A Fund For Healing

John "Hans" Kurth's Legacy will help support veterans returning home from war

Hans Kurth in Uniform

John “Hans” Kurth was a native of Columbus, WI, where he was known for his sense of humor and his love of fishing, hunting, wrestling and football. But his true calling, since he was six years old, was to be a soldier. And after graduating from Columbus High School, Hans set out to make his dream a reality.

Hans was accepted at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, and earned a Bachelor of Science in International Relations. After graduation, he entered the 82nd Airborne Division. Hans earned many decorations during his career, and ultimately was awarded his most coveted assignment — serving as Bravo Company Commander (The Bushmasters), 1st Infantry Division.

In March 2004, less than a month after arriving in Tikrit, Iraq, the Humvee Hans was in was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED). His mission was completed that day, as he and a brother soldier lost their lives. The beloved son, brother, father, nephew, cousin, friend and soldier was gone.

Hans Kurth in Uniform

To ensure Hans’ memory lives on, his aunt Barbara Schley decided to establish a memorial fund in his honor using funds received through the estate of Hans’ grandfather, Emerson Schley. Together with Hans’ mother, Retta Kurth, she began a search to find a fitting cause to support. They wanted something that was near and dear to Hans’ heart.

The search led to a meeting with Alan Strohschein, an attorney in Columbus who also serves on the Columbus Area Endowment’s advisory committee. Alan suggested they connect with MCF. After several meetings with MCF staff, the fund became a reality in March 2022.

The Captain John “Hans” F. Kurth Memorial Fund will honor his commitment to his military “brothers and sisters” by providing support to those who have returned home as veterans needing assistance in readjusting to civilian life.

This support may entail everything from providing individual or family mental health treatment; assessing employment needs and providing retraining and vocational counseling; helping with housing needs; and assistance with reintroduction to the community, including socialization skills.

At Hans’ memorial service, one of his fellow soldiers remembered his friend, saying, “There was never a time when he didn’t lift the spirits of all those around him.” Through the Captain John “Hans” F. Kurth Memorial Fund, that legacy will continue.

Learn how to start a fund at MCF.