If you met Kurt today,

you’d be captivated by the handsome charm

and joie de vivre that has always identified him to many and also amazed at the determination and success of a man who in 2003, at 47 years of age, suffered a massive stroke that left him paralyzed on the right side and unable to speak or process language in any intelligible way.

Growing up on Long Island, New York, he spent his summers clamming and surfing. After graduating from Farmingdale college, he fled the cold winters of the Northeast and followed the surf to san Diego. For some years he worked in the building industry and then returned to school for architecture. Before his stroke, he was an associate at KPA Associates Architectural firm in San Diego.

Kurt’s post-stroke prognosis was poor.

His neurosurgeon told Kurt’s wife, Kathy, that if Kurt survived he would likely remain in a vegetable state and unable to communicate or move himself around without great difficulty. It was with great difficulty that Kathy, a San Diego schoolteacher, told their children, Derek then 17, and Kaitlin 11, that a very different dad would be coming home. It was several months of extensive rehabilitation in hospital and nursing home facilities before Kurt was wheeled home.

Not long after, Kathy would come home to find Kurt attempting to complete home improvements the he had started before his stroke. Kurt crawled into the garage to retrieve a can of paint and roller and manage with his one functioning (and not dominant) hand to pry open the can and resume painting a bedroom wall started many months before. It was not altogether surprising from a man who, in early rehabilitation, tore out tubes and refused to use a walker,

instead insisting on holding the nursing home hand rails and dragging his legs up the hallways.

Kurt returned to his art.

First drew practical things like the gate a friend would help him build, the new lighting plan for his living room, or his art studio. And then he drew for himself. He drew and painted the kinds of things that he never quite found the time to paint before his stroke: animals, people, buildings, landscapes, seascapes, and still like arrangements. Initially he worked with watercolors using a very dry brush for added control. In no time at all he was recreating what he saw with the precision and accuracy of an architect, and the beauty and grace of an artist. Kurt now often works in oil paints. This has given him much joy.

And then, inconceivably, eleven years ago Kathy dies in her sleep of an epileptic seizure.

Kathy’s death brought great sadness to a community and shock to a family that relied upon her in so many ways. it has been a long and rough road for this disabled widower and his young family, but courage and the strength of their love for one another has gotten them through many difficulties.

The damage to his brain where language resides also prevents Kurt from fully understanding what others say or write. While very determined and able, he still relies daily on friends and friends for many tasks, mostly those where language and communication are involved. Most often Kurt expresses himself with a few words, sounds, and drawings in a process that looks a lot like charades. And he paints. Everyday. Using his now-adept left hand, he holds with confidence the brush and places bit after bit of color, creating more beauty and personal joy with every brushstroke.

Buy Kurt’s merchandise by clicking the link below.