Michael Lee Kropp, age 49, died peacefully on April 2, 2017 at home surrounded by his wife, children, and parents. Michael’s adventure on this earth has ended, and he is now experiencing his greatest adventure ever!
Michael was born on February 1, 1968 in Albert Lea, Minnesota to Don and Judy (Clark) Kropp. He was the first of three sons. Michael spent his growing up years in Albert Lea. He participated in track and field (competing in the 100 meter dash at the State Meet), band, and church choir. He was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith in Albert Lea, and volunteered as a Sunday School teacher. Mike graduated from Albert Lea High School in 1986. He spent several summers working as a counselor at the Albert Lea Summer Science Program at Itasca State Park.
After high school Mike attended Winona State University. He worked as a Resident Assistant in the residence halls, was a member of the Track and Field team, was involved in “Koinonia”, a musical campus ministry group, and met his future bride. Michael graduated from WSU in 1990 with a B.S. in Paralegal.
Michael moved to the Twin Cities and worked as a paralegal, first as an intern at Hauer & Fargione, and then at Foster, Waldeck, Lind & Gries for five years. While working as a fulltime paralegal, Michael decided that teaching just might be his calling, so he took weekend college classes at Augsburg College and earned his secondary social studies education licensure in 1995.
In 1992 Michael married Kristi Swanson, originally from Ivanhoe, Minnesota. They were blessed with two amazing children, Connor Lee (a senior at Wabasha-Kellogg) and Rachel JoyceAnn (a 5th grader). These two gave Michael his favorite job -- being Dad!
Michael’s decision to become an educator was one of the best choices he ever made! Michael began his teaching career with a long-term subbing job in Windom, Minnesota in the fall of 1995. He soon found out the classroom was exactly where he belonged! His first permanent teaching job began in January of 1996 in the Glenville-Emmons High School, where he taught for eight years. Mike and Kristi lived in nearby Albert Lea, where they bought their first house (and Mike became quite the willing home-remodel-do-it-yourselfer!), where Connor was born, and where they immersed themselves in both the Albert Lea and Glenville communities. Life was good!
But they found out life could be good in other places as well when Michael accepted a teaching position at Wabasha-Kellogg High School in 2003. Michael taught high school social studies at W-K for 13 years. He also devoted much time and energy to building the W-K Track and Field team as their head coach for 13 years.
At both of his schools, Mr. Kropp was a busy guy! Besides coaching track and field, he also coached a little volleyball and football, served as co-president of Education Minnesota at GE, served as advisor for prom, student council, and multiple winning Stock Market Game teams, coordinated a local History Day event, helped initiate the first staff/student Talent Show event, and was on too many staff committees to count! He enjoyed coordinating and chaperoning adventures for students at both schools over the years: canoeing on the St. Croix River, Twin Cities, Wisconsin Dells, Washington DC, New York City, Christikon Bible Camp in Montana, Costa Rica, and most recently, the Dominican Republic, where it was his privilege to work with the staff and students on W-K’s first international service learning trip.
It was important to Mike to live, work, and be involved, all in the same community. He was an active member of Faith Lutheran Church where he mentored confirmation students, participated in Lenten skits, and served on church council, the worship committee, and the endowment committee. He served on the board of the Wabasha Public Library. He also worked on the Home and Garden Show committee, as well as local fun run committees. Ironically, he also worked on the committee for the very first American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Freeborn County way back in 2003.
In April of 2010, Michael was diagnosed with brain cancer (grade 4 oligoastrocytoma). He was blessed with a surprising amount of normalcy, and embraced life and all it had to offer during the seven years since then with his new mantra: Keep living life one adventure at a time! He was in his classroom as much as possible, where he strived to make connections, be a positive force, and encourage his students to welcome change and challenge, to think outside the box, and to solve problems. He also made lots of awesome memories with his family and friends during this time: family vacations to Florida (for Connor and Rachel’s first flights and steps into the ocean!), Arizona, and northern Minnesota; camping, hiking, and sandbar excursions; a Tough Mudder, a Triathalon, and a Spartan Race; weekends at the cabin; Las Vegas with friends; and being Connor and Rachel’s biggest fans at their many activities.
Mr. Kropp was unable to return to his beloved teaching career this past fall. Since that time he has been cared for with much love by his wife and parents. He and his family have been blessed beyond measure by the steadfast support of family, friends, and community.
Many people are blessed to have shared Michael’s life: his wife, Kristi and children Connor and Rachel of Wabasha, parents, Don and Judy Kropp of Albert Lea, brother and sister-in-law, Jeff and Shari Kropp and family of Owatonna, brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Heather Kropp and family of Stewartville, aunts and uncles, Linda and Jim Horn of Havre de Grace, MD, Dick and Gerri Kropp of Sioux Falls, SD, and cousins, Alisa and Marty Czachor and family of Newton Square, PA, Steve and Amy Kropp and family of Pierre, SD, Gregg and Amber Kropp and family of Brainerd, MN, his in-laws, Ken and Margaret Swanson of Ivanhoe, and Kristi’s extended family, who couldn’t have loved him more if birth rather than marriage had brought them together. Mike will also be missed by many dear friends, fellow staff members, and students.
He is preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Joe and Bernyce Clark, his paternal grandparents, Ed and Evelyn Kropp, his uncle, Jim Clark, and Kristi’s mom, Joyce Swanson.
A service to celebrate his life will be held on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 11:00am at Faith Lutheran Church in Wabasha with the Reverend David Knox officiating. Interment will take place on Sunday, April 9, 2017 at Graceland Cemetery at 4:00pm in Albert Lea with the Reverend John Holt officiating. Family and friends may call at Faith Lutheran Church on Friday, April 7, 2017 from 4-8pm. A time of sharing remembrances will commence at 8pm. The family prefers memorials.