Dr. John Kieffer, 87

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dr. John D. Kieffer, 87, of Mountain Home, died July 20, 2006.

At the time of his death he was under the care of the Idaho State Veterans Home in Boise.

Funeral services were held Monday, July 24, at Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel in Mountain Home. Inurnment will be held at a later date in the Hagerman Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel in Mountain Home.

John was born Feb. 17, 1919, to John F. and Della M. Kieffer, in Shawneetown, Ill. His father died when John was a young boy, so he was raised primarily by his mother and older sisters. His boyhood years were spent on the banks of the Ohio River in Southern Illinois. Many of his stories and tales of these early years are likened to that of a Tom Sawyer story, his family noted.

"When dad was a senior in high school in 1937, the "Great Flood of '37" essentially washed away his hometown of Shawneetown and with that his boyhood home, and most of his family possessions floated away. Dad finished his final months of high school in a tent, as the town was moved to higher ground."

After graduating from high school, Kieffer attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where he pursued an Agriculture and Education degree. At onset of World War II he enlisted in the US Army. His primary training in the Army Air Corps was as a Medical Technician, which was the beginning of his career to come. He was stationed at various bases around the country, but eventually landed at Gowen Field in Boise. It was during that time that he and some friends attended a Methodist Church Picnic on an October day and he met his future wife, Fern A. Robbins. They were later married on April 16, 1944.

After the war, Kieffer was eager to return to Idaho with his family and get on with life. His Med Tech training in the military provided an immediate transition into a laboratory position at the Samaritan Hospital in Nampa. During his time at the hospital he remained connected with his agriculture roots by helping neighbors and friends with projects and harvests. Also, at that time, he raised and ran hound dogs.

After his time at the hospital, he realized that he was ready to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a doctor, so he could "fix his mother's feet, buy her a new pair of shoes, and take her dancing." He enrolled in Western States Chiropractic College, in Portland, Ore.

While at Western States College he developed and taught the clinical laboratory program for the college and also worked at Portland General Hospital in Portland, Ore.

Upon completion and graduation from Chiropractic College, he and his family returned to Idaho and "hung their first shingle" in Gooding. They later relocated to Mountain Home, but always maintained a close connection to friends and community in Gooding County.

Before leaving Gooding, the family had grown from three to five children and while in Mountain Home, the final two "Kieffer Kids" were born.

After retiring from practice in Mountain Home, Kieffer and his wife built a new home in Hagerman, where they had ten "blessed and wonderful years," his family said.

"Throughout his life, dad was devoted to his family and also the community in which he lived. He was always active in church and many community organizations including the Odd Fellows, Rebekahs, Elks, Grange, 4H, Master Gardeners and always had a special interest in politics.

"He was also always eager to 'wet a line' at a favorite fishing spot, load up the horses for a pack trip, do some bird hunting, get out in nature for a hike, or just get out for a 'Sunday Drive'." his family said. "As a family, there was always a family vacation in the works for a visit to some part of the country. It was his love of life and love of nature that he has instilled in all of us kids and we will always remember him for." Although born in Illinois, he was truly a "proud Idahoan," his family noted.

"Professionally, dad served his profession proudly by setting a strong example of ethics. He was truly devoted to serving the people who entrusted their healthcare to him. He was passionate with this until his final days."

He served for 24 years on the Idaho State Board of Chiropractic Examiners, and was instrumental in the development of the Idaho State Chiropractic Law. He was also active in membership and leadership roles of local and national chiropractic organizations.

He is survived by: his wife of 62 years, Fern; five of his children, Janet Renfrew and her husband, Bill, of Fairbanks, Alaska, John F. Kieffer of Mountain Home, Judy Unruh and her husband, John, of Manhattan, Kan., Jerry Kieffer and his wife, Jeannie, of Toledo, Ore., and Jeffrey Kieffer of Mountain Home; his sister, Mary L. Langendorfer of Junction, Ill.; ten grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by two daughters, Joan and Jean, one granddaughter, and three sisters.

The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to: The Nature Conservancy of Idaho, 1109 Main Street, Suite 333, Boise, ID 83702, or a favorite charity.