Donovan's Story

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Donovan Raymond Kiessel, 71, of Bingham Township, passed away Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at home surrounded by his loving family.
Donovan was born Aug. 22, 1946 in Suttons Bay at the family farm house on the corner of County Road 633 and Fort Road. He was the son of Frank Kiessel Sr. and Rita (Priest) Kiessel.
On July 3, 1965 at St. Michael's Church of Suttons Bay he married Janet (Showers) Kiessel who was his best friend and love of his life for 55 years and had three children. Don's Catholic faith was a very important part of his life, he was a life-long member of St. Michael's Catholic Church.
Don worked as a lineman at Consumers Energy for 35 years. He enjoyed seeing the smiles on people's faces after he had helped turn their electricity back on. Even after he "retired" Don worked another 10 years for other line companies as a contractor. Don never complained about having to leave his family to go help others. He would leave to far off areas that were affected by a storm or a natural disaster to help restore the power to those communities.
In addition to being a lineman, he was a cherry farmer. In 1976, Don and Jan with Don's brother, Bill and his wife, Betty started a small cherry farm that grew into a larger operation known now as Kiessel Farms. He enjoyed every minute of his busy work and farm life with his family being involved, he taught them work ethic and farming knowledge. Most recently, along with his brother they were awarded the 2018 Cherry Industry Lifetime Achievement award for outstanding service and exceptional leadership in the world of cherries.
Don was the founding member of the Rex Dobson Ruby Ellen Farm Foundation, his knowledge and wisdom guided the Ruby Ellen Farm Board of Trustees for 17 years. Don was also a member of the Bingham Township Planning Commission and a 25-year member of the Suttons Bay Bingham Fire and Rescue Dept. He was a 30-year member of the Knights of Columbus.
Don enjoyed being with friends that he shared a lifetime of memories with. A special event that he looked forward to every year for the past 30 years was their annual food Garbage Can Party. This event was attended by many of their life-long friends. Don looked forward to this day every year and the many stories that were always shared. Some of these friends now continue their memories by wintering in the same community as Don and Jan did in Florida.
A passion and hobby for Don was his love for hunting. He enjoyed teaching his sons and grandsons the craft of hunting, on occasion he would get one of his granddaughters out hunting in his blind with him. He also enjoyed an annual trip to the Upper Peninsula in the fall to a "Kiessel Cabin" for deer camp, a tradition that was enjoyed by his dad, brothers, sons, grandsons, and nephews.
Don's busy life had him building memories with his children and family, he was always a kid at heart. He and Jan faithfully attended countless children's and grandchildren's school sporting and other events.
When grandchildren came into his life Don would always be rolling on the ground, playing games, tricks, and getting in trouble with them, there was never a dull moment when grandpa was around. He loved amusement parks with his kids and grandkids and made sure that they were always running to be first in line and in the first seat of the highest and fastest roller coaster.
Don was a man with a foundation of faith with an unending love for his family, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The family expresses their deepest thanks to Hospice of Michigan for the wonderful care to Don.
Donovan is survived by his wife, Janet; his children, Donovan L. (Diane) Kiessel, Edward J. (Dulce) Kiessel, Jody Kiessel; his grandchildren, Katie (Chris) Skowronski, Chris and Nick Kiessel, Shane and Shantel Francis, Camilla, Michka and Landen Kiessel; his great-grandchildren, Mackenzie, Carter and Isaiah Skowronski; his siblings, Bill (Betty) Kiessel, Frank (Marilu) Kiessel, Janet (Ron) Send, Randy (Debbie) Kiessel, Gary (Betty) Kiessel, Vic (Janice Sue) Kiessel, Sue (Gary) Herman; his sister-n-law, April Showers-Cox; and many loving nieces, nephews and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Rita Kiessel.
Visitation will be held from 3 p.m. to the 7 p.m. prayer service on Friday, Jan. 19 at the Martinson Funeral Home of Suttons Bay. The Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20 at St. Michael's Church of Suttons Bay. Father Leonard Paul will serve as celebrant.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Rex Dobson Ruby Ellen Farm Foundation, PO Box 492, Suttons Bay, MI 49682; Leelanau Conservancy, PO Box 1007, Leland, MI 49654 and/or Mass Intentions.
Please share condolences with Donovan's family at www.martinson.info.
Arrangements are with the Martinson Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Leelanau.
Published on January 17, 2018
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