Donald J. Haberer, 76, life-long Russell County resident passed away Wednesday, March 12, 2014, at Salina Regional Medical Center in the embrace of his family.
Don was a loving husband, proud father, and doting grandfather as well as a committed member of the Russell community. Don was born June 3, 1937, to Emil and Mary Lorraine (Salber) Haberer at Hays Protestant Hospital, Hays, Kansas. His early years were spent in rural Russell County along the Saline River in Paradise Township. His education began there at Fay School, District No. 51, and culminated with his graduation from Paradise Rural High School in 1955. He was Class Valedictorian. He attended Fort Hays State College for three semesters in the years 1955 to 1957 before volunteering and being inducted into the U.S. Army. His induction ceremony took place in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 1, 1957. After seven days at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, he did eight weeks of Basic Training at Ft. Lewis, Washington, and eight weeks of Advanced Training at Ft. Ord, California. He was eventually assigned to the Criminal Investigation Detachment at Fort Polk, Louisiana, as a Clerk/Typist. On November 7, 1957, he began his deployment in Berlin, Germany, with the Army of Occupation where he served until February 12, 1959. His duties in Berlin included guarding Nazi war criminals in Spandau prison. After 20 months of service, Don was promoted to the rank of SP4. He also earned the distinction of Browning Automatic Rifleman. Don served proudly in the U.S. Army until he was mustered out at Ft. Sheridan, Illinois, after his tour of duty in Germany ended.
Don returned to Kansas to finish his education in the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. As a Senior, he was inducted into the Gamma Sigma Delta International Honor Society of Agriculture. He graduated in 1962 with a B.S. in Agriculture Economics and elected to continue his education at K-State with a Research Assistantship. He completed his Master’s Degree in Agriculture Economics in 1964. It was during this time at K-State that he met and married his wife of 52 years, Patricia (Proshek) Haberer. He remained dedicated to these three passions—Pat, farming, and the Wildcat—for the rest of his life.
Don started his post-K-State career in December of 1963 as a County Extension Agent in Hall County, Nebraska. In addition to his work with 4-H and extension programs, he served as a panel member for the Agricultural Cooperative Training for Managers and Directors, sponsored by the University of Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Coop Council, and the Omaha Bank for Cooperatives. Don and Pat welcomed a son and a daughter to their family while living in Grand Island, Nebraska. Don and family returned to Russell County in 1966 when Don accepted a position as Vice President and Loan Officer at the Russell State Bank. He held this position until he left to become a full-time farmer on December 31, 1979. Don and Pat welcomed their third child, a son, to the family during their early years in Russell. From 1980 until his retirement, Don farmed in Paradise Township, continuing another generation of Haberer family farming in Russell County. During these years and well into his retirement, Don also worked in Real Estate, Appraisal, Personal Property Valuation and was a long-time member of Kansas Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. He served as the President of KSFMRA in 1984, besides chairing several conferences and serving on the Board of Directors for six years. In addition to his Real Estate career, he worked for 10 years with McKinley Auction Service.
Dedicated to his family and community, Don’s eye was always on the future. He gave freely of his time and talent in his community. He was active with Extension and 4-H in Russell County, serving for six years on the Russell County Fair Association Board of Directors and six years on the Russell County Extension Council. He served two three-year terms on Russell Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, including two years as Chairman. He served two terms on the Board of Directors of Agco, Inc., including three years as Secretary and three years as President. He served two terms on the Russell City Council and two terms as a Commissioner for Russell County. He was a founding member of the Russell County Economic Development Committee and served three terms on the Board of Supervisors for the Russell County Soil Conversation District. Many who knew Don knew him as a practical businessman and forthright adviser. To the end, he took a lively interest in history, science, genealogy, and politics. He was as comfortable discussing world affairs as local affairs. He read widely and instilled the love of education in his children. He took great pride in the feats of his predecessors, always recognizing the efforts of those who came before him and paying tribute to them by continuing their successes. After retirement, Don and Pat were fortunate to be able to travel, exploring the world and making or renewing connections amongst friends and family. He discovered and joined the Berlin U.S. Military Veterans Association. Don was a life-time member of the National Rifle Association, the Kansas Rifle Association, and the Kansas State University Alumni Association.
Don is survived by his wife, Pat, of the home and three children: Kurt (Jill) of Clay Center, KS; Keri (Luis Guzman) of Wichita, KS; and Keith of rural Russell; one sister, Mary (Dale) Thompson of Genoa, CO; one brother Eric (Marlene) of rural Russell; a granddaughter, five step grandchildren and four step great grandchildren; twelve nieces and nephews, and a host of friends. He will be sorely missed.
He was preceded in death by his parents and an infant brother.
A Gathering will be held on Sunday, March 16, 2014 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM at Pohlman-Varner-Peeler Mortuary of Russell. A Memorial has been established with Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas (DSNWK). Contributions and condolences may be sent to Pohlman-Varner-Peeler Mortuary, who is in charge of these arrangements.