Details set for Supervisor Kurt Friese's funeral

Event to be held at Englert Theatre

Owner Kurt Friese at Devotay in Iowa City on May 4, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Owner Kurt Friese at Devotay in Iowa City on May 4, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Friends and family will gather this week to remember Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese.

Emergency crews responded to a medical call at Friese’s home Friday morning but once they arrived, they determined the 54-year-old had already died. A well-known chef and longtime restaurateur, Friese was serving his first term as supervisor.

A visitation is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Coralville, 2355 Oakdale Road. On Saturday, a celebration of life will be held from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., Iowa City.

Friese and his wife, Kim McWane Friese, were owners of Devotay, a restaurant in downtown Iowa City for 21 years. In his obituary, written by author Elissa Altman, Friese was remembered as passionate about food and helping others.

“He moved with grace and ease from the restaurant pass to his home kitchen, his oasis, where he did magical things with the most mundane of ingredients simply by treating them the way he treated everything and everyone: tenderly, kindly and with respect,” Altman wrote in Friese’s obituary.

The cause of Friese’s death has not been released, though authorities do not suspect foul play. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death, officials said Friday.

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert, Recorder Kim Painter and Treasurer Tom Kriz will now have to convene a committee to decide whether to hold a special election or appoint someone to serve out the remainder of Friese’s term, which lasts through 2020.


Johnson County released a statement on social media Monday morning about Friese’s death, saying the supervisor was a “community-minded leader.”

“He was passionate about improving the well-being of everyone in Johnson County and worked hard to make our county a better place for all people. He was kind, compassionate and treated everyone with respect,” according to the statement. “Kurt was well-liked and respected by Johnson County employees and we will deeply miss him.”

Supervisor Mike Carberry told The Gazette on Friday that Friese was one of his best friends and said they consulted on each other’s campaigns. Carberry said Friese was passionate about preserving farmland, preventing urban sprawl and supporting progressive politics, among other issues.

“The most I could say about Kurt is that he walked the walk,” Carberry said. “If he said it, he believed it and he lived it. He will be greatly missed.”

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