Bob Karlstrand's story went flying around the Internet in a matter of hours — a much shorter time span than it took to pack up his entire life.
Air Force veteran Bob Karlstrand, an Air Force veteran, has given away most of his possessions away to Minnesota residents willing to accept his unique gifts. From furniture, board games, photographs, letters to his mother, and even golf score cards he collected playing 535 courses in his home state of Minnesota. after trying to play each course in the state (he played 535 total), it's all going, going, gone.
"In the end, it's only material things," Karlstrand told TV station KARE 11.
Finally, the former staff sergeant he will give away his home of 38 years in Maple Grove. And Karlstrand, working with Habitat for Humanity, is also giving away his Maple Grove house — a place he called home for 38 years. Hhis retirement savings — now a $1 million endowment — will be donated to the University of Minnesota's nursing school, which has turned into a $1 million endowment. And it's all for good reason.
Why? Karlstrand, 65, is isn't sure he will make it to his 66th year, battling colon cancer and a terminal lung disease, and he isn't sure he'll make it to his 66th birthday.
"I've had a good life so I can't complain at all," said Karlstrand, who retired from an insurance firm. Karlstrand worked for an insurance firm in Minnesota after the service but has since retired//OP.
An only child, he never married or had children, but used his time to travel and volunteer. He'd like to see his possessions be put to good use — especially his house, which he hopes is passed down to another veteran like himself.
"In the end, it's only material things," Karlstrand told TV station KARE 11, whose story on Karlstrand went viral on the Internet.
Karlstrand enlisted right out of high school in 1967 at the age of 17. He worked as an administrative specialist in the orderly room of the Field Maintenance Squadron at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, before deploying to U-Tapao, Thailand, in July 1969. He spent one year supporting supported B-52s during missions over Vietnam. He moved briefly came back to Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana, briefly before participating in the Air Force's back-to-school program. He was released from the service as a staff sergeant six months early to attend University of Minnesota business school, graduating in 1973.
Not able to be reached by telephone // he isn't a TV/phone person, so he got rid of those a while ago (not sure if the phone was part of giving it away in the recent purge) //OP Karlstrand doesn't have a phone, so he answered questions from details his journey in an email to Military Times in an email. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q. Why did you decide to give everything away? What has your experience been with this big move?
A. I have no family so everything I own would have to go somewhere. Like they say, "You can't take it with you." so I was hoping that I could do all of this a little later, but it is not going to work that way. Some things that were owned by my grandparents were given to cousins. Some possessions were given to friends. I tried to find a good home for the things that meant the most to me. The rest — like household goods, furniture — were donated to charities that would be able to reuse them (like household goods, furniture, etc.).
Q. How about donating your savings to the hospital?
A. I have received great care at the VA Medical Center from all the nurses, both of my parents were on hospice care, and I did volunteer work at a nursing home. Sso I have met a lot a nurses over the years, and I feel they are the backbone of our health system and the need will be great with "baby boomers" like myself needing more and more health care.
Q. Will you miss anything you have given away in particular?
A. I have good memories of everything I have given away, and by the time I leave my house I hope for there to be nothing left. Sometimes you see estate sales advertised in the paper with a page full of things to be sold. I feel being able to give my things to the people I want is much, much better.
Q. How might What's the process for your house to end up in the hands of another veteran?
A. I hope it goes to a veteran with a family because it would be a great neighborhood to raise kids. I have signed the papers and given Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity the keys. It is under a life estate deed where I can live in the house until I die and then it would transfer to Habitat. Under our agreement, they have one year to find a qualified veteran for my house. They do the selection and I have no say in the matter [but]… it is possible I can meet the new owners depending on how long I live. If the veteran they select has to move for some reason, Habitat has the right to repurchase the house. Whether or not it goes to a veteran after that I don't know. Habitat will rehab the house and sell it to a veteran at a reduced price.
Q.What is a piece of advice you have for members in the military today? What similarities or differences do you see in today's service members from when you were in the service, and what would you like to see more of?
A. I haven't given this question much thought although I'm sure many things have changed, much also remains the same. It seems like the conflicts we are now in have no end, which I'm sure has an effect on morale on all members of the services.