Call Us at (563) 242-3344


Donald H. Kolsrud - 85

8/21/1934 - 4/9/2020

Iowa City, Iowa

     Donald H. Kolsrud, age 85 of Iowa City, formerly of Clinton, passed away April 9, 2020 at the University of Iowa Hospitals.  A private graveside service was held at  Oakland Cemetery' a celebration of life will be held at a later date.  The Pape Funeral Home assisted the family.


     Donald was born in Davenport, Iowa on August 21, 1934, the son of Harris and Lucille (Greiser) Kolsrud.  Don's parents struggled, and eventually he moved to LeClaire, Iowa, to live on a farm. Don had an amazing work ethic that he credits to his experiences working on the farm.  He graduated from DeWitt High School while living with Ray and Helen Cole, where he furthered his work ethic at Ray's gas station. He excelled at football and track, and continued his athletic achievements at the Iowa Teachers College, (now University of Northern Iowa) where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Business Education.  Donald served with the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1959 as a radio operator. He earned awards for his good conduct and his excellent marksmanship.  After leaving the Army and completing his Master's Degree, Don moved to Clinton Iowa and began teaching, eventually moving into the role of assistant principal. He married the love and light of his life Judith Reter on June 6, 1963 in Clinton.  Judith passed away on December 5, 2016

   Don and his family later moved to Dubuque in 1972 where he served as principal at Dubuque Senior High (Go Rams!).  A school board member who helped hire Don described him as possessing the qualities of "kindness, humility, tact, intelligence, compassion, charisma, and above all honesty." In 1977, Don convinced Sylvester Stallone who was filming a movie in Dubuque, to attend the Senior Prom one of many acts that earned him a spot as a student favorite.  Don ended his career in Brooking, South Dakota, "teaching those kids how to be principals because apparently they think I'm pretty good at it".  


The walls in Don's apartment were covered in awards he received as teacher and principal, and he never hesitated to express his love of education and students to anyone who listen. "There were no bad kids, only bad parents" was a favorite saying.  Don and Judy returned to Clinton in 1993, taking up residence in their century old brick home on Garfield Avenue.   In 2015, they moved to Iowa City to be closer to their daughter, the author Alex Brooklyn Bright.  


  He had been a member of the First Presbyterian Church.  He enjoyed teaching in Sunday School, singing, and he was active in the Masonic Lodge. In his later years, Don had some health issues.  Through it all, he exhibited his unique brand of "struggle and rise", a trait he passed on to his daughter.  


     Donald is survived by a daughter, Alex Brooklyn Bright (Bill Nitschke)  of Iowa City; a brother, Charles (Danelda) Kolsrud of Tucson, AZ and a step-brother, Reed Kolsrud of Camanche,  step-brother Roger Kolsrud , step-sister Darlene Diaz, sister in law Ann Johnstone, and several nieces and nephews.   He was preceded in death by his parents, a step sister Dolores Vozella and his wife.  Online condolences may be left at and memorials may be made to Foundation for Dubuque Public Schools or the UNI Foundation.  



Graveside Service:

A private graveside service was held at Oakland Cemetery, a Celebration of Life service will be held at a later date. The Pape Funeral Home assisted the family.

View Donald H. Kolsrud's Guestbook

Recent Obituaries

Charles H. Horner, Sr., 84

Clinton, Iowa

George “G.W.” Foster, 80

Thomas F. Hayes, III, 81

Clinton, Iowa

Edward C. Zirbes, 91

Clinton, IA

Diana Schumacher, 80

Clinton, Iowa

John R. Sawvell Sr., 70

Clinton, IA

William E., 80

Oelwein, Iowa