Donald Klaus went to be with the Lord on February 13, 2022, after a brief stay in the hospital battling COVID, pneumonia and an underlying lung condition. Donald was born August 5, 1942, to Werner and Ester (Nieman) Klaus in Wilson, TX. He attended school at Wilson ISD and graduated in 1960. He was a lifelong member of St. John Lutheran Church in Wilson having been baptized on September 27, 1942. In 1957, he confirmed his faith under the guidance of Pr. Malcolm Hoffman along with Milton Ehlers, Rodney Maeker, Albert Rinne, Buck Rinne and Stanley Krause, and the men maintained a special friendship throughout their lives. Donald served on the church council at St. John in various positions and served the larger church as a member of the NT/NL Synod Council.
Donald married Carolyn Luker on June 1, 1963. They lived in a small home in Wilson until 1964 when they moved to the farm where they raised their three daughters, Tonda, Cindy, and Melissa, and their “adopted” son, Gus Michaelis. Eventually they returned to living in Wilson.
After attending Texas Tech for two years, Donald focused on cotton farming with his dad. During the 1980s, he participated with a water project to bring effluent water to the Wilson area for irrigation that prompted him and three other farmers to start raising alfalfa. When he retired from farming, he began working for Lutheran Social Services running their Lifeline Program. He traveled all over the state installing home alert units for people as well as making presentations in churches and community groups promoting the program. After his stint with Lifeline, he became the manager of Red Wing Shoes in Lubbock and loved meeting and greeting people as he provided them with properly fitting work boots.
Community was important to Donald, and he was always willing to serve. He served on the Wilson ISD School Board for twelve years. He served on the Wilson City Council for eight years beginning in 1989, and then was elected mayor in 2008 and served for 10 years. He was an active member of the Wilson Lions Club and served in area and regional positions as well as being a Lions Camp Ambassador. In recent years he was instrumental in the formation of the Wilson Wind Farms to bring the benefits of wind farming to the area and served two terms as the first president of that board beginning in 2011.
Donald’s real passion was always his family especially his kids and grandkids. He regularly attended sporting events, plays, band concerts and contests, and any other activity that they participated in, and he was an ardent fan of the Wilson Mustangs, Tahoka Bulldogs and Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Donald was preceded in death by his parents, Werner and Ester Klaus, and one granddaughter, Kyia Mendez. Those left to cherish his memory are his wife, Carolyn; one sister, Audrey Gruhlkey of Adrian; daughters Tonda Freitag of Tahoka, Cindy Klaus of Wilson, Melissa Mendez (Danny) of Wilson; and “adopted” son, Leroy Gus Michaelis (Sylvia) of Kermit. He also leaves behind seven grandchildren: Joshua (Alesha) Freitag of Lamesa; Benjamin Freitag of Tahoka; Sarah (Justin) Fuhrman of Lubbock; Alaura (Jordan) Mendez Guzman of Wilson; and Zackk, Bryan, and Justin Mendez of Wilson. Pops will be greatly missed by seven great-grandchildren as well: Luke, Jacob, and Ruthie Freitag; Claire Fuhrman; Analiyah, Easton, and Myles Guzman; along with brothers-and sisters-in law and numerous nieces, nephews, and their children.
A family led Memorial Service will be held Saturday, February 19, 2022, at 10:30 at St. John Lutheran Church in Wilson with his daughter, Tonda Freitag, PLM, presiding. The family requests memorials be made to St. John Lutheran Church, PO Box 7, Wilson, TX, 79381 or at https://get.tithe.ly