A successful real estate entrepreneur in the St Cloud area, Cy Kuefler worked hard to promote his own business and to improve his profession. He believed in the power of education and played a significant role in elevating the educational and ethical standards within the real estate industry. His progressive vision helped shape the profession as it is today.
As a University of Minnesota graduate and a life-long learner, Kuefler was inspired to improve his chosen profession by championing legislation to professionalize the real estate business and to protect consumers. He worked systematically and resolutely to pass legislation to fund real estate higher education and helped to establish continuing education and licensing requirements for realtors and brokers.
Born in 1925 in Galahad, Alberta, Canada, the sixth of eight children, Kuefler was five years old when his family moved to Stearns County, Minnesota, where he spent the remainder of his life, with the exception of time served in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during WWII. Kuefler grew up near Upsala and Holdingford, among German and Swedish neighbors, learning from attentive parents the importance of caring about and respecting people as well as the land.
At the University of Minnesota, Kuefler studied real estate and majored in business. By 1951 he had entered the real estate business and in 1953 he started the St. Cloud Board of REALTORS® with his father’s assistance. There, he led as president of the organization in 1953, 1959 and 1963. During that time he also founded the Cy Keufler Property Management Company in St. Cloud.
Kuefler was a creative businessman. David Kuefler recalls that his father used the first reflective material on his real estate signs and was quick to see the advantages of advertising his business on the ice-resurfacing machine at the rink!
Kuefler sought out opportunities to advance professionally through his own educational efforts, obtaining designations such as GRI (Graduate, REALTOR® Institute); CR13 (Certified Residential Broker); ALC (Accredited Land Consultant); and SREA (Accredited Appraiser). He published many articles on land ownership, including material for a college textbook. He conducted seminars across the United States, Europe and Asia. In 1969 Kuefler was appointed to the Real Estate Commission by the governor of Minnesota, where he worked diligently to advance the industry.
An accomplishment in which he took great pride was establishing the original degree program in real estate in the state. In 1973, as a Minnesota Real Estate Commissioner, Kuefler worked alongside Bernie Rice (2011 MN Real Estate Hall of Fame Inductee) to obtain passage of the Minnesota Real Estate Education, Research and Recovery Act. This legislation provided the first funding for a chair in real estate at a state college or university. Due to this effort, St. Cloud State University was able to hire a real estate faculty person to develop a degree program which offered its first classes in the fall of 1981. The concept gained momentum, and in 1995 the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas created the Distinguished Chair in Real Estate, hiring the retired chair of the St. Cloud program, George R. Karvel, in 1997. From there, UST developed a Master of Science degree in Real Estate, a Bachelor of Science degree in Real Estate, continuing education programs run by the Shenehon Center for Real Estate and a Center for Real Estate Research.
“Even the creation of a real estate board of advisors at UST flows from the vision of Bernie Rice and Cy Kuefler. Although they did not speak of, or envision, a Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame, it, too, is a legacy of their efforts.” George R. Karvel
Kuefler gave back to his church and his community as he worked with the bishops of the St. Cloud Diocese to help build low-income and elderly housing in the city. He was instrumental in building a church in Sartell and a chapel in Crow Wing State Park. He was a 4th degree Knight of Columbus and, in 1970, became the state’s first inductee into that organization’s Hall of Fame.
Kuefler was active in many civic activities including holding positions as director of Norwest Bank in St. Cloud (1971 – 1993), member of the board of trustees with the St. Cloud Hospital (1969-1979), past president of the Central Minnesota Boy Scout Council, president of the Senior Volunteer Committee, the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce, Exchange Club and Sierra Club of St. Cloud. His special awards include: REALTOR® of the Year – Minnesota 1966 and 1968; Land REALTOR® of America – 1978; Distinguished Service Award – Minnesota 1966, 1969 and 1971; Life Membership in the National Association of REALTORS® & Minnesota Association of REALTORS® – 1992.
Cy Keufler worked tirelessly to promote the common good during a life committed to learning, teaching, leading and inspiring others. We can see his legacy in the standards of ethics and expertise in the real estate profession today. His progressive vision included real estate programs in higher education and his efforts have had far-reaching and long-lasting benefits for real estate students, consumers and companies in Minnesota.