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Donald Kieffer (1925-2012)

Father of Steve Kieffer started Don Kieffer Signs and helped found the Wisconsin Sign Assn.



Donald Kieffer, 87, the founder of what is now Kieffer & Co. (Sheboygan, WI), an active member of several associations, and the father of former ISA chairman and Kirk Brimley Distinguished Service Award winner Steve Kieffer, died Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at Ministry Door County Medical Center in Sturgeon Bay with family by his side.

Steve wrote, "After WWII, Don was trained as a signpainter. He took college correspondence courses under the GI bill and studied numerous subjects, including structural engineering. In 1953, he moved to Kansas City to work for Stallcup Sign Co. as its construction superintendent. In 1958, he moved to the Chicago area to work as Federal Sign’s plant manager at its Blue Island, IL factory. He borrowed money from his parents, and, on Dec. 1, 1959, purchased a small sign company in Sheboygan, WI. He operated this business as Don Kieffer Signs until 1979, when it merged with the Manitowoc Sign Co. and became Kieffer & Co., Inc. 

"Don was a member of the National Electric Sign Assn. (NESA, the Intl. Sign Assn.’s precursor) and an early member of WNA (now World Sign Associates [WSA]). In the 70’s, he served on the WNA and NESA boards and committees. He helped found the Wisconsin Adv. Assn. (now the Wisconsin Sign Assn.) and served as its president in 1973. He lead WAA’s opposition to Highway Beautification Act regulations in Wisconsin. Don successfully convinced the WI DOT to accept a three-second, copy-change interval for electronic message centers."

He was born on February 17, 1925 in Dixon, IL, the son of George and Della (Ankeny) Kieffer. A 1943 graduate of Dixon High School, Don served in the Army during WWII. He married Jeanne M. Smith in 1946, and she preceded him in death in 1986. On November 23, 1986 he married Ruth Helen Koehler at St. Paul Lutheran Church. Following his retirement, Don and Ruth served in the Mission Builders program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, building churches around the country.

Don was a member of the Escapees RC Club, the National Rifle Assn., and he was also an avid singer in the Western White Coral, and Men of Harmony in Tucson, AZ.

Don is survived by his wife, Ruth of Washington Island and Hondo, TX; eight children: Steve (Lynn) of Boca Grande, FL; Barb (Dennis) Smith of Tucson, AZ; Patricia (Justin) Fleischman of San Rafael, CA; Martha (Ron) Clarke of Albuquerque, NM; Tom (Laurel) of Strum, WI; Richard (Christine) of Fox Point, WI; Jim (Sue) of Sheboygan, WI; Susan Leah (Kass Saven) Kieffer of Port Orange, FL; three step-children: Jerry (Pam) Corfman of Kiel, WI; Richard (Martha) Korfman of Dubuque, IA; and Carol (David) Lemke of Madison, WI; 21 grandchildren; six step-grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; and four step-great-grandchildren.


He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Jeanne; and brother, Lester.

A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church on Washington Island with Rev. Frank Maxwell officiating.

In lieu of flowers, please direct memorial donations to Gospel Rescue Mission (456 N. Morley Ave., Nogales, AZ 85628), Galilean Children’s Home (PO Box 880, 712 South Fork Church Rd., Liberty, KY 42539), or your local Salvation Army.






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