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Donald J. 'Don' Dreiling

Published on -7/9/2013, 9:42 AM

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Donald J. "Don" Dreiling, 87, Overland Park, Kansas, died peacefully Saturday, July 6, 2013, at Clare Bridge located in the Sweet Life at Brookdale in Overland Park. He was born in Victoria, Kansas, on March 19, 1926, to Richard A. and Mollie (Eichman) Dreiling. He wed the love of his life, Dolores T. Schmidt, on October 18, 1948, in Catharine, Kansas.

Don was raised on 16th Street in Hays, Kansas, along with his eight siblings in a household full of love, chaos and generosity; there was always "room for one more" at Rich and Mollie's dinner table. He attended St. Joseph Grade School and graduated from St. Joseph Military Academy in 1944. Soon after high school, he was called to service in the U.S. Army/Air Force as a pilot trainee. The end of the war brought him back to Hays, where he enrolled in classes at Fort Hays State College, followed by studies and graduation at the Coyne Radio Institute in Chicago.

He began a career in retail sales with his father in their hardware store in downtown Hays. Following his father's untimely death in 1953, Don took over ownership and management of Dreiling Hardware & Appliance on 13th Street, operating at that location until the early 1970s. He sold everything from paint to electronics to furniture and appliances, in addition to providing appliance and electronic repair.

Don also had an extremely active role with the Knights of Columbus throughout his life earning leadership positions at the local and state level, ultimately resulting in his service as State Deputy of Kansas in the late 1960s. In 1971, he closed his business in downtown Hays and began a career working for the Knights of Columbus. He served as a program consultant, traveling the United States assisting local and state councils with the implementation of service programs on the fraternal level. Eventually Don and Dolores relocated to Connecticut where Don worked in the home office for the Knights of Columbus, retiring in 1991 as the administrative assistant to the Supreme Knight. Among his most treasured moments in service of the K of C were his opportunities to meet privately with Pope John Paul II and with Mother Teresa. In 1985, Don was bestowed with the honor of Knight of St. Gregory by Pope John Paul II.

Following his retirement, Don and Dolores returned to the Midwest, settling in Overland Park, Kansas. Don devoted full-time to his vocation of woodworking and cabinetry designing and creating numerous functional and artistic pieces. He also began designing and building hundreds of toys each year. At Christmastime, Don and Dolores would deliver the toys to children's organizations and residential institutions in the Kansas City area. He found great joy seeing children enjoying his creations.

Throughout his life, Don openly offered his talents to others, setting an example for his family that the world is a better place when we give freely of ourselves. Gifted as a musician, he sang in barbershop quartets and choirs during his early years but he was particularly known for his outstanding work singing in church choirs for 42 years. He shared his leadership skills on a civic level as an elected member of Hays USD 489 school board in the 1970s and was active as a member and officer in the Hays Chamber of Commerce throughout his retail career. He was president of the SJMA Alumni Association (now TMP-Marian) and served his home parish of St. Joseph Church in numerous ways. Don was a life-long member of K of C Council No. 1325 and the Bishop Cunningham Fourth Degree Assembly. He was a parishioner at Church of the Nativity in Leawood, Kansas.

Don is survived by his wife, Dolores; two daughters, Miki Baird and husband, Curt, Overland Park, and Carolyn Hammerschmidt and husband, Neil, Bowie, Maryland; son Tony Dreiling and wife, Cyndy, Hays; five grandchildren, Jamie Baird, Milwaukee, Jennifer Baird, Chicago, Susan Dreiling, Hays, Maria O'Reardon, Fort Hood, Texas, and Adam Hammerschmidt of Shelburne, Vermont; great-grandchild, Zavier Hammerschmidt, Shelburne, Vermont; brother, Eugene and wife, Flo, Highlands Ranch, Colorado; sister, JoAnn Jayjack, Orange Park, Florida. Also surviving are brother-in-law Bob Schlyer, Hays, and sisters-in-law Donna Jean Dreiling, Hays, and Mickey Dreiling, Portland, Texas.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a daughter, Mary; two grandchildren, Daniel Hammerschmidt and Mary Christina Hammerschmidt; four brothers, Norbert, Dean, James and Thomas; and two sisters, Dolores "Tootsie" Schlyer and Mary Katherine Bieker.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Friday, July 12, 2013, at St. Joseph Catholic Church. Burial with military honors by the Hays American Legion will be in the St. Joseph Cemetery, Hays. Friends may call from 4 until 8 p.m. Thursday and from 9 until 9:45 a.m. Friday, all at Hays Memorial Chapel Funeral Home, 1906 Pine. The Bishop Cunningham Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus will stand honor guard from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home. A Daughters of Isabella rosary will be at 6 p.m., a parish vigil service will be at 6:30 p.m., followed by a Third and Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus rosary at 7 p.m., all Thursday at the funeral home. Memorials are suggested to the Capuchin Province of Mid America or to TMP-Marian High School in care of the funeral home. Condolences may be left for the family at www.haysmemorial.com.

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