Kerry Lund and Gene Kasmar were members of HumanistsMN (then Humanists of Minnesota) before they left Minnesota in 1997. Ms. Lund died in 2020 and Mr. Kasmar in 2018. Ms. Lund’s daughter, Kristine, wrote this tribute to them.
By Kristine Lund
My mom, Kerry Lund, and her life partner, Gene Kasmar, are no longer with us in their embodied forms. They spent their last years in Oklahoma City, having left Minnesota to escape the snow. They also left behind their activist life, focusing more on gardening and traveling.
Of course, Oklahoma City is not equal to the Twin Cities when it comes to finding like-minded humanists. Although Kerry and Gene left the Midwest in 1997, Humanists of Minnesota was an important part of their activist lives. This is why I wanted to write about them here and to thank you for your organization. I and our families miss them both dearly and this is a small way to honor their memories.
My mom’s issue was overpopulation and its link to the earth’s depletion of natural resources. She was a proud supporter of Planned Parenthood. In 1995, she was invited to speak about the earth’s carrying capacity on the “Atheists Talk” television show.
As she said then, “Carrying capacity is the number of individuals a habitat can support without endangering the future social, cultural, and environmental support system….The decision is ours. We choose our population and at the moment we are choosing way past the carrying capacity for the lifestyle we wish to lead.” And it turns out that today, people are more aware of climate change. Mom was always right.
Gene’s issue was atheism and he was militant. In 1992, he famously petitioned the District 286 Board of Education to ban the Bible in the Brooklyn Center school libraries. He self-published the book All the Obscenities of the Bible. Gene did not win his case. But given that the religious right has often banned books because of what they deemed “inappropriate content,” it was humorous to see their own argument turned against them in a way they never thought possible. (Read a story about Gene’s effort.)
Gene and Kerry participated in highway cleanups with the humanists and volunteered in other ways, including for Minnesota Atheists (which awarded them both Distinguished Service Awards in 1997). One of my favorite photos of my mom is her demonstrating with the Atheists, Humanists, and Free Thinkers. That’s her, holding the sign “Atheists believe in people.” Such belief is a beautiful legacy.
Kristine Lund grew up in Minnesota, but now lives in Lyon, France, with her French husband, Yanick. They have two daughters, Taina, an architect in London, and Yasmine, who is doing a PhD in Marine Biology in Roscoff, France. Kristine directs a five-year multi-laboratory research project on the complexity of language.
Thanks for sharing more about Kerry and her partner, Gene. They sound like forward-thinking and compassionate people. Wishing you well.
Thank-you, Marcy for your kind words!
I have on my wall the original Governor Proclamation Gene Kasmar asked and successfully attained the following: Whereas:
Freethinkers, humanists, skeptics, atheists and agnostics all have made major contributions in various fields of science, law, medicine, art and government and
Whereas: Recognition and entitlement to the same rights, opportunities, benefits and obligations are inalienable and guaranteed to all citizens. Signed by Governor Anre Carlson and Secretary of State Joan Growe March 1, 1991.
Gene crossed out “In the year of our lord” Gene did this on his own and let all of us know latter when it was signed. At the time the State provided color certificate and Gene sent me the framed certificate after he moved to Oklahoma so it would stay in Minnesota and be remembered.
I didn’t know about this, that’s so great! We were expecting our first child at the time and I somehow missed this news. Would you be willing to send me a photo by e-mail? I would love to see it ! –> kristines.lund “at” gmail “dot” com (I’m dating myself as writing emails like this used to stop the bots…)
Yes, I will take a photo and send it to you.