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Kermit Paulson 05/21/2024

Kermit Earl Paulson was born to Earl and Vida (Lee) Paulson on October 7, 1940, at the Amery Hospital in Amery, WI. He was the first born of five children, growing up on the family farm on Lake Magnor in the Township of Clayton, WI. He attended and graduated from Clayton High School as class valedictorian in 1958. It is here, and at the church both their families attended, Faith Lutheran Church, where he met the love of his life, Sharon Elayne Peterson; they began dating during high school and were married on August 26, 1961, and then moved to Minneapolis, MN.

Kermit graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis in 1962 with majors in Physics and Mathematics, and with the highest distinction of Summa Cum Laude, ranking first in his graduating class as valedictorian. Kermit then continued to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI, receiving a Master of Science in Physics in 1963, and then doing research toward experimental low-energy nuclear physics through August 1964. In fall 1964, Kermit followed his intense interest in the knowledge, learning and teaching of the sciences, beginning his distinguished teaching profession at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay as Instructor of Physics and Mathematics. He was persistently recruited and eventually accepted an offer from a mentor to return to Augsburg College in 1968 as a Professor in the Department of Physics where he was on faculty through 1986. Kermit had two sabbatical leaves during his tenure at Augsburg, first from 1976-1978 where he was with Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) in Oak Ridge, TN. During this time at ORAU, he conducted research and experimentation focused on Health Physics and Nuclear Radiation Sciences. From 1984-1986, Kermit took a second sabbatical to be a visiting Professor in the Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and decided to make the move permanent in 1986 where he remained on faculty through his retirement in 2001. Kermit’s involvement went far beyond the classroom, including service as Faculty Representative on Athletics, Departmental Chair and as an advisor toward committees. He often received recognition determined by students, including Outstanding Teacher and Faculty Member. Kermit was intensely active in numerous professional associations, including the Health Physics Society.

Since 1969, Kermit was also an active industry consultant in the areas of Applied Health Physics, Science Education, Technical Training, Publications and Technical Writing. His clients spanned industries, educational institutions, and governmental agencies; clients and benefactors included the 3M Company, NSP (today Xcel Energy), The Minnesota Department of Health and Emergency Management, ORAU, and the US-Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Kermit and Sharon were blessed with three children: Brian, Kevin, and Susan. They lived as a family in Madison, WI; Green Bay, WI; Saint Paul, MN; Oak Ridge, TN; and River Falls, WI. Sharon and his children were always Kermit’s top priority in his life. Since his birth, he was taught and been in the Lutheran faith, first by his parents, and then his Pastor who directly led to his decision toward Augsburg College. Kermit provided a lifetime of foundational stability, love, care, support, integrity, and wisdom; always attending to, and sacrificially putting their and their family’s needs above his own. He and his family enjoyed nature and the outdoors with every opportunity, including frequent camping trips, and visits to Lake Magnor, Lake Superior, and the Cranberry River at Hootin’-Scootin’ in Herbster, WI. Kermit always enjoyed fishing, boating, hunting, and family vacation car trips across the country. Extended family and close friend relationships were also a centerpiece for Kermit with prioritized time with his parents, parents-in-law, siblings, friends, and further extended family. After their retirement, Kermit and Sharon spent many years at their lake cottage at Red Cedar Lake in Mikana, WI; and had the opportunity to travel with friends and family to Hawaii, Italy, and on an Alaskan Cruise. He was a student of life and a very active learner. He was an avid reader of books and consumer of news and facts. Kermit loved watching organized sports of all types, with special focus toward his beloved Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers.

After a six-month courageous fight against several illnesses and hospitalizations, Kermit passed away peacefully at the age of 83 years on May 21, 2024. He was preceded in death by his son Brian Kermit Paulson, his parents, his father-in-law Rueben Peterson, his mother-in-law Elaine Peterson, and brother-in-law Greg Schnell.

Kermit is survived by his wife, Sharon; children, Kevin (Ann) Paulson, Susan (Jeff) Morrow, and daughter-in-law Jackie Paulson; eight grandchildren: Paige (Josh) Close, Rachel (Cole) McCardle, Bryce (Makiena) Paulson, Taylor Paulson, Matthew (Neena) Paulson, Kenzie (Drew Miller) Morrow, Max Morrow, and Maddie Morrow; eight great-grandchildren: Abel, Ames and Asa Close, Kavik and Terrance McCardle, True and Lux Paulson and Emmett Miller; brothers Ron (Colleen) Paulson, Richard (Donna) Paulson, Dale (Cathy) Paulson, and sister Karen Schnell as well as many other extended family members.

Memorial services for Kermit was held Sunday, June 2, 2024 at HOPE Lutheran Church (3337 Kingsbarn Avenue) River Falls.  Visitation began at 1:30 pm followed by the memorial service at 3:00 pm.  A reception was held immediately following the service at the Winds Of The Spirits Pavilion at HOPE Lutheran Church. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred, and can be directed to the family for use in honor of Kermit.  Arrangements are with Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services.



  • Karen (Sougstad) Richard (Physics, ’79) Posted May 29, 2024 12:03 pm

    I was so sorry to see this. Professor Paulson was one of the very special physics faculty during my time at Augsburg. My fondest memory was when he took a group of us in a van down to Oak Ridge for a 2-week course during Interim. Not only was the course work very interesting, but he also managed to take us on tours of the nearby countryside as well as a weekend excursion to Nashville. My sympathy and prayers go out to his family.

  • William Tireman Posted May 29, 2024 2:58 pm

    My sincerest condolences on the loss of Professor Paulson. Kermit is one of the reasons I decided to stick with nuclear physics when I graduated from UWRF and went to graduate school. He was tough as nails as an instructor but very fair and compassionate. I still remember many of his lectures while I prepare my own now 25 years later.

  • Bruce Bengtson Posted May 30, 2024 5:12 pm

    I remember Mr. Paulson as a wonderful physics teacher and mentor. I graduated from Augsburg in 1971 with a double major in physics and math. Mr. Paulson and professor Ted Hanwick were the reasons why I kept going in physics at Augsburg.
    May God’s blessings be on him, his family and his colleagues.

  • Roger & Verna Tweiten Posted May 31, 2024 3:35 pm

    Kerm and Sharen did so much good in their world and had such strong family convictions as well as humanitarian concerns. Our son Troy took physics from Kermit & praises the experience. We will miss his presence and send our condolences to Dear Sharon & family

  • Michael Chmelik (Augsburg Class of ’82) Posted June 2, 2024 12:56 am

    My prayers go out to Professor Paulson’s family as they mourn the loss and celebrate the life of a remarkable man. I remember Professor Paulson called me into his office in January of my sophomore year after I had taken a Modern Physics class from him in the fall. He told me, “Mike, I am not sure you know this yet”, then he did one of his characteristic pauses and finally said, “But I know it. You are a physics major.” From that point on, I was a physics major. I remember fondly some of his favorite phrases in the classroom such as, “For reasons known only unto me,” which he would interject when he would add and subtract a term in an equation or add some geometric object to a diagram. My life has been enriched and blessed by having Professor Paulson as my professor and mentor.

  • Connie Stroschein/ Naggatz Posted June 2, 2024 2:44 pm

    So sorry to hear of Kermits passing, He was a classmate that went far. I’d like to send a memorial
    for him, but need an address. We would have liked to have had a class reunion this year. A really
    Great Guy.

  • Jeff Burks Posted June 4, 2024 7:37 pm

    RIP Kermit. Wonderful memories in River Falls with being friends with my parents Patty and Jeff Burks. Fond memories of deer hunting at Hootin Scootin with Brian and Dale.

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