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Obituary of Kurt Robert Heilemann
Kurt Heilemann—wine god, curmudgeon, wicked cook, and devoted friend—died suddenly July 21, 2020, in Portland, Oregon, from a pulmonary embolism. He was 42. Kurt was a fixture on the Portland food and wine scene for 20 years, most recently as co-owner of Davenport, in Portland, where his wine program was a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2019. The real stars in Kurt's life were the people he prepared all that amazing food for, the people he emptied glasses with, his companions around campfires and dinner tables all over the country and the world--his friends. Kurt had a reputation for having no acquaintances, only friends. Whether they met Kurt in elementary school or last night at the restaurant, folks were drawn to his generosity and genuine nature. "Gruff teddy bear" is a good way someone recently put it. When he wasn't entertaining or helping friends, he was happiest in a forest, on a lake, fishing rod in hand. Kurt grew up in Glenview, Illinois, and was kind of a big deal at Glenbrook South High School. He was captain of the wrestling team, senior class president, and prom king. Kurt always stood out--not just because he was a tall and strong dude, but because he reached out. Kurt survives in all of us who shared a part of his life. He is survived by his mother, Rosemary Heilemann, of Buffalo Grove, Illinois; his sister and brother-in-law, Anne and Ted Remington, of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his father, Gary Heilemann, and his grandparents. Restrictions on large gatherings and the sudden nature of Kurt's death make it really hard to immediately plan events to toast him, but his wonderful friends are finding ways to gather in his memory and honor, and strengthen their bonds just as Kurt strengthened every group to which he belonged. Through the magic of social media, we will find ways to keep in touch about continuing celebrating life the way Kurt would want us to. Memorial contributions may be directed to Save the Boundary Waters (https://www.savetheboundarywaters.org/Commemorative-Giving) in support of a place that was very special to Kurt.