Denise Ann Kurki Meyer passed away in Hudson, Wisconsin on February 22nd, 2023. Denise was viewed by those who knew her to be "brilliant" in every sense of the word and was deeply loved by many family and friends. She devoted everything she had to her family (daughter, Raina; son, Cole; and husband, Kurt) and loved her children with truly astonishing strength. Denise had been battling intense physical and mental health struggles for some time before her death, and tragically, she succumbed to her struggles with mental illness on February 22nd. This came as an intense shock to all who knew her because of her otherworldly ability to bring light to any circumstance. She was charismatic, incredibly funny, and had beauty, both inside and out, that radiated from her very core. She led a life that was nothing short of extraordinary, and although her greatness cannot be expressed in simple words, one can try.
Denise was born on March 13th, 1967, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to John and Claudia Kurki. She was the first person in her family to attend college after graduating from the Northwestern School District in Maple, Wisconsin. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 1991, where she studied abroad in both Spain and Puerto Rico. She also completed an honors thesis in psychology and a fellowship for the National Science Foundation. In her twenties, she trained for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as a velodrome racer, and she was an avid biker, skier, kayaker, and hiker her entire life. In 1996, she married Kurt Meyer of St. Paul. Together, they built a life in the Twin Cities and raised two children: Raina (2001) and Cole Meyer (2009). To her children, she was a fiercely dedicated and loving mother; she always wished for this to be her most lasting legacy. She had a passion for early childhood education, which led to her creating a one-of-its-kind sign language curriculum to help babies communicate with their parents and teachers communicate with their students. Denise devoted many years to developing this program, entitled "SignBridge," and lobbied at both the state and federal governments to expand its impact. Simultaneously, she was intensely dedicated to raising her two children and taught classes on American Sign Language in the evenings and on the weekends. Her passion for improving the lives of others, in both her professional and personal life, was truly something to behold, as was her sense of humor. Laughing with her family while watching sitcoms or home videos was one of her most treasured activities, and her sharp wit was unparalleled in its ability to shed light on even the biggest hardships. Her deep sense of empathy was practically legendary to all who knew her and guided so much of her life's work. Above all, one of the most precious gifts she imparted onto this Earth was the intense love she had for those she held dear. Even though she is no longer with us physically, the love and pride she shared with her loved ones will follow us
for the rest of our lives. As she once said, "If there is ever a way for me to stay with you once I'm gone, I will figure it out."
Denise was preceded in death by her mother, Claudia Kurki, and grandparents. She is survived by her father, John Kurki; husband, Kurt Meyer; daughter, Raina Meyer; son, Cole Meyer; sister, Carole Kurki; brother, Mike Kurki, and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Her ceremony will take place on May 13th at 7:15 pm, with visitation occurring from 5:00 - 7:00 pm, at Bradshaw Funeral Home in Stillwater, Minnesota (2800 Curve Crest Blvd, Stillwater, MN 55082).
If you or a loved one is struggling with your mental health, know that asking for help is not only okay but sometimes necessary. Call or text 988 (available 24 hours a day) if you are experiencing mental health-related distress or are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.