Karin Falkofske

Karin Falkofske, 85, died of cardiac health issues at her Knapp, Wis. home, surrounded by family Friday, April 26, 2019. She followed her husband, Noel Falkofske, who died Sept. 5, 2015.

Karin was incredibly smart and creative. She was incredibly brave. Her passion and precision, and “pickiness” was known by her many theater friends throughout her life. Her goal for each performance? Perfection! Karin directed and acted in hundreds of plays. Her kindness, and her celebration of diverse people allowed many to be not just invited, but accepted into the theater community. As she looked for new actors, she was known for walking up to strangers in the community, and asking, “Have you ever been in a play?”

Karin is survived by her son, James; and daughter, Sara; her son-in-law, Jeffrey Laikind; and her grandchildren, Ace (Anna) Laikind, and Noelle Laikind. Many of her late husband’s family became “siblings” to her as well. Noel’s surviving siblings include Gordon, Tom, and Tim Falkofske, and Donna Kinneman.

Karin was born to Frank and Astrid (Carlson) Osborne Nov. 2, 1933, as she always said, in the “worst month, of the worst year of the depression.” She was born in Minneapolis, Minn., and lived there until her 20’s.

She attended grade school and junior high there, and graduated from South High School in 1951. She was the Valedictorian of her graduating class, and received a full ride scholarship to Macalester College, which she declined, in order to go to the University of Minnesota. Her jobs allowed her to pay her own college expenses. She graduated summa cum laude with a Speech and Theater Degree in 1955, and later received her Master’s Degree in 1958 from the university as well. While working on her Master’s Degree, Karin taught English and Theater at University High School, Minneapolis. Sir Tyrone Guthrie enjoyed her direction of a production so much, he wrote her a letter of recommendation.

Karin created her own traveling theater troupe called “Theater on the Road.” This was unheard of for a woman to do in the 1960’s. She, and an immensely talented menagerie of actors, booked shows in small venues all over the Midwest. The company existed from 1961 to 1965, and when they ran out of money, they had to disband. Bain Boehlke, creator of the Jungle Theater, and Wendy Lehr, recent winner of the McKnight Award, were two of the thespians who were part of the theater on the road performers.

Karin interviewed, and was hired at University of Wisconsin Stout in the fall of 1965. She met her future husband Noel there, when he wrote a play called “One Plus One.” Karin directed this fun show about love in the springtime. The production at Stout was a hit, and after the show, they fell in love, and soon married Aug. 27, 1966. Son Jim was born in Menomonie in 1967.

Karin and Noel went to University of Oregon for Noel to work on his PhD in theater. Daughter Sara was born in Eugene, Oregon in 1968. Shortly after, they moved back to Menomonie due to financial stress, and an uncooperative advisor, who would not approve Noel’s final thesis, which would have awarded Noel his PhD.

Karin and Noel settled on the farm in Knapp in 1972. They had purchased 44 acres in the valley, and a dilapidated farm house that they spent decades rebuilding without any house plans. They both loved their own little nirvana, and the home that was unique, and created with artistic eyes.

Karin was a Speech Teacher, and Forensics Coach at Stout. When she retired, Karin enjoyed reading newspapers, magazines and catalogs, following politics, listening to classical music, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Karin and Noel spent decades working with the Menomonie Theater Guild, acting, directing, and building scenery and props. Both received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Menomonie Theater Guild for their outstanding work and commitment. After Noel’s death, “Noel’s Fund” was created to support the Theater Guild with money to complete repairs of their building. In January of 2019, repairs were happily completed, much to Karin’s excitement.

As a final gift to the world, Karin donated her body to the University of Minnesota Anatomy Bequest program for scientific research and medical education through the Bequest Program. Karin wanted to make sure to share this with others, in order continue the legacy of educating future medical staff, doctors and surgeons.

The celebration of Karin’s life will be at 2 p.m. June 15, at N7243 190th St. in Knapp at the family farm. The family will use donations to continue her legacy, and support future thespians. A yearly scholarship will be available for graduates of Menomonie High School going into this field. Karin wanted to continue to support theater after her death, because “theater is life.”

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