Larry & Tess Kunz
1934~2013 / 1935~2013
Holladay, Utah-Larry Poulsen Kunz was the cherished only son born to Joseph John Kunz and Ethel Poulsen October 3,1934 in Paris, Idaho. Although he was an only child he grew up in large extended families with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins he dearly loved. He was fondly nicknamed "Lad". He played the clarinet, was football quarterback, class president and class valedictorian in Montpelier, Idaho. His playground was the rural backcountry of southern Idaho. He was lively, rambunctious and highly intelligent. He thumbed his way from Idaho to Provo, Utah where he attended Brigham Young University for two years until he was called to the California North Mission. He served there until he returned home to marry his sweetheart M. Tess Clayton in the Logan Temple December 17, 1954. They moved to Salt Lake City where he was hired as a bagger for Maurice Warshaw of Grand Central Stores. For 22 years he worked hard, earning his way to many responsible positions including Chief Merchant, Chief Operations Officer, and Vice President before he was recruited by General Mills to be the CEO of Lee Wards Creative Crafts, Inc. He was an innovator in business. Working with the sign shop at Grand Central Stores he pioneered picture style holiday door buster advertisements. He designed a specialty store concept, specifically for office supplies, before they actually existed. He returned to his origins where he facilitated the merger of Grand Central with The Fred Meyer Co. Additionally he served as CEO of Ben Franklin Retail Stores, Inc, then finally COO and CEO of Payless Cashways Inc. In all these ventures he revitalized and built each company into strong, solvent, expanding businesses. He took Payless Cashways Inc. public in1993 and understood early on the need to work with a foreign labor force. He negotiated with companies in Mexico to work fairly and keep product affordable to customers. He was elected to the Board of Directors for several companies including Coast to Coast Stores and Chromecraft Revington Inc. He also served on the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City. He was a student of financial markets and a wise practitioner. Larry was an outdoorsman. His recollections were often of youthful years filled with hunting and fishing excursions with father and uncles. Throughout his life, spring and fall were oriented around hunting. He found some of his closest friends through their common love of the outdoors. His favorite movie was Jeremiah Johnson. He served in the LDS church with responsibilities in scouting, Elders quorum presidencies, and bishoprics. He was a gifted teacher. His method reflected his insight about how to learn, his endless curiosity, and his passion for education. He once confided he "couldn't wait to be a father". His successful career did not detract from the true family man that he was. He was the planner of Christmas, vacations, and educational opportunities for his family. Ever a devoted father, it was never truer of anyone that the most important thing a man could do for his children was to love their mother. Larry and Tess were romantic, dedicated and true in their love for each other from the time they met and fell in love. His first recollection of Tess was of her walking across the H.S. football field away from him in her pep club uniform. His devotion was absolute. He chose her always over everything else, staying right by her in the worst of times as well as the best of times. It was ever thus to the very end.
Mildred Tess Clayton was the second of three daughters born to Robert Price Clayton and Mildred Eliza Thomas April 2,1935 in Montpelier Idaho. The daughter of school teachers, she went to school right along with her parents who were her teachers through the 8th grade. She grew up in rural Idaho where she skated on the frozen pond behind their house, skied on skis her dad made, loved stray pet cats and pitched baseball. She came from hardworking Mormon pioneer stock who valued honesty, thrift and family. And she retained these values throughout her life. She was a pianist, an artist and favored pencil drawings. She played the oboe in the high school band and was a member of the choir and pep club. She was naturally gifted at making friends. She was president of her sophomore class and served on many committees. It was on one of these committees that she met her sweetheart Larry P. Kunz. As a junior she served as Student Body Secretary and was valedictorian of her 1953 Montpelier High graduating class. She attended Idaho State College where she was a member of Spurs, a service organization, based on scholarship and leadership. She was a class officer and a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. She remained at college until she married Larry. Although she worked for periods as a secretary and medical assistant her primary occupation as wife and mother made the lives and accomplishments of her husband and three children possible. She said she always wanted to be a mother. She was stylish, trim, immaculate and an artist in her home and surroundings. She was personal, direct, intuitive and thoughtful of others. She would look you in the eye, ask questions and listen with sincere interest to all you had to say. She was an excellent conversationalist. She could draw people out, and had a way of making them feel they were the most special and loved. She was cheerleader, chauffeur and financier to the kind of shopping trips where you might get a little something of your hearts desire. Tess loved each one dearly. Her thoughts and gifts were tailored by her keen observations. She followed her husband arross the country in his various jobs and made a home wherever they were. She was organized in every detail. She served in LDS church callings including Sunday School and primary pianist, and twice as Relief Society Secretary. She served on several PTA boards in her children's school years. In retirement they practiced their knowledge of horticulture and created magical gardens. They shared a love for the outdoors.
They are survived by three children: Debra K.Swofford (Scott), Jill K Stratton (Shane), Larry P. Kunz II (Callie), 9 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held for invited friends and family on Wednesday November 20 Flowers or gifts to charity will be accepted by Jenkins-Soffe.
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Published by Deseret News on Nov. 17, 2013.