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Donald Etter

donald etter
Donald Etter age 84 of Ionia, IA, died Monday, October 24, 2022, at his home. The family is hosting a memorial gathering from 5 to 7PM on November 2nd at the Borlaug Center in Nashua, Iowa Don was born November 2, 1937 in rural Chickasaw County, Iowa, the son of Fred and Marie (Tigges) Etter. In 1939 the family moved to Bracewell, Colorado. Don graduated from Windsor high school in 1955. One of Don’s passions in life has been great looking cars. He met Geraldine Measner while cruising the main drag in Greeley in his 1955 Chevy. He was driving a 1956 Chevy when they were married June 7, 1959. Don and Gerrie began married life in a renovated garage in Johnstown Colorado. He worked lots of shifts at the Carnation Milk Condensery and bought his next car, a brand new 1960 Chevy Impala sports coupe with all the extra chrome. He became a certified welder while working for Carnation and received an engineering award for inventing and installing a device to synchronize the automated milk bottling line. The plant didn't ask him to do it, he just wanted to stop all the bottle breakage. In 1962 the couple bought their first property, 7 1/2 acres on the wrong side of Broad Street in Milliken, Colorado, and created the town’s first trailer court. Don kept a couple of milk cows in a small barn behind the trailers. (He had also snuck some tractors onto the property while living in Johnstown.) In 1965 Don surprised Gerrie with the information that they were dairy farmers. The couple rented a 160 acre farm from Ernest and Phillip Tigges and started a Brown Swiss dairy operation. Over the years they acquired three kids (Rhonda, Jeff, and Fred), some more Allis Chalmers tractors and some great farm trucks. In 1969 the family sold the herd, loaded up the best farm equipment and bought a farm rural Ionia, Iowa. No more irrigation. Farming was hard over the next years but the couple stuck with in. Don helped Gerrie in her upholstery shop, doing frame repairs and car interiors. He was an accomplished mechanic. He used his welding skills to rebuild and beef up his farm equipment to last much longer than the manufacturer intended. In September 1992 Don and Gerrie retired from farming. They sold the dairy herd but kept the Allis Chalmers tractors, occasionally picking up more vintage tractors at auctions. Don and Gerrie began the task of converting their dairy barn into a three story bed and breakfast. They opened for business in 1996. Their first guests were riding bikes across Iowa as part of RAGBRAI. Don and Gerrie have hosted many amazing guests at the Dairy Barn Bed and Breakfast over the last years. Don always said that visiting with guests from all over the world was his favorite part of his job. He made great coffee, too. Don served in the community, too. You may have met him at the Nashua School Board meetings, the Chickasaw County Agricultural Extension Council, or the Brown Swiss Association meetings. In 2008, Don bought a bright red 1 ton Chevy Silverado 3500 with Duramax and duallies. Don and Gerrie enjoyed driving this pride and joy to visit family across the U.S. And for Costco or Sam’s grocery runs for the B & B. Don is survived by his wife, Geraldine Etter, brother Vernon (Pat) Etter, sisters Virginia (Charles) Schlepp and Darlene Dice, daughter Rhonda Etter, sons Jeff (Cynthia) Etter, and Fred (Michelle) Etter, grandchildren Donya Schroeder, India May, Jacob Weaver, Lorah (Justin) Sirbaugh, Emily Etter and Colin Etter and great grandchildren Artemis, Cindy, Wyatt and Charlotte and many nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Harold Etter and sister Marion Starnes and his beloved dog, Alfie. Don and his son, Fred, have collected more than 50 vintage Allis Chalmers tractors and many other Allis implements. Well done.

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