Larry and Tess Kunz
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.
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by Deseret News on Nov. 17, 2013.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
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29 Entries
I worked for Larry at Grand Central for several years. He was such a great person. I had total respect for him and for his ability to work with people - and for his unfaltering love and devotion for Tess. We lost 2 wonderful people.
Carol Peterson
November 26, 2013
Larry and Tess epitomized lives well lived, having made this world a better place through their example, friendship, care and compassion
Ron Butler
November 21, 2013
Dear Larry, Callie & family:

Please know our thoughts and prayers are with all of you at this time of great loss. We were privileged to know your parents in Elgin, IL, and always appreciated our interactions with them.

Your mother's talents were a wonderful combination with those of your father, who we had more frequent interaction with. I personally appreciated the leadership and interactions with your father at Lee Wards. He was ALWAYS a gentleman and a gentle man, even in challenging business situations, and led as much by example as by word. He stood out from other business leaders I have known, as one who always had the bearing and aura of a humble leader--one you could trust to follow with no hidden agenda. Despite his heavy workload, he took time for the small things, such as leaving a brief note on my desk about a small success. His time reaching out to interact with individual employees was a true hallmark of his business leadership, and even more a reflection of the person he was outside of a business setting.

While both of them will be greatly missed, the memories they created will continue on as their combined legacy.

Our thoughts are with each of you.
Charleen & Eric Doman
November 20, 2013
I worked at LeeWards and knew Larry. He was always kind and helpful to everyone. May him and his wife rest in peace. Thoughts and prayer to the families.
November 20, 2013
Debra, Jill & Larry Jr., my thoughts and prayers are with you at this very sad time. I was your Dad's secretary from 1973 until he left for Lee Ward. He is someone I admired so very much. I have worked for a few and your Dad is the only one that if your Mother called, NO MATTER what he was doing, he took her call. They will be greatly missed. God bless you all.
Clara Lee (Frew) Benson
November 19, 2013
I have heard many wonderful stories about Larry and how kind and gentle he was and how he always put eveyone else first. The bond him and my mother shared was very special. My thoughts and prayers go out to Larry and Tess and their families at this difficult time. Scott Leslie Martin, youngest son of Sandra Kunz Martin, grandson of Leslie Kunz.
Scott Martin
November 19, 2013
Larry & Callie, We are so sorry for your loss. You are in our thoughts and prayers. We love you. Gene & Laura Pranger
Laura Pranger
November 19, 2013
In a world where people change spouses as easily as a new pair of shoes, how wonderful to read an obituary of two such devoted and amazing spouses.
I remember them as young and vibrant as classmates, but had no idea of their outstanding lives.
It must be some comfort, that they are still together, although it is twice as difficult for the family who love them.
Blessings to the family.
Janell Dunn/Nichols
November 19, 2013
I visited with Tess in July regarding our 60 year class reunion. It was fun to reminisce and recall fun and common bonds that held us together. Larry was in my Sunday School class in 2nd ward in Montpelier and was loved by all who knew him. Both of them were extremely bright and talented. My love and sympathy is extended to their families as I'm sure are also extended by the many members of our class of '53 who have contacted me this past few days.
Winnie Mae Wright Freeman
November 19, 2013
Jill and family we are so sorry to hear of your loss. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Susan & Kevin Potter
November 18, 2013
Larry & Tess are the grandparents of our daughter-in-law. But, by the way they treated us, you would have thought they were our parents or best friends. Their love and concern for us was sincere and deeply appreciated. We always enjoyed and were inspired by our visits with them. We will sorely miss them.
Doug & Jennette Nielsen
November 18, 2013
We feel fortunate to have known Larry and Tess as both mentors and friends. Our sympathy goes out to Debbie, Jill, Larry and their families.
John and Suzy McKeever
November 18, 2013
All our thoughts and prayers are with Jill and the entire family.
Jerry Pena
November 18, 2013
I was sad to hear of Larry's passing. I worked with him at Grand Central and found him to always be a thoughtful and helpful man. My heart goes out to his family.
Marrdy Baxter-Goehring
November 18, 2013
Jill, I am so sorry to hear about your parents. I know how close you were to them and how much you loved them. I can't even imagine your pain. Please let me do anything I can to help or comfort you and your family.

Love you Jill,
Debbie Morgan
November 18, 2013
How I loved helping Larry and Tess with there computers. I first met them 7 years ago and enjoyed getting to know them in there home. They always were so kind and generous to me asking how I was doing even remembering my kids names. They even remembered me at Christmas and so forth. My life was so richly blessed by seeing them being kind and loving towards each other. I will miss them,
Sincerely with love
Eric Goeller
November 17, 2013
Our thoughts and prayers go out to your entire family at this difficult time and the loss of these two wonderful people. I always so admired and appreciated Larry and Tess as I grew up in the old Holladay 16th ward. They were so loved and appreciated by everyone.
Cory and Deanna Wall
November 17, 2013
Larry was a friend, mentor and fellow director with me. I will never forget him and his wise words and his stories of his times with Tess. May they both rest in peace.
Ted Mullett
November 17, 2013
It is so sad to hear of Larry and Tess's passing. I consider Larry a true friend and mentor. There were wonderful experiences with Grand Central that will never be forgotten. He took me under his wing and taught me true, honest principles. May God truly bless them.
Jim Oliver
November 17, 2013
Debbie and Scott,
Our love and support to both of you in this difficult time. May the Lord bring peace to your souls.
Dallas and Lois Beckstead
November 17, 2013
What a beautiful tribute. Their accomplishments and love story leave much to be desired in one's own life. I am so sorry for your loss. May God help you to feel whole and move forward with the knowledge of their eternal happiness. God bless.
November 17, 2013
Jill my heart goes out to you and your family. If you need anything at all, even a shoulder, please know I am there for you as you have always been there for me. My thoughts and prayers are with you my dear friend.
Cheryl Burton
November 17, 2013
I first met Larry in 1960 when I began working at Grand Central Stores. Throughout my career at Grand Central, Larry on more than one occasion helped me through some difficult times. I was also fortunate enough to go to LeeWards with him in 1977. His loss will be with me for some time.
Steven Anderson
November 17, 2013
Larry was a great mentor to me at LeeWards, Grand Central, and Fred Meyer. I learned so much from him about leadership and true compassionate Customer service. I saw his quiet, gentle, kind wise leadership time and again in the most trying and difficult situations. Larry was a great leader and a true gentleman. He was always thanking those who worked so hard. He understood people and he knew what made them tick because he made the effort to know them as people--their hopes and dreams and their families. And Tess was a kind sweet angel. She was so good to us in Elgin when our twins were born when we were so alone and needed help. Larry and I communicated just three weeks ago and he seemed his same ol' self; I'm so sorry I didn't know about any problems. May Father in Heaven bless the family in this hard time as you miss them. Gordon & Sandy Wilson
Gordon & Sandy Wilson
November 17, 2013
Debbie, Jill and Scott: I'm so sorry for your terrible loss and send huge hugs to you all.
Mary Amanda Fairchild
November 17, 2013
Thinking and praying for your family. It is so hard to lose those we love so much. May God bless all of you during this hard time.
Brenda Peterson Turnbow
November 17, 2013
A sad day for the family and for those who knew Larry and Tess. An absolutely wonderful couple. I knew Tess but not well, Larry was primarily a business associate while he was at GC. Larry was a straight shooter, a very, very smart man, great merchandiser and all around regular guy. Thanks Larry for all of the help and guidance that you gave me.
Ken Mears
November 17, 2013
I worked at Lee Wards and always remembered Larry to be a bright motivating leader who inspired loyalty and rewarded the same. I am saddened by his loss and that of his lovely wife.
Jack Martin
November 17, 2013
That Larry "...chose her always over everything else, staying right by her in the worst of times as well as the best of times [and] It was ever thus to the very end" says it all in a very tender and beautiful way. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Tess and Larry's family, at this difficult time that your hearts and souls may be blessed with peace and comfort. With love and best wishes, Paul-Anthon Nielson, Erlenbach im Simmental, Switzerland (son of Lula Kunz Nielson, the youngest sister of Larry's grandfather, William J. Kunz)
Paul-Anthon Nielson
November 17, 2013
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