Click link below to view the livestream of Donald's memorial service:
Donald Ray Brezicka went to join The Lord in Heaven on May 5, 2022 at Mary Greeley Hospice House in Ames, Iowa supported and surrounded by loving family. He passed after a long battle with cancer and a shorter but equally devastating battle with Alzheimer disease. He was born May 25, 1948 to Ray and Joy (Pierson) in Britton, South Dakota. The family moved to the Bozeman, Montana area when he was a toddler, and he lived there until finishing college. His love of the mountains and his "cowboy at heart" spirit came from those years in Montana.
Don's greatest love was his family. His daughters are Barbara (Matt) Kleinke of Tigard, Oregon, Bryn (Dave) Kosack of Paradise Valley, Arizona, and Jennifer Zirbes of Washington State. He married the love of his life, Karen Wheelock Brezicka, in 1987.
After graduating from Montana State University and passing the CPA exam, he worked for Blue Cross/Blue Shield in both Montana and Chicago. He obtained a master's degree in health care administration from the University of Wisconsin, and then became the Administrator of Berlin Hospital and Nursing Home in Berlin, Wisconsin. He spent the last 25 plus years of his career first as the hospital administrator of St. Olaf Hospital in Austin, Minnesota, and then as the Chief Operating Officer of the Austin Medical Center when it became part of the Mayo Health System. He retired in 2008. In retirement he helped an entrepreneur in Arizona with a healthcare related project.
Don loved people and struck up conversations with people wherever he went. He had a unique knack for making people feel recognized and special. His laugh was a joy to hear, and he had a great sense of humor. He was a hard worker and good businessperson, but also had a creative side learning first wood carving and then sculpting. He also enjoyed golfing, fishing with his Dad in Montana, skiing, and learning new things. Don was a fun loving, kind and gentle man and will be deeply missed.
He is preceded in death by his parents and grandparents. He is survived by his wife, daughters, and six grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Thursday, May 12, 2022, at 11:00 a.m., at Saint Cecilia's Catholic Church, 2900 Hoover Ave, Ames, Iowa, with a burial to follow at Ames Municipal Cemetery. A visitation will be held on Wednesday, May 11, from 4-6:00 p.m. at Grandon Funeral and Cremation Care, 414 Lincoln Way, Ames, Iowa.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Mary Greeley Medical Center Hospice or Alzheimer Association.
A livestream link will be provided for Don's funeral service.
Online condolences may be directed to www.grandonfuneralandcremationcare.com
Karen, My heart goes out to you at this sad time. He adored you. He was a gentle soul who wore his heart on his sleeve. No matter how short on time he may have been, he always took the time to ask how you were and listen..really listen to you. The hospital was so lucky to have him and we were all beneficiaries of his care as we roamed those halls during our working years. After those working years, I shared my poetry with him and he shared the passionate project he was working on. He believed in creativity and the enrichment it brought. I will miss seeing him at church and elsewhere and miss his smile and hugs. He certainly was a wonderful human messenger of God's love here on earth. I will pray for his life, now in God's care. God Bless, Karen. Vicky King in Austin
Karen, I am so sorry for your loss. I am so thankful to have know both of you. Don was one of the sweetest, most kind person I have ever know. He was always concerned about others. He will truly be missed. Lisa (Hasley) Sathre
Sympathies and prayer from the Joneta Wheelock/Bell families. May Don rest in peace.
I am devastated to hear of Don’s passing. To me he was the King of Kings. Don was my best friend, always asked about my family. He would look me up in the hospital cafeteria wanting to chat as he so loved to do. He told me what a valuable employee I was, I’ll always remember those words. I have never met such a kind person as Don was. Karen and family, you have my sympathy. Rest In Peace my friend. Darlene Fickbohm Johnson, Lyle, Minnesota.
Karen and Family,
We are so very sorry to hear of Don’s death. You will be in our prayers.
Sue and Jim Anderson
We have so many good memories of our times with Don.
He hired me to work at St. Olaf Hospital early in my career. That was life changing because of the confidence, support and mentoring he gave me. Our relationship, as couples with Don and Karen, is filled with warm and fun times. We had a tradition of being together on New Years' Eves, in Austin and places like Lanesboro and Duluth. We remember a North Shore adventure. Don even indulged me in my jar collecting hobby by going along to a convention in Indiana.
There was always a special, delightful kind of humor with Don. We feel a great sadness in his passing and will always carry him in our hearts.
Jerry and Joan Lilja
I met Don when I came for interview to Austin Medical Center. He gave me a cookie and greeted so warmly. We talked about Sedona and his sculpting work and that was such a fresh breath. Karen , Don and I became good friends over time and my heart still aches for both of them. I miss him so much. Don was such a kind leader and most compassionate person. My sincerest thoughts are with his family and his daughters. Lots of love to you, Karen.
Dear Brezicka Family,
I, like many others, had the good fortune to work with Don at the Austin Medical Center. He was one of a kind - a bright man, a strong leader, and a compassionate and caring individual.
My sincere condolences to his family and friends,
Don was an amazing man, not only as an administrator at Austin Medical Center, but in his personal life. Always knew your name, asked how your family was. His sense of humor, kindness and compassion made him someone you had to get to know. He made people feel special, like you were the only one in the room when he was talking to you. He and Karen both were just a lovely couple. He will be missed by so many. I’m so thankful to have known him. My condolences to Karen, his daughters and his family. Don, Mary and I will have a piece of apple pie and coffee in your honor. Rest easy my friend
Spent many good times with Don. He was fun, charming and always complimentary. A smart, witty and kind man, Lyn & Earnie Foshe’
Don was a special caring man and leader. He truly cared about you and was always interested in your work life and your life outside of work. I remember fondly many conversations we had over the years at work. It makes me sad to know that he is gone.
Don was the kindest and most respectful upper management I had ever met. When I was new to the medical center, he came up an introduced himself to me, He knew everyone and their names and what their job description was. Rest in Peace my friend, you will be missed by many.
Don was a great man and a mentor to me in my first leadership position, he was kind and caring and I’m sad he had to go through so much in the last years of his life
Don was a hard worker who cared about all of his employees! He ALWAYS had a genuine smile for every employee. He knew us all by name-AMAZING-! Would ask about your family...Knew you had 2 boys or 3 girls...Always admired his ability to remember names, faces, etc.. What a kind soul he was... Remember having a baby shower for a co-worker at an Austin establishment..He & his wife were dining out. He walked over to our table and greeted and hugged everyone of us "Old Timers" with tears in his eyes!! He truly was a man who loved life!! RIP Don you will be missed. Rhonda Schneider Underdahl, RN : St Olaf Hospital, Austin Medical Center, Mayo Health Systems Austin, MN
Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Having an opportunity to meet Don and develop a friendship with him was a blessing in my life. Anyone who knew Don would probably feel the same way, as he had a gift that made you feel that you were so important to him. His genuine and positive disposition was infectious. Don was a bright light, and he will be missed.
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Ames, IA 50010
Ames, Iowa 50010