana Lynn and Hortimor Hall, Ben Blue, Mr. and Mrs. Martin Arrouge (Norma Shearer), Les Baxter, Al Mathis, John Frankenheimer, and Stephen Crane. Dean Reynolds' name is synonymous with glamour, exquisite taste, daring innovation, and complete divorcement from the dull ware-worn conventional paths of the decorating world. As he puts it: "Anyone can take a good house and put beautiful things into it; the real challenge of the designer-decorator is a problem house, its defects, etc., and turn it into a place of livable beauty." His brilliant and always spectacular exhibits at the yearly decorator shows were always eagerly anticipated. Dean attracted people from all walks of life. He studied braille just to be able to communicate with afflicted friends. He was a shrewd businessman as well as an artist, a rare combination. Dean was preceded in death by his parents Arthur Kukuk and Grace Reynolds Kukuk, sister Verna Mae Aspleaf, and brothers Orel and Robert Kukuk. He is survived by his partner of 52 years Robert Wilson (married November 8th, 2008) and brother Don of Sun City, Arizona, niece Lisa Kukuk of Idaho, nephew Craig Kukuk of Arizona, nieces Cathie Mahrt and Laurie Anfinson of Sioux City, Iowa, nephews Robert Jr., Larry, Kirk, and Brad Kukuk (all of Sioux City Iowa), Cindy Blanchard of Sheriden, Wyoming, and Marty Kukuk of Lincoln, Nebraska, Candy Zook of Marian, Indiana, Dan Aapleaf of North Souix City, South Dakota, and Kimmy Freissen.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 8, 2018
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