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Donald C Steichen

Donald C Steichen

Donald Charles Steichen passed away at his home on May 8, 2023 due to heart failure. He was 70 years old.

Donald was born on May 28, 1952 in Detroit Lakes, MN to Milton and Leone (Anderson) Steichen, and was raised on a dairy farm in Ogema, MN. He was 1 of 9 children. After graduating from Waubun High School in 1970 he worked a variety of jobs before getting drafted into the U.S. Army. During in-processing he was given the choice of joining the Air Force instead, and he took it. His decision was a wise one as he got to travel Europe and earned his private pilot’s license. Donald loved to fly and eventually owned 6 airplanes, and he had the time of his life flying with his Uncle Dan Steichen.

Donald left the Air Force in 1978 to take over the family dairy farm. Donald met his beautiful wife Jean Pouillie of Necedah, WI at a mutual friend’s wedding in 1982. He impressed her with his sense of humor by wearing the bride’s veil and carrying a high heel as he collected money for the dollar dance. They married on April 28, 1984 and later had four children.

Donald went back into military service in the “Happy Hooligans” Air Guard out of Fargo, ND and stayed in until 1992. The dairy farm became a sheep farm by 1986 and was quite a journey for Donald and Jean as they knew nothing about sheep. In 1990 Donald got a job with the State of Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) and by the Fall of 1993 Donald and Jean moved their four young children and the entire sheep operation to a 40-acre farm outside of Elmwood, WI where they shared many wonderful and memorable years together.

As the years went by Donald truly enjoyed helping his children with 4-H projects, especially in Sheep and Horse categories; it made the summers very busy and entertaining. After their children graduated, Donald and Jean slowly reduced the size of their flock, the max being 1200, until they retired out of sheep in the Fall of 2013.

Following a stroke in 2018, Donald retired from MNDOT after 28 & 1/2 years. He spent the last five years traveling and enjoying time with his wife, children, and grandchildren. He was a member of the Elmwood American Legion and the Knights of Columbus. Donald never shied away from a challenge, even if it meant he had to run down the road in all kinds of weather conditions to lend a helping hand. He always enjoyed a good project and was really good at giving the best life advice. Donald left behind the love he found in life.

Donald is survived by his wife Jean of 39 years, his 4 children, Aaron, Faye (Ted Young), Nadja (Jace Kittel), and Rae (Jack Dillow), 7 grandchildren, and 6 siblings: MaryAnna(MN), Aldean(FL), Leonard(MN), Cleone(FL), Tim(FL), and Rebecca(FL). He is preceded in death by his parents Milton and Leone, and 2 brothers Peter and Daniel.

Funeral Mass will be 11:00AM Friday, May 19, 2023 at St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Eau Galle with Rev. Jerry Hoeser officiating. Burial will be church cemetery with Military Honors provided by the Elmwood American Legion. Visitation will be from 4:00PM-7:00PM Thursday at the Rhiel Funeral Home in Durand and one hour prior to services at the church on Friday.

Rhiel Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Durand, is serving the family.


  1. Dutch Elbe

    Dear Jean, My deepest sympathies go out to you and the family in the recent passing of your beloved Donald. He will be remembered always as a good sociable neighbor.

  2. Gary G Hinkel

    Hi Jean, My condolences to you and your family. Me and Don served our whole tour of duty in the A.F. together. We traveled many countries together with so many great memories. I remember meeting Don at Soesterburg air base and we talked for hours about dairy farming. we then traveled to Mt Home air base and a lot of memories there with snowmobiling and mountain trips. Such a great guy who made a difference in my life. Keep Faith, Gary G Hinkel

  3. John & Donna Lee

    Jean, we are so sorry for your loss. We will miss the hours long phone chats and the wonderful letters Don would send, complete with well enscribed envelopes! We will hold you and your entire family close in our hearts during this very sad and difficult time. John especially will miss his Air Force buddy. What great adventures they shared. Hugs!

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