Saturday, October 15, 2022

Obituary - Donald R. "Don" Kaiser

Donald Robert Kaiser was born November 18, 1932, at his home in Clinton, Missouri, the youngest child of Marvin Adolph and Mary Grace (Garrett) Kaiser. He passed away at the age of 89 on October 13, 2022, at Clinton Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Clinton, Missouri surrounded by his family.

While growing up in Clinton, Don enjoyed watching the trains as they passed through town. This developed into a passion that stayed with him his entire life. His first job was for the Clinton Daily Democrat as a newspaper delivery boy. During high school, he worked for Mr. Raymond Gray at the Golden Valley Dairy. There, he learned to process the milk, pasteurize it, bottle it, and then deliver it. Don was also a member of the Hi-Y Club and the Boy Scouts. He graduated from Clinton High School with the Class of 1950. Right after high school, Don began taking a lot of pictures. He had a friend whose dad had a darkroom, and Don enjoyed learning how to print pictures. He bought his first speed graphic camera at the old Hutcherson’s Drug Store and taught himself how to use it. His passion for photography continued to grow. Soon, he was taking pictures everywhere he went. Car Racing was prominent around Clinton at this time, and he really enjoyed taking pictures at the races, from Clinton all the way down to Humansville. In 1953, he received his draft notice, but was honorably discharged due to blindness in one eye. When he returned home, he began working for A&P Grocery Store, where he would continue working for the next 23 years until 1976.   Don met Betty Lou Swabby while she was a cashier at the old Lee Theater. A mutual friend persuaded them to go on a date, and they were married two years later on April 29, 1956, at the New Hope Baptist Church by the Reverend Hugh Sperry. This union was blessed with two children: Donna Sue and Kenneth Wayne. They enjoyed 62 years of marriage before Betty passed away in 2018. While working at A&P, he began taking wedding photographs on the weekends while working for Mrs. Madelyn Pelikan at Pelikan Studio. In 1974, he purchased Pelikan Studio and renamed it Kaiser Photography Studio. After his retirement from A&P, he had more time to focus on his new business. In 1980, they built a new studio with a darkroom at 924 N. Third St. For the next 32 years, Don and Betty focused on taking high quality photographs, including family portraits, weddings, graduations, youth sports, and senior pictures. Over the last 70 years, Don documented most of Clinton’s history through photographs. He was always running somewhere in town to take pictures before an old building was torn down or something new was built. Don’s love of trains continued through his entire life. Many family vacations were planned around a train he wanted to see or ride. There are thousands of pictures (and I mean THOUSANDS) taken of trains as he combined his love for trains and photography. He became a member of the Katy Railroad Historical Society (KRHS) and enjoyed going to their annual conventions where he was able to share many of his train photographs. He, along with other members of the group, set up train displays for several years at the Henry County Museum for others to enjoy. Don, along with David Mills, had a remarkable display of trains set up at the Kaiser Photography Studio building where many people enjoyed seeing all of the trains in action that both men were able to collect over the years. Another love in Don’s life was bluegrass music. He and Betty were charter members of the Golden Valley Bluegrass Association, and as members of the group, they were instrumental in bringing bluegrass music to Clinton. Several times each year, they helped orchestrate bluegrass festivals at the Lester Foster Music Park east of town. They enjoyed traveling all over the midwest, Mississippi, and North Carolina attending bluegrass festivals. For over 20 years, they traveled to Nashville, Tennessee every February to photograph and attend the annual awards ceremony for SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America). They enjoyed seeing old friends, listening to good bluegrass music, and photographing the bands. For years, Don photographed many bluegrass bands and his photos were used for their album covers.          Don was a faithful member of the First Presbyterian Church for over 75 years. He served as an elder and Sunday School Superintendent for many years. He and Betty enjoyed attending Bible studies during their retirement. While his son, Kenny, was growing up, Don volunteered with the Boy Scout Troop 436, serving as treasurer for many years. He spent many summers with Kenny at the H. Roe Bartle Boy Scout Camp. They both enjoyed a trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico in 1976. He was a charter member of the Henry County Historical Society where he received the Heritage Award in 2009. He was also a member of the Clinton Kiwanis Club for many years and was a Past President. After retiring, Don joined the Clinton Elks Lodge where he enjoyed spending time with his son and his many friends. He volunteered for everything from serving ice cream at the VA home to helping at the many dinners or assisting with the Friday night lodge events. Family and friends were very important to Don. He was always there when anyone needed him, and you could always count on him to tell you a funny story or a joke.   In addition to his wife, Betty, Donald was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, Kenneth Marvin Kaiser and Wendell Garrett Kaiser, and one sister, Doris Ann (Kaiser) Ikenberry.   Don is survived by his daughter, Donna Doll (David) and his son, Kenneth Kaiser (Susan), both of Clinton; two grandchildren, Sarah Hall (Jason) of Windsor and Nathan Doll (Sharon) of Bates City; four great-grandchildren, Ashlee Hall and JJ Hall of Windsor, Mason Doll and Addison Doll of Bates City; one great-great grandson, Jackson Hall of Windsor; brother-in-law, Gene Swabby (Doriene) of Clinton; and numerous nieces, nephews, and a host of friends. Funeral services will be at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, followed by the Elks Service under the direction of the Clinton Elks Lodge #1034 at the First Presbyterian Church. The family will receive friends from 6:00 to 8:00 PM on Monday, October 17, 2022, at the Bradley & Hadley Funeral Home, Clinton. Interment will be in the Englewood Cemetery. The family suggests memorial contributions to the First Presbyterian Church or The Clinton Elks Lodge Building Fund, and these donations may be left in care of the funeral home.

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