Leslie Antoine Kucera was a lifelong carpenter and a family man.
The Circle Pines father of six was generous with his time and talents, helping family and friends with their home improvement and carpentry projects. He also loved hunting, fishing and the outdoors.
Kucera died of COVID-19 after a five-week hospital stay. He was 71.
"He was very kind," said his daughter Michele Matthews. "He had a huge heart. He was just so giving."
Kucera was born in Littlefork, Minn. He lived in International Falls as a child before moving to Minneapolis. He was a star football player at Central High School, graduating in 1967.
He was recruited to play at several colleges. Instead, he married his high school sweetheart Constance and followed his father into the family business: carpentry. He took a carpentry job at Panelcraft.
"He started as a teenager and worked there until he retired," Matthews said.
The couple settled in Circle Pines and lived there for more than four decades. Using his carpentry skills, Kucera was always helping neighbors build decks, sheds and additions to their homes.
Kucera was an hunter and fisherman.
"I remember as a kid him coming home with fish, pheasants and ducks," Matthews said. "It not only fed the family, it's also something he really loved to do."
Kucera and his wife built a log cabin near International Falls.
"He cut down all the trees himself. He and my mom spent every weekend up there," his daughter said.
Strongly influenced by his grandmother, Kucera was a man of deep faith who attended a Pentecostal church. He was a devoted father and family man, Matthews said.
"He never talked down to you," she said. "And you never wanted to disappoint him."
He was very funny, and he had a knack for turning chitchat, family happenings and even a stray word or phrase into an amusing little ditty.
"He could put every situation to a song," Matthews said.
Matthews said he was relatively healthy until contracting COVID. The family has struggled with losing him to the virus.
"It makes you really, really angry," Matthews said.
Kucera is preceded in death by his wife, Constance; parents, Edward and Anita; and sister, Marian Johnson.
He is survived by his six children, Michele Matthews, Stacia Hallin, Tanya Kucera, Kristen Netland, Edward Kucera and Josiah Kucera; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren, all of whom live in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Services have been held.