Dale E. Kukla, age 74, of Strongsville, Ohio, peacefully entered God’s kingdom on Thursday, June 18, 2020, after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis in late April. He enjoyed a life well lived with few regrets, finding ways to balance a tremendous work ethic, an unwavering dedication to his family and friends, and a healthy dose of fun and adventure along the way. Dale was a kind and friendly man, an exceptionally hard worker, a willing helper, and someone you could count on, beyond a doubt, to do the right thing and give 110% doing it.
Dale was born July 12, 1945, to the late Ben and Rose Kukla of Cleveland, Ohio. He was a proud graduate of St. Edwards High School in Lakewood, where he competed in wrestling and football. He earned his bachelor’s in electrical engineering from University of Dayton and completed his master’s at University of Akron. He began his career in the aerospace field and moved into software development and consulting services. He also taught several classes in electrical engineering to undergrads at University of Akron and published several articles on the role of technology in the manufacturing process. Dale retired as partner and senior vice president of Manufacturing Decision Support Systems in 2011.
Dale met the love of his life, Jacquelyn (Jackie, nee Ingham), in the summer of 1964. A devoted husband of 53 years, Dale is also the beloved father of Kimberly Endsley and Jeannette Gatchell (James), the dear step-grandfather of Mary Helen, and the cherished grandfather of Sydney Joyce, Ivalene Rose, and Grace Shea. He was the number-one supporter of and advocate for all of his “girls” and involved in all of their activities, from teaching them about the stars and how to swim; to cheering on their sports, recitals, and performances; to walking in the Columbus Buddy Walk for the past four years to benefit the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio. He loved and enjoyed his larger family as well. He was the treasured bother of Timothy Kukla (Georgienne) and loved uncle of Christine Kukla, Catherine Lowry (John), and Collette Kukla (Deron Stone).
While Dale’s many interests and passions included being a great BBQ griller, golfing, reading, SODOKU, and bowling—he once bowled a perfect game—he was happiest when boating the Great Lakes, especially with his first mate (Jackie) and rest of his family beside him. Dale received his captain’s license from the United States Coast Guard in 1995 and was literally at the helm of countless adventures on the Lakes. Before the days when you could simply ask Siri for directions, many of these trips were navigated the old-fashioned way with charts and a pencil. The most significant journey involved a 12-hour trip through the locks of the Welland Canal, a ship canal in Ontario, Canada, that connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. Over more than three decades of boating, Dale and his family made countless memories, with friends both old and new, that will forever be cherished.
Dale, along with Jackie, spent many of the last few winters making a road trip to Florida, visiting friends and family along the way, and escaping some of the worst of the Cleveland winters, of which Dale was not a fan. (And that’s putting it mildly). In addition to these annual sojourns, Dale planned a summer family vacation each year to Outer Banks or Myrtle Beach for his children and grandchildren to enjoy. These trips were some of his favorite traditions and some of the greatest highlights of the last several years.
Although Dale’s life ended abruptly and too soon, it was a rich life filled with accomplishment, enjoyment, and, most importantly, love. He will be sorely missed and forever remembered. In accordance with his wishes and in tribute to his many years at the helm, Dale’s ashes will be spread on Lake Erie by his family. A public celebration of life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Dale’s name are suggested to the Thomas P. Perciak Family Residential Hospice, which provided exceptional care and compassion during Dale’s final days, or to the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio, an organization near and dear to Dale’s heart.