Kermit Paulson



Kermit Earl Paulson was born to Earl and Vida (Lee) Paulson on Oct. 7, 1940, at the Amery Hospital in Amery, Wis. He was the first born of five children, growing up on the family farm on Lake Magnor in the Township of Clayton, Wis. 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 Aug. 26, 1961, and then moved to Minneapolis.

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, 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, Tenn. 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, Wis.; Green Bay, Wis.; Saint Paul, Minn.; Oak Ridge, Tenn.; and River Falls, Wis. Sharon and his children were always Kermit’s top priority in his life. Since his birth, he was taught and had 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, Wis. 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, Wis.; 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 will be held Sunday, June 2, 2024 at HOPE Lutheran Church (3337 Kingsbarn Ave.) River Falls. Visitation will begin at 1:30 p.m. followed by the memorial service at 3 p.m. A reception will be 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.