Kenan Donald Isadore Virlee
The soul of Kenan Donald Isadore Virlee traveled to God on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, from his home in rural Mount Vernon, Iowa. Per his wishes, cremation has taken place. A private committal service will be at Linn Grove Cemetery in rural Mount Vernon at a later date.
Kenan was born Oct. 7, 1935, on his parents' farm in Door County, Wis. He attended Brussels Elementary School and St. Norbert's High School, where he participated in boxing and football. Kenan graduated from St. Norbert's College in De Pere, Wis., attended Marquette University, and later received a master's degree in Russian from the University of Notre Dame.
Kenan taught high school French, Latin and Russian at PreMontre High School in Green Bay, Wis., where he also served as assistant principal and athletic director. He was responsible for starting the PreMontre High School hockey and curling teams. Kenan led a group of PreMontre students in a skydiving course, and at the completion, they all successfully completed their first skydive. He also was an over-45-gallon blood donor.
In 1970, Kenan made one of the first camping excursions by an American into the Soviet Union, renting a car and traveling extensively in Russia and Central Asia. Later, when he came to Iowa, he began the Russian program at Marion High School, which became the largest high school Russian program in the state. Kenan was recognized by the Iowa Department of Education for the curriculum he developed for the four-year Russian program. He organized trips for his students to Russia and France in alternating years, beginning in 1986, and lasting through 2002. Hundreds of students were able to experience France and Russia through Kenan's efforts. He was honored as a member of the Marion Independent School Foundation Hall of Fame.
Kenan enjoyed raising livestock, especially goats. He was a member of the National Ski Patrol, liked riding his Honda Superhawk, hunting and fishing, ceramics and doing extensive travel. Kenan was a Russian scholar, received a fellowship in the National Endowment for the Humanities and amassed a large collection of Russian books and memorabilia. He was happiest on the farm where he cut and split wood, raised apples and grapes, and kept detailed journals. Kenan also took pride in maintaining and servicing all the small engines on the farm.
Kenan is survived by his wife, Gladys Olsen; son, Drew (Renee) Virlee of Mount Vernon; two grandchildren, Ingrid and Pierce; two sisters, Joan (Robert) Mott of Green Bay, Wis., and Teri Stanul of San Francisco; and many, many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by a daughter, Leah Virlee; his parents, Anna (LeGrave) and William Virlee; three sisters and two brothers-in-law, Marianne (Donald) Englebert, Madonna (Leigh) Malek and Sr. Arlene Virlee; and one brother and sister-in law, Tom (Karen) Virlee.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Marion Independent School Foundation, 675 S. 15th St., Marion, IA 52302; or a charity of donor's choice.
Please share a memory of Kenan at www.murdochfuneralhome.com under obituaries.