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Kristina M. Gray, 62, of Crookston passed away unexpectedly Thursday, May 31, 2018 at her home. A funeral service will be held Monday, June 4, at 2:00 pm at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Crookston with Rev. Bill Reck officiating. Visitation will be Monday from 1:00 pm until the time of the service at the church. Burial will be in the Oakdale Cemetery in Crookston.
Kristina Marie Torkelson was born to Glen and Lucile (Aslakson) on August 8, 1955 in Crookston, MN. Kristina graduated from Crookston High School in 1973. She graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN in 1977. Kristina earned her master’s degree in English as a Second Language (ESL) at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities and started teaching in Minneapolis. Kristina began her world travels when she joined the Peace Corps in the Philippines. Following completion of her term with the Peace Corps, she took a job in China as an English Language Instructor. Kristina returned to the Peace Corps as a trainer in Kazakhstan. Upon receiving a Fulbright Commission, she invested her teaching talents in Kyrgyzstan. There she met Ken Gray. The couple married on Christmas Eve in 1998. While Ken had 3 children already, Kristina became a loving step-mother to his children, and eventually a step-grandmother which she really enjoyed. Following their wedding, the two joined forces, teaching in Ukraine for six years. It is during this time that Kristina formed her passion for telling stories of history.
Kristina also loved Polk County history, gardening and music. She eventually put her Polk County history research into writing, publishing two books about local people and places. Soon after, she developed a Polk County history column for the Crookston Times which was published each Friday. Kristina was very involved in the restoration of the Carnegie Library building in Crookston. Her love for music as a violinist gave her a desire to perform at church, UMC, and the Carnegie Library Building as well as singing with Crookston Women’s Chorus. She grew up attending St. Paul’s Lutheran church and at present time was a member of Valley Christian Fellowship. She was also on the board at the Polk County Historical Society and the Northern Arts Council.
Kristina is survived by her parents, Glen and Lucile Torkelson, Crookston; husband, Ken Gray, Crookston; siblings, Karen (Tony) Solgard, Cape Coral, FL; Katherine (Darrell) Majkrzak, Lino Lakes; Tony Torkelson, Lakeville; Tora (Jeff) Meyer, Eagan, and Tim (Karla Deden) Torkelson, Wausau, WI; step-children, Liam Gray, Tucson, AZ; Luke Gray, Prescott, AZ; and Laura Bolyard, Tucson, AZ, along with several nieces and nephews and countless friends from around the world.
Kristina was preceded in death by her grandparents, Ameel and Ellen Torkelson, Harold and Dagny Aslakson; aunts, Eleanor Hem, Ethel Bliven uncles, Leigh Aslakson and Emmet Olson.