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Stephen Kaminski 07/24/2023

Stephen John Kaminski, age 69, unexpectedly passed away in an accident on July 24th, 2023. He meant so much to so many people, and will continue to live on through his family, his friends, his mentees, the music he made and his work. Words cannot do his memory justice.

Steve was born on August 24th, 1953 in Evergreen Park, Illinois to Joseph and Marie Kaminski. He was the youngest of four children. His childhood years were filled with memorable (and often mischievous) experiences with his friends from the neighborhood (95th and Kedzie), as well as weekends at his grandparents’ farm near Culver, Indiana.

When Steve was 13, he tragically lost his mother to a brain tumor – a loss that would have a lasting impact.

In the late 1960’s, he went on to explore the country west of the Mississippi with his friends, eventually following his brother Mike to River Falls, WI in the early 1970’s. River Falls became his home and he began to build countless friendships, a family and a career – all of which became his pride and joy over the years.

Steve struggled with alcohol and addiction into his twenties, and eventually achieved lasting recovery through the fellowship and support of the AA program. Steve followed the 12-step program with humilty for more than 42 years, and helped many others on their path to recovery. Steve’s family will be forever grateful for his commitment to recovery and growth.

The stability he worked for created a foundation for the next chapter of his life. He met his wife-to-be, Sarah at a poker game in 1978 and they were married in 1981. They were blessed with a beautiful family that has grown to include four grandchildren. Steve generously filled their lives with love, joy and an appreciation of the outdoors. Steve and Sarah loved hiking, biking and exploring together, and all their time spent with family. They also enjoyed checking out live music, locally, but also in Chicago and wherever they traveled.

Steve was an exceptional blues harmonica player – he was so talented, and he played straight from his heart and soul. In his late teens, he hitchhiked from place to place with a harmonica in hand, learning to play his favorite tunes. In 1980, being newly sober with a growing family and career, he steered clear of the bar scene which brought his playing to a halt. In 2005, Ky and Taylor gave him a Green Bullet microphone for his birthday and his passion for playing was reignited. Steve sang and practiced on his harp every day, especially in recent years. Most often, he would accompany the Back Channel Blues Band and the Howard “Guitar” Luedtke and Blues Max bands on stage, both of which he loved. He also had so many fun and memorable gigs with other musician friends.

When it came to work, drywall was Steve’s calling. He started his career in the union, working mostly on commercial jobs in the Twin Cities. After a handful of years on the job, he decided it was time to go into business for himself. He took a leap of faith and started KT Drywall as owner and operator. He quickly gained a reputation for the quality of his craft and made a career out of word-of-mouth recommendations for his services. Often regarded as an ‘artist’ in the trade, watching him tape and mud was mesmerizing.

Steve and Sarah welcomed their first son, Silas in 1984. Silas developed health issues and sadly passed away at four days old. Two years later, they welcomed their son Ky, followed by another son Taylor in 1988. Steve was a very loving and involved dad. He enjoyed throwing the ball around in the yard, coaching their little league teams, and taking the boys fishing whenever possible. Sunday drives and road trips were some favorite family activities, creating memories his family will always hold close.

Nothing brought Steve more joy than being a grandpa. With four grandkids in the span of four years, Steve embraced and enjoyed the chaos! He was always smiling and wasn’t afraid to be the silly Grandpa. There were many park days and wagon rides around town, as well as quiet moments and cuddles. He will be missed immensely by his family.

Steve lived a full life, taking care of himself and others. He enjoyed his daily rituals, which included coffee, going for a run and so much more. He valued time with friends from all paths in his life. He found happiness in what each day had to offer.

Steve is survived by his wife of 42 years, Sarah, his sons Ky (Lauren) and Taylor (Steph), and his grandchildren, Eli, Brynn, Rhys and Kellen, his stepmother Shirley and his brother Joe (Janet). He is preceded in death by his infant son, Silas, his mother, Marie, his father, Joseph, his brother Mike and his sister Teresa.

A celebration of Steve’s life was held at Juniors in River Falls on Friday, September 8th from 3-7 pm, with a memorial service beginning at 3:30pm – music and fellowship followed the service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Arrangements are with Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services.


Click here to watch Steve’s memory sharing service from September 8th at 3:30pm


  • Janet Wallace Posted August 19, 2023 9:23 am

    My deepest sympathy to all his family. He was a great guy & will be missed by many.

  • Carole Mottaz Posted August 19, 2023 9:46 pm

    I’ve known Steve for over 30 years, since before he was married. He has always been a gentle soul. It will be so sad without him.

  • Val Posted August 20, 2023 7:06 pm

    I have many great memories of my time spent hanging out with Steve. He was a gentle soul with such a warm heart. A supremely sweet guy!!
    My heart goes out to his wife and family. Rest in peace Furball! .

  • Sonya A Conroy Posted August 21, 2023 10:00 pm

    My sweet nephew. You will be terribly missed. Even though I didn’t see you often, like you always said, I was in your radar.
    This was so beautifully written, really summed up his live. My deepest condolences to Sarah and the boys.

  • Angela Kaiser Posted August 22, 2023 8:24 am

    I’m so very sad to hear about this great loss. Steve was the kindest man I’ve ever met. I loved watching his love for his family and for life in general. Hugs to all of you.

  • Auntie Joanie Posted August 22, 2023 9:07 am

    Oh, they rejoicing and joy on the day that Stevie was born! And yes, Steve would say,’ auntie Joanie, you are the only one who can call me, Stevie!‘!. Stevie kept our family connected, by visiting brother Jack in Arizona and stopping to see us on his way back from visiting his dad in California. We were looking forward to getting together with Steve at Sonya‘s home, at our new home in Peoria, or on the farm. Guess we will have to wait until we meet in heaven. Thank you Jesus for that help! Stevie has left a hole in our hearts, but has left us with so many beautiful memories and precious grandchildren to carry on his legacy. We love you Stevie!

  • Tina Mahoney Posted August 22, 2023 11:43 am

    Praying for your whole family Sarah! May the wonderful memories and love in your hearts sustain you all until you meet again! Blessings for strength and comfort to you all now and always.

  • Edna Early Posted August 22, 2023 11:46 am

    Steve, was a one of a kind gentle man. He was a giver and so talented musically. It is hard to imagine the world with out him and his love for all people. We are saddened beyond. We send lots of love, prayers and hugs to Sarah, Ky, Taylor, Lauren and Stephanie…plus the four amazing grandkids. We are here for you now and in the future. Love you all! Denny and Edna

  • Wendy Hill Posted August 22, 2023 8:54 pm

    Sarah, Ky, Taylor and family, We are so saddened to hear of Steve’s sudden passing and can only imagine the pain that all of you are going through. Although we did not know Steve well, comments and condolences of those who did reflect our thoughts exactly. He was a kind and sincere person. May your hearts be comforted by the fact that he touched so many people in this way.
    Wendy and Tony Hill

  • Jim and Linda Madsen Posted August 24, 2023 8:48 am

    What a great picture that embodies all that is described about the man Steve was and the life he lived. So sorry for the loss. He will be deeply missed by us all.

  • Rose Walker Posted August 24, 2023 9:12 am

    Thinking of you Sarah, sons and family and today being Steve’s birthday. Steve was a role model, a man to be proud of in so many ways. Sending you comfort and peace in this time of great loss.

  • Ruth Emerson Posted August 24, 2023 11:43 am

    Steve and I became friends through racquetball and also sobriety. Later, it became known that he was a longtime friend of my late husband Steve Emerson (Bow or Spider) who he played music with. Steve K told me a cute story about how Bow was the only member of the band that had a job and owned his own equipment! He said he always felt compassion that Bow had to get up and go to work after a late night. I enjoyed our times playing racquetball, and Steve made a point of visiting during and after my husband’s illness. I bet they are playing up a storm in heaven right now! He will be missed by all who knew him- my heart goes out to the family and may you be blessed with God’s peace until you meet up once again.

  • Dan Semi Posted August 25, 2023 4:13 pm

    Steve was an awesome guy! My heart goes out to the family! I’m blessed to have known him and have many great conversations! I will miss the celebration of life as we are traveling, though my thoughts and memories abound.

  • Wayne Thomas Owen Posted September 26, 2023 10:42 am

    Very shocked when I heard about the loss of Steve. He was a great friend and great musician. Loved playing with him! My sympathy for your loss to the Family, God be with you all.

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