Donald Robert Payer
December 12, 1928 - April 3, 2020

Donald Robert  Payer

Donald Robert Payer
Dec 12, 1928 - Apr 3, 2020

Donald Robert  Payer
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Donald R. Payer died at age 91 on April 3, 2020, of heart disease and dementia at Green Hills Retirement Community. Due to Covid virus restrictions a private family memorial service will be zoomed at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, October 3, 2020 from St John's by the Campus Episcopal Church, in Ames, Iowa. Burial will follow at Ames Municipal Cemetery for family members only.

Don was born on December 12, 1928 in Fargo, North Dakota to Roy L. Payer and Catherine (Sullivan) Payer. His sister Patricia had been born 3 years earlier. Later the family moved to Kansas City Mo. where Roy worked for the Oldsmobile Corp. Don attended parochial schools and learned to play and caddy golf at a young age. In 1943 during WWII the family moved to Ames IA when his father Roy opened a Western Auto store on Main Street. Don was in Boy Scouts and received his Eagle Scout award in 1944. Don graduated from Ames High School in 1946 and then enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served on an LST making supply trips to the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. He was discharged in 1948 and enrolled at Iowa State College on the GI Bill. He met his future wife, Jan, in English 101 class. He later transferred to the University of Iowa and enrolled in the College of Law.

On September 6, 1953 Don married Janet Supernois in Council Bluffs, IA. and they lived for one year in Finkbine Court in Iowa City, IA. Don graduated in 1954 with his law degree and they moved back to Ames and Don "hung out his shingle" and started his law practice at 214 ½ Main St. He continued a law practice on Main Street for over 50 years with a final address at 535 Main St. He retired from the law practice when he was 80 and always loved his profession.

Don served on the Iowa State Bar Assn. Board of Governors, was a founding Director of the Story County Legal Aid Society in 1974, and served on the Board of the Ames Emergency Residence. Don was a past member of the Ames School Board, was a longtime member of the Board of Directors of the Story County Boys and Girls Club and served as Boy Scout Commissioner. Don was a Director of the Ames Chamber of Commerce, and received the "Unsung Hero Award" in 1994. He and Jan have enjoyed meeting the 23 Ames High winners of the Payer Family Scholarship since it began in 2000. Scholarships in Criminal Justice and Women in Science have also been established at Iowa State University. They received the Story County Alliance award for Individual Philanthropy in 2005.

Don served on the vestry and was ordained a Deacon in the Episcopal Church in 1995. He served as chaplain at the Story County Jail for 20 years and faithfully conducted three services every Sunday night at the jail, as well as weekly bible studies there with the Gideon Society. He carried on a correspondence for many years with former prisoners. He and Jan began the ministry of the Matthew 25 House in 2007 with the help of others and four Ames churches, this is a half-way house for men getting out of prison or jail. The House continues in operation today. In 2008 he received a "Friend of Corrections" award from the 2nd Judicial District, Iowa Dept. of Correctional Services. He was always interested in helping those in need.

Don enjoyed golf, tennis, hiking, biking and wood working. He and Jan camped in Europe, Alaska, Mexico, the US and Canada. Together they enjoyed ballroom dancing and the Red Friars Dance Club. He was a member of the Ames Lions Club and a loyal fan of the ISU Cyclones. Don knew no stranger and hailed all with "Top of the Morning" greeting.

Don was a family man and is survived by his wife Jan of 66 years, his daughter Christine (Payer) Hunziker, Ames, IA, his son Patrick Payer (Rhonda) of Pine, CO, four grandchildren, Megan Hunziker (Joe) Mulvihill of Overland Park, KS, Andrew (Kelsey) Hunziker of Ames, IA; and Brandon Payer and Carson Payer of Pine, CO. Also surviving are four great-grandchildren, Addison and Mason Mulvilhill and Aubrey and Hayden Hunziker, a niece Cay Sills and nephew John Ernest and many friends. A special friend is Aileen Sebastian-Koeiman, an ISU student from Malaysia now living in the Netherlands.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Patty Rua, son-in-law Gary Hunziker, and nephew Steve Ernest.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Story County Boys and Girls Club, The Matthew 25 House, Ames, IA. or St. John's by the Campus Episcopal Church, Ames IA. The family thanks all who have previously sent flowers, cards, calls and memorials in remembrance of Don.

Online condolences may be directed to:

Zoom memorial service link:

Victor Lathrop on Sep 27, 2020

I believe that Don was on the board of Legal Aide when I was hired as the second Director which first brought me to Story County and my legal career. Sorry to hear of his passing.

Steven Palm on Sep 24, 2020

It was a real pleasure meeting Don and Jan as the family was looking to donate his Boy Scout memories to our local Council's Heritage Committee. The exhibit at Camp Mitigwa the past summer brought a number of great comments.-Steve Palm, Heritage Committee Chairman, Mid-Iowa Council BSA.

Babasola Olugasa on Jun 24, 2020

Donald and Jan Payers with Babasola Olugasa

Babasola Olugasa on Jun 24, 2020

Donald Payer and Babasola Olugasa in front of St. John's Episcopal Church, July, 2013

Aileen Sebastian on Apr 16, 2020

To Jan, Chris, Pat, Megan, Andrew, Brandon, Carson and the four littles. Forgive my audacity to include myself in your membership club of painfully grieving for Don Payer. I count myself unimaginably blessed to have known, loved, and be loved by Don for the better part of 34 years, until his memory left little room for more than Jan, his soulmate of 66 years. Don was the answer to my dad’s fervent prayer to the Holy Spirit to protect me as I embarked upon a journey that would put me on many planes, and end up sitting next to Don and Jan on that last leg into Des Moines on January 5, 1986. He had me at hello, literally. That began a decades-long relationship that was faithful as much as it was guiding, loving and joyful. I looked forward to Sunday breakfasts at ISU together with Don’s dad. Don’s unmitigated love of God and actionable love for his “neighbors” taught me by example. His affable nature, love of walking, distrust of any unrecognizable food, virtual whiskies with my dad in Malaysia on their respective birthdays…all these made him so beloved to me and my growing family. The times I would put Asian food in front of him and he would squint and ask, what is that? Precious! My kids have memories of him (and Jan) sitting on the floor playing board games together, and they still use “top of the morning” as a greeting. Don and Jan never missed a graduation of mine. I could go on, but suffice it to say that my sorrowful and tearful heart has been in Ames since we lost Don and I will miss and love him always. Rest in peace, my dad-by-love.
Aileen Sebastian
- mournful in the Netherlands -

cindy gorman on Apr 12, 2020

Rest in peace dear cousin

Denise Lowry on Apr 12, 2020

Dear Jan ,Chris ,Patrick & Family , Don was a great person to know . Don & Jan took me in when I had no home , I was their foster daughter . Don was like a dad to me . Don & Jan was a team , I don't think their wasn't anything they couldn't do . Don always had me think positive ,always telling me you can do it . Don & Jan inspired me to look up & want better for my self . Don never let you down he was always their to pick you up . Don was the greatest dad I ever new . I know the Angles took him to heaven to be with God . God bless you Don . Now God will be with your family in their deepest sorrow . I send my deepest sympathy & love . - Denise Lowry

Chris Thurlimann on Apr 10, 2020

Don Payer, what a truly wonderful, great and generous man he was. We had the honor to know him for many years through our fathers, Don’s 2 dear friends in Austria and Switzerland: Pepi Schuler (†10/23/2019) and Bruno Thurlimann (†07/29/2008). As Don would say; “We will see each other again in heaven!”.
We send our heartfelt condolences to Jan, her daughter Chris and her son Patrick and their families.
- The Schuler and Thurlimann Families.

Michael Anderson on Apr 8, 2020

Dear Jan and Chris,
I just learned of Don's passing and my heart goes out to you. Don was such a constant at St. Johns, I can't recall a time he wasn't there in one capacity or another. He was deeply loved by many and my deepest sympathies go to you and your families. -Michael Anderson

Jean Kresse on Apr 8, 2020

Jan and family - my prayers go out to all of you know. Don was such a wonderful man. I am blessed to have known him all of these years. He will be missed by so many, including me. Jean Kresse

Rick clark on Apr 8, 2020

As my heart goes out to the family with only the finest memories my soul rejoices knowing that Don is at peace he made it his life's mission setting his sights for the day he would be in heaven with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ having been a longtime friend and confident I have seen integrity did he instituted in his law practice I've seen the devotion and love first to God and his wife Jan equally the compassion and support 2 all of his family the encouragement for everyone he met to be the best they can be in the most positive manner his love for his community and the people he came in contact with from the governor to the people coming out of prison he treated everyone with the same respect and everyone that knew him I would walk away saying yes that is a man of God the Christ within him allowed for many people to see Christ on Earth his compassion and care for are all living things whether it be the birds of the air the animals on the ground or the people called friend his consistency and dependability never wavered he made everyone feel comfortable and from here in Ames to the depths of Austria due to his acts of kindness the world has benefited and continues to benefit today tomorrow and forever I for one and they better and more positive person having had known my friend Don Payer he was an inspiration to do good everyday of his life and his memory still inspires everyone he knew especially me still today

Michael Callison on Apr 7, 2020

Dear Jan, Chris, Patrick and Family, no words can express my sorrow in the passing of Don. I did not have the pleasure of knowing him as long as I would have liked to, but in the short time that I knew him he left a lasting mark on my life. Beyond a shadow of a doubt he was one of the most decent, Christian men I have ever known. Please know that I am thinking of you and all your family as you remember and celebrate the life of the person I think of as Uncle Don. I know that all the Angels in Heaven were waiting at the gates of Heaven to wrap their loving arms around him. May God Bless Don always! ❤️ 🙏

Joyce Hagley on Apr 7, 2020

So sorry for your loss. Praying for the whole family.

Andy Amin on Apr 6, 2020

Know Don since 1983. Had a great time to gather playing tennis , had a great memories working to gather. Nice of him and Jan attending my son Ankur’s wedding in India year 2004. My sympathy to his family. Andy Amin

Jean Lundblad Libbey on Apr 6, 2020

Jan: My daughter-in-law, sent Don's obituary to me. Since I don't see the DM Register I was grateful for her doing that. My thoughts go out to you; no matter the circumstances of death, it is difficult to lose one's life partner. My thoughts are with you. I've always held you in high regard and send you my love. Jean Lundblad Libbey

Terry Rassmussen on Apr 5, 2020

I remember Don very well. he and I worked together on the board for the boys and girls clubs of Ames.
I also remember him in his ministry for people who are in jail.
My sympathy to his family

Chuck DeKovic on Apr 5, 2020

Chris and Patrick, we are so sorry for your loss. Your father was an incredible man with such a big heart. He was certainly a pillar in the Ames community and will be deeply missed. Cherish the fond memories and the impact he had on so many lives.

Greg Steensland on Apr 5, 2020

Don was my first mentor in the practice of law. My sincere condolences to his family. Greg

Susan on Apr 3, 2020

My heart just broke learning that Don had passed away. At least he had one more St. Patrick's Day to celebrate..... Susan



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