A time for mourning

The community gathers this week to mourn four men who lost their lives Thursday in an industrial accident at a demolition landfill in the Village of Superior.

The community gathers this week to mourn four men who lost their lives Thursday in an industrial accident at a demolition landfill in the Village of Superior.

A funeral for brothers Joseph Kimmes III, 44, and Scott Kimmes, 40, takes place at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Cathedral of Christ the King Catholic Church with visitation one hour earlier. Visitation begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Downs-LeSage Funeral home.

Both men are members of Holy Assumption Church, but the family chose to hold the brothers' funeral in the larger cathedral to accommodate more people.

"These gentlemen touched a lot of lives in a positive way," said family spokesman Rick Gondik, a Superior attorney. "This is time for the community to pay their respects."

The brothers were known as the "heart and soul" of the family businesses they operated together -- Lakehead Blacktop & Materials Inc. and J. Kimmes Construction.


Gondik recalled Joseph Kimmes III as a man of few words.

"You'd take him as gruff, but he was the warmest, kindest guy you'd know," Gondik said.

Although he didn't know Scott as well, the attorney said, both were personable.

"I always liked Scotty," Gondik said.

The brothers and two other men -- Paul Cossalter and Harold "Tim" Olsen Jr. -- were overcome and killed by hydrogen sulfide gas while working inside an underground catch basin for runoff from the Lakehead facility.

When asked how parishioners responded to news of the deaths, Rev. Ron Olson of Holy Assumption told the Duluth News Tribune: "It has been devastating. It came as quite a shock, and people are really feeling for the family. They're all hurting and we're trying to reach out as best we can."

Olson said the Kimmes family has long been a pillar of the congregation. He described the Kimmes brothers and their father, Joseph P. Kimmes II, as strong and steady benefactors of the church, handling building and parking lot projects, among other tasks.

Gondik has known the Kimmes brothers since high school.


"These were two great construction minds," he said. "Some of the brightest and best in the business."

He called them "movers and shakers" who will be deeply missed by the community.

Joseph Kimmes III leaves behind his wife, Julie, and four children.

"He truly loved his wife and his family," Gondik said.

Scott is survived by his wife of eight years, Mary.

The family is doing the best they can, Gondik said.

"They're faced with the cold, hard reality of not only grieving the loss, but making funeral arrangements ... picking out caskets," he said.

In his position as lawyer and friend, Gondik pointed out that although there had been lawsuits between family members, they had recently been reconciled.


"Any disputes among family was resolved," he said, recalling when the fighting ceased. "It was heartwarming. There wasn't a dry eye in the office."

If there is something to be learned from the tragedy, he said, it may be that: "Life is short. Make your peace and carry on as a family."

The brothers also leave behind a legacy to their alma mater. A scholarship fund in their name has been set up for the Superior School District.

Olsen, 47, of Foxboro, was a heavy equipment operator and landfill manager for Kimmes/Lakehead Blacktop.

Visitation for Olsen takes place from 10 a.m. until the 11 a.m. service Thursday at Darrow Road Wesleyan Church.

Visitation for Cossalter, 41, a private electrical contractor from Wrenshall, begins tonight at Nelson Funeral Care in Cloquet. It continues Tuesday at St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Esko, from 11 a.m. until a 1 p.m. funeral.

The Duluth News Tribune contributed to this report.

What To Read Next
Get Local