Donald Splettstazer, 96

Donald Walter Herman Splettstazer, age 96, of Lester Prairie, passed away Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, at his home.

Memorial services will take place Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 11 a.m. at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lester Prairie, with interment at the church cemetery.

The Rev. Eric Nelson will officiate at the services; Jane Holasek will be the organist. Congregational hymns will include “Amazing Grace,” “Jesus Lead Thou On,” and “Just As I Am.”

Military honors will be provided by Lester Prairie American Legion Post 463.

Arrangements are with the Paul-McBride Funeral Chapel of Lester Prairie. Online obituaries and guest book are available at www.hantge.com; click on Obituaries/Guest Book.

Donald was born Sept. 7, 1921, at 22 Hickory Street North, in one of the oldest houses built in Lester Prairie. He was the third child born to Emma (nee Clasen) and August Splettstoszer. Both families were pioneers of Carver and McLeod counties; the 1860 census shows their families on adjacent farms north of Patterson Lake, near Waconia.

August and his brother, Reinhold, “simplified” their last name to Splettstazer about the time of Donald’s birth.

Donny and his good pals, Clyde Beise, Wally and Doug Dibb, and Bud Daggett had the run of the town in the 1920s, and often shared stories about their feats of entrepreneurship, from plowing gardens with a team from the Clasen farm, to digging sewers for the town (by hand).

“Jack August,” Donald’s father, proudly retold the tale of Don’s dog, Pal delivering rural newspapers by carrying them placed in a cheese box with a bell hung from his collar. The bell notified the recipient that the paper could be retrieved with a treat.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Lester Prairie was his lifelong church home. Here, he was baptized, confirmed, and now will be buried.

After graduating from school in Lester Prairie, Don earned a welding degree from Dunwoody Institute and got a job working in the Superior, WI shipyards. There, he met his “Angel,” Helene Brill. They were married March 11, 1944, and enjoyed over 70 years together before Helene’s death.

Don enlisted in the Marines to serve in World War II, and had the good fortune of spending much of his tour of duty in Honolulu.

Returning to Lester Prairie in 1945, Don and Helene lived with Donald’s parents, and Carol was born a year later.

Don really wanted to train dogs for a living, but was persuaded that a cement factory was a more reliable livelihood. He and Helene operated Lester Prairie Cement Products until they retired.

Daughter Mary was brought home to a new house built with blocks from the factory. The home site at the edge of town included a dog kennel, horse barn, riding arena, and pasture.

Don loved working with animals and began raising Brittany dogs in the early ‘50s after receiving a pair from a client as a thank you for training a particularly successful German Shorthair field trial champion. Prairie Rambler Kennels raised fine “Bold and Birdie” Brittany dogs for hunters in every state of the union and even Canada.

Donald loved God, people, hunting, dogs, horses, polka music, and sourdough pancakes, not necessarily in that order. He had a booming voice, loved to hear and tell a good story, and had a friendly, outgoing way of being.

He is survived by his daughters, Carol Kuhlman (Calvin), and Mary Lawrence (Kevin); grandchildren Aaron Kuhlman (Stephanie), Nathan Kuhlman, Elizabeth Carlson (Jake), John Lawrence, and Ellen Lawrence; great-grandchildren Adam Kuhlman, Jessica Scholl, Ella Kuhlman, Seth Kuhlman, Owen Carlson, Wyatt Carlson, and Trevor Carlson; and many people who he loved dearly.

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