Donald (Don) Walter, 86, of Rio Creek, WI was called to his heavenly home early Friday morning, March 31, 2023, at the Jack and Engrid Meng Unity Hospice Residence after a 5-year battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis. The son of Wilbert and Frances (Huck) Walter was born on November 21, 1936, in Alaska, WI. Don married Wendy Lou Havel at St. Paul’s Lutheran church in Algoma on June 9, 1962.
Don graduated from Casco High School in 1955. After graduation, he attended Indiana Technical College and later joined the US Army in 1957. He was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, MS for basic and specialty training. The remainder of his service was spent at the reserve unit in Kewaunee. He was honorably discharged in 1963.
Don began his professional career by establishing and managing Kewaunee Auto Parts, and helping out his father at Walter’s Garage in Rio Creek. In 1961, Don started his own business where he sold short-line farm machinery and did auto repair. In 1966, he and Wendy purchased the Builders Veneer (lastly known as Raton) building in Rio Creek. Walter’s Garage soon came to be known as Walter’s of Rio Creek, or “The King of Better Deals”, by all of the locals. Over the next 50 plus years, he added many lines of farm machinery and hardware to the business. In 1988, they purchased the former Katch’s building in Algoma and after much needed renovation, it was opened as Walter’s How-To Hardware (lastly known as Walter’s Do-it Best Hardware). Don ran Walter’s of Rio Creek and Walter’s Do-it Best Hdw with Wendy and their 2 daughters until 2019, when they sold the businesses to The Door County Cooperative. In 2019, Don received the prestigious Estwing Golden Hammer Award honoring him for 50 plus years of dedicated service to the hardware industry.
Don was Rio Creek Postmaster from 1963 until it’s closing in 1974 and then became Postmaster in Luxemburg.
Don served his community in many ways. He was an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Rankin and was on the financial committee and the endowment fund committee. He served on the Kewaunee County Fair Board for 30 plus years. He also served on the Algoma School Board and the Kewaunee County Board. He was a founding member of the Rio Creek Aviation Foundation.
In the 1970’s Don and Wendy purchased land from Louie Toebe in Rio Creek and formed the Rio Creek Airport, eventually adding the Rio Creek Airview Campgrounds. Don earned his private pilot’s license in 1976. His love for flying inspired him to start an annual Rio Creek Fly-in which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this July.
Besides his love for flying, Don found much enjoyment in collecting and restoring tractors, especially Allis Chalmers and Minneapolis Moline. He enjoyed his Model A and Model T cars, and enjoyed setting up and adding to his collection of model train sets. His tractors, cars, and train sets will be passed down to his children and grandchildren so his legacy may always be remembered.
Don’s pride and joy was his family. He enjoyed family gatherings and birthday parties and attending grandchildren’s sporting events and concerts. Whether giving airplane rides, fishing in the pond, camping, giving golf cart rides, playing cards, completing jigsaw puzzles, or simply sitting around the campfire, he especially loved time spent at the Rio Creek Airport and Airview Campgrounds with family and friends. These wonderful memories will live on forever to all who were fortunate enough to be a part of them.
Most importantly, Don was a Christian and a devoted husband, father, grandfather, friend and community leader. He deeply loved his family, and we will hold in the highest regard, his ability to overcome life’s challenges, his professional accomplishments, his passion for life and the pure enjoyment he found in every hobby he had. His love, time and kindness given to others will shine and live on forever.
Survivors include his wife Wendy of 60 years; his children, Tammy (Brian) Dauck, Nebraska, Brenda (Paul) Nimmer, Kewaunee, Donald R (Jennifer) Walter, Port Washington; grandchildren, Justin (Beth) Dauck, Karlee (Cody) Horlacher, Reggie (Sophia) Nimmer, Bennett, Stella and Wells Walter; great grandchildren, James, Nora, Gideon and Samuel Dauck, William, Hollie and Henry Horlacher. Sister, Deanna (Wayne) Naze; Brothers, David Walter, Dennis (Shirley) Walter; Sister-in-law, Doris Massart; Brother-in-law, Mark Lohrey along with many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Wilbert and Frances Walter, infant son James Donald Walter; infant brother Wilbert Walter Jr.; Father and Mother in-law, William and Doris Havel, Brother-in-law, Joe Massart and Sister-in-law, Donna Lohrey
Visitation will take place Monday, April 3, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Rankin from 10:00am – 1:00 pm. Funeral service will be held at 1:00 pm with Dr. Rev. Christopher Jackson officiating. Kinnard Funeral & Cremation Services is assisting the family. Online condolence message may be shared at KinnardFCS.com.
Don’s family sends special thanks to all of his friends and family who sent cards and visited with him during the last year of his illness. His family also shares their gratitude for the caregivers who showed kindness and compassion for Don, especially Dawn Herlache and the team at the Jack and Engrid Unity Hospice Residence.
In lieu of flowers, memorials will be gathered by the family and donated to organizations that were important to Don.