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Donn Lee Kreofsky -Spring Valley, Ill.

WABASHA — Donn Lee Kreofsky, 61, of Spring Valley, Ill., formerly of Kellogg, died July 20, 2010, in his home, of acute heart failure.

Cremation rites were accorded and a small family gathering will be held at a later date. Arrangements are through the Mueller Funeral Home in Peru, Ill.

Mr. Kreofsky was born June 2, 1949, in Wabasha to Henry M. and Helen M. (Tibesar) Kreofsky. Mr. Kreofsky was the youngest of three children and attended school in Plainview and Wabasha, graduating from St. Felix High School in 1967. Growing up along the Mississippi River, he spent many hours in his sailboat. Donn graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1972 with a B.A. and completed his terminal degree of an MFA in 1982 from the University of Minnesota.

Between 1973 and 1978, Donn taught photography and studio arts at both Winona State University and St. Mary’s University in Winona. In 1979 he married Sarah Loveland of Peru, Ill., and they moved to St. Paul while he finished his MFA. In 1982 Donn and Sarah moved back to Wabasha, where he designed and built a passive solar home and began teaching photography, drawing and design at St. Mary’s University in Winona.

He and his wife, Sarah, started LARK Toys (Lost Arts Revival by Kreofsky) in their garage in 1982. Over twenty-five years, it grew into toy manufacturing with LARK handmade toys sold nationwide. Following that, Donn designed and built an exquisite chisel-carved working Carousel and created the largest specialty retail toy store in North America. LARK Toys and Carousel became a beloved destination for tourists and families, and Donn met and entertained people from all over the world.

Donn’s special joy was seeing children’s eyes when they first saw the Carousel before riding it. As the Toymaster in his toy store, he delighted in demonstrating his jumping spider trick toy, paper snake and bagel-with-cockroach.

He was a co-founder of Mississippi Valley Partners, a regional tourism organization in southeastern Minnesota.

Their three sons, Chadd, David and Andrew worked alongside their parents at LARK for many years and are all currently living and working in Illinois.

In 2008, Donn and Sarah sold LARK to a new family and moved to Illinois to be closer to Sarah’s family. Donn said the first 30 years of marriage were spent close to his family and thereafter it would be her turn to be in her home area.

Once settled in Spring Valley, Donn and Sarah drove for Red Cross Mobile Meals. Donn worked in his home studio and was about to begin his book, "How to Never Grow Up."

He is survived by his wife, Sarah of Spring Valley; his parents, Henry and Helen Kreofsky of Wabasha; 3 sons, Chadd Maze Kreofsky of Granville, Ill., David Tibesar Kreofsky of Spring Valley, and Andrew Loveland Kreofsky of Peru; and 1 sister, Karen Kreofsky (Rich) Bouquet of Lake City, Minn.

He was preceded in death by one brother, Larry Kreofsky.

In lieu of flowers, memorials should be directed to the service organization in the reader’s area that supplies Christmas toys to children in need.

Online condolences may be shared at MuellerFH.com.