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Published: Thursday, 8/14/2014

Donald Kaiser: 1929-2014; Excavating owner was on council in Holland


Donald C. Kaiser, a former Holland councilman who was considered an icon in the village, died Saturday at ProMedica St. Luke’s Hospital. He was 84.

Mr. Kaiser suffered chest pains and was admitted to the hospital, and three days later he died from a heart attack, his daughter Debra said.

“This hit all of us like a concrete wall,” because he was so active yet, she said.

Kaiser Kaiser

Mr. Kaiser was appointed to Holland Village Council in 1978 and served seven years. He served as the village streets commissioner, Holland Mayor Mike Yunker said.

He brought expertise in construction to his government role. He was employed by E.K. Bridge Construction Co. for more than 35 years and operated his own business, K&S Excavating Co. for several years, his daughter said.

He played a key role in getting the first phase of a major sanitary and storm sewer project off the ground, which helped modernize the village infrastructure, Mayor Yunker said. His efforts launched the long-term modernization project that others continued after Mr. Kaiser’‍s time on council.

When he left council, he reflected on his time as commissioner in a 1985 Blade article.

“I ran for council just to see what I could contribute, but it worked out that the needs of the village and my work with sewer installation came together at the same time. It’s really what I know best and I think I’ve been able to get the project started right,” Mr. Kaiser said.

He was born Dec. 18, 1929, in Maumee, to George and Caroline Kaiser. His father worked for the former Doehler-Jarvis Co. in Toledo and the family moved to Holland when he was very young, his wife, Rita, said.

Mr. Kaiser met the former Rita Wilczynski at Holland High School and they married Sept. 17, 1949, a few years after graduating.

He started in the construction business in high school, working part time in the summer. After returning from serving in the Army during the Korean War, he resumed work at E.K. Bridge Construction Co., his wife said. He worked his way up to superintendent and helped build much of I-75 in the Toledo area, she said.

“He was a fighter for Holland,” his wife said, adding the village was just a little dot on the map and he wanted it to have a better future.

Surviving are his wife, Rita; son, Donald; daughter, Debra, and five grandchildren.

Visitation is 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday in Neville Funeral Home. Services are 10 a.m. Monday in Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.

Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at mtaylor@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.

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