Donald Clayton Kauffman
May 15, 1943 - July 21, 2020
On, July 21,2020, the hearts of so many who have known him have temporarily parted with their beloved father, brother, husband, grandfather, uncle and friend, Donald Clayton Kauffman. For nearly 1-1/2 years Don battled a nefarious cancer, and now has peacefully passed on.
On May 15, 1943 in the tiny town of Safford, Arizona, Norma Hamblin and William Clayton Kauffman welcomed their firstborn child, Donald Clayton Kauffman. William (commonly known as Bill) was a professor teaching at Gila College (later, Eastern Arizona College). The young family moved to Southern California and in 1948 they moved to Rexburg, Idaho. By then, the family had grown to three children. Bill accepted the position as Head of the Speech and Drama Department at Ricks College.
Incontestably, this family was not afraid of either hard work or change! Don has fond memories as a young boy traversing the halls of the College, peeking in on skeletons in the science lab on the way to find his dad. Don’s life changed abruptly at the young age of 8, when his father passed away from a stroke. What a daunting challenge for an oldest son, as the weighty reality of needing to help in ways not commonplace for such a young lad set in deeply. And, what a blessing to all of these children that their mother taught and lived the quality of working hard!
At the young age of 12, Don worked on Idaho dry wheat farms during the months of summer, in part to help finance his own personal needs. This assignment challenged Don to drive enormous grain harvesters and a D-8 caterpillar. This was thrilling, and also frightening. Even though he sometimes imagined, driving in the dark of night, that there were monsters or bad guys lurking in the perimeter trees, Don pushed through his fear and did what needed to be done. This theme of life, pushing through no matter how great the difficulty, rises as an element of character to all who have known him. For the next 5 years, Don assumed manly work, lifting bales of hay and driving to care for the fields.
In 1960, his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where Don attended his senior year of High School. It is important to note the closeness of sibling relationship in Don’s family. Perhaps, in part because their father passed away so early in their lives, the four siblings (Don, Bill, Tanya and Stan) relied on each other as well as their mother for true assistance, watching over each other, and doing some of the little favors that might normally be done by a parent. As an elementary school child, Stan tells of finding a few dollars tucked in the pocket of his jeans on a school day, placed there by a loving older brother (Don) who thought Stan might want to enjoy a treat on the way home from school. Tanya tells of her older brother teaching her how to dance and even monitoring who she dated. Don has given constant service to his brother, Bill and Bill’s wife, Connie, who have unique needs.
During the next five years, Don worked during each summer to earn money to finance his education, and attended college for the rest of the year. Don attended college for several years, but was unable to complete college at that time because he was drafted into the Army in 1966. By the time he was assigned to head a division of Infantry in Vietnam, Don had completed Basic Training, Officer Candidate School, Airborne Jump School (101st Airborne) and had earned the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. Just before leaving for this first tour, Don met and married Pauline Ann Dormann (known as Lynn) and adopted her three daughters as his own, Vincy, Tammy and Kimberly. The character trait of ‘push through and do what needs to be done’ kicked in again! He was awarded a purple heart and two Bronze Stars withValor in combat in Vietnam. After his return, his fourth daughter, Tracie, was born (January 1970).
One of his long-held childhood dreams was to be a pilot. So, the next step in military training was Flight School, during which the arrival of his son, Brett, was celebrated. The completion of flight school yielded another tour in Vietnam – this time transporting troops by air as a helicopter pilot. Not only did Don transport troops, on occasion he transported tons of rice to remote villages (not always an authorized action!).
Military life is hard on families, and Don and Lynn divorced in 1979. With gusto, Don took on the role of single fathering. He moved to Leavenworth, Kansas to attend the General Staff College. It was a hard year for Don and the family.
After serving out the remainder of his 20 years of Army Service, Don retired as a Lt. Colonel. He then worked in the private sector helping organizations operate more amicably and efficiently. While working for Northwest Airlines, he met a young woman, Janet Hansen, who worked there as a financial manager. They dated and married, giving Don years of meaningful friendship, travel, and memories. Working at Northwest and Gemini Consulting Firm afforded them opportunity to travel to Asia and other foreign places -- where he especially loved exploring flavors and aromas of foreign food! After 20 years, this marriage came to a friendly conclusion.
Just 6 years ago, Don met Margaret Johansen. This affection first developed talking hundreds of hours on the phone, after Margaret arrived home from her workday at her psychotherapy office. After countless trips over highways in-between Henderson, NV and Scottsdale, AZ, they married on June 13, 2015 in the Las Vegas Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Blending families of Don’s 5 children (and accompanying 13 grandchildren) and Margaret’s 5 children (and accompanying 12 grandchildren) has been a tremendous achievement. Both Don and Margaret dearly love people, young and old. So, there is unending opportunity to engage with and be a part of the lives of these beloved children and grandchildren. Travels to India, Machu Picchu, California Coast, and trips across the United States have laced through these years of marriage. Both Margaret and Don are very involved in Church and Humanitarian service, an endeavor that deeply bonds their hearts.
Don’s personal word is well suited, “Gusto”! All who know him see the evidence of this in his zest for fast cars, motorcycles, travel and food! He has loved living with a sense of edge and adventure. He is tenacious, gutsy, and lion-hearted.
Don has an unusual collection of long-held friends, and still maintains close friendships with some of the people with whom he attended elementary school (Dick Woods, Richard Jacobsen). And, friends made later in life are just as fast: John Whaley, who was Don’s real estate partner for 18 years, became trusted and loved like a brother. And Jerry Voegele, who has been Don’s gym buddy here in Anthem, has steadfastly visited Don during this long illness. There has been an amazing outpouring of cards, texts and phone calls from many who love him.
Both Don and Margaret want to express thanks to family members and dear friends who have generously come to give relief and assistance during this difficult lengthy illness. Don’s daughter and son, Tracie and Brett, have flown here many times to spend precious time with their dad and to assist in care for him. His sister, Tanya and her husband Ron have time and again driven from Phoenix to render service and offer love. Don’s brother, Stan and his wife Shirley, have repeatedly galvanized oiled freeways to Henderson from Utah Valley. Margaret’s children have been at the forefront and also Margaret’s brother, Bob Arnold, has driven here several times to help. Many family members have sent cards, called, and kept in touch.
We would also like to give deepest thanks to our Church community. Our Bishop, Ryan Brunson, has been affectionate and diligent in continuing to check in on Don’s circumstance, even through all of the difficulties that COVID virus presents. And, the Relief Society President, Linda Weaver, also has reached out to us many times. Margaret would like, personally, to thank her friends who have been so generous in support and love – Cherrie Hoeft, Susan Bragonje, Kay Maxfield, Fawn Brimhall, Janet Nordine, Janet Cazier.
There are two testimonies Don would love to share at the conclusion of his life:
His sure testimony of the Truth of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that he has always known that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is God’s greatest gift to the world.
Early on, after learning of his diagnosis of cancer, Don said, “I will fight against this with everything I can in the hope that I can overcome this disease.But, if not, this has been a terrific life!”
Wife: Margaret Johansen, Henderson, NV
Children: Vincy Bramblett, Maryville, TN
Tammy Kauffman, Colorado Springs, CO
Kimberly Johnson, Ludowici, GA
Tracie Barone, Cumming, GA
Brett Kauffman, Murfreesboro, TN
And 13 grandchildren
PRECEEDED IN DEATH BY:
William Clayton Kauffman, father
Norma Hamblin Kauffman, mother
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