Note: Once using live stream link, please click on "live" for the livestream.
Life Story / Obituary
With a terrific sense of humor and an unwavering work ethic, Donn Kranz devoted his life to the well-being of his family. Donn was a jokester who always made life fun and never shied from the spotlight or a challenge. He embraced each day as a gift and faced his responsibilities with love, honor, and integrity, proving a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know him. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend, Donn will long be remembered and so very missed.
After years of misery brought on by the Great Depression and World War II, 1949 marked significant postwar prosperity as sales of cars, televisions, and other goods were demanded by a consumer society. The establishment of NATO, the first sale of a VW Beetle in the US, the first successful television sitcom, and the first Polaroid camera marked 1949 as a year of hope, growth, and consumerism. The nation’s focus was on family and building a brighter future. Nowhere was there more hope than in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin home of Donald and Thelma Kranz as they welcomed their son Donn to their family on June 11.
The second of nine children, Donn grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where his father owned and operated an auto repair shop in the hopes that his kids would take over one day. Sadly, his father died young, and in his absence, Donn’s responsibilities significantly increased. Fondly known as the “Prince of the family,” Donn always possessed a quick wit that inspired a lot of fun and much laughter, no matter how bleak the circumstances he might find himself in.
As a student at Henry Ford High School, Donn was a capable student who much preferred playing sports over academics. Baseball and basketball were always more important to him than scholarly pursuits. After graduating from high school, Donn attended Oakland University. However, after two years of college, he dropped out to support his mother and eight siblings.
In 1971, Donn made a fateful trip from Battle Creek, Michigan, for a first date at Bimbos that would forever change his life. In little time, Donn recognized his good fate in meeting and getting to know Kathy. On his drive back to that National Guard base in Battle Creek for roll call in the morning, he knew in his heart he had met his life partner. Not only did they share common friends, but more importantly, they also shared the same core values that focused on “family first. Always.”
With their hearts set on building a future with one another, Donn and Kathy were engaged in May of 1972. Despite Kathy’s mother’s suggestion that she not go through with the marriage and classic Metro Detroit traffic that resulted in her arriving forty-five minutes late to their wedding ceremony, Kathy and Donn joyfully exchanged their wedding vows the following November.
After celebrating their nuptials with family and friends, the newlyweds honeymooned at Disney World. Having opened just a year prior, the park was still very much a work in progress. Regardless, Donn and Kathy enjoyed the trip, which also included visiting with Kathy’s grandparents.
Once they returned to Michigan, the happy couple settled into married life. For ten years, Donn worked in grocery stores before transitioning to working with produce wholesalers. While his work was demanding and often required travel out of state, it afforded Donn the ability to afford his family comfort and security. Thirteen months after marrying, Donn and Kathy were thrilled to become parents when their son Donald was born. Daughter Amy arrived in 1976, and daughter Kelly followed in 1980. Donn confidently welcomed his role as an “old-fashioned” dad. As such, he willingly deferred the direct care to Kathy’s expert hands, preferring to concentrate on playing with the kids and, when called for, applying discipline.
Though his work demanded many hours away from home and took the family all over the midwest, Donn was an involved dad. In time, the family settled in West Michigan, and Donn always made it a point to show up to his children’s special events and activities. He loved helping his kids learn how to play sports and didn’t always tell his family his plans, enjoying their surprise when he showed up unannounced.
Having discussed adopting children prior to their marriage in 1989, Donn and Kathy fulfilled their desire to welcome more children to their family when they adopted Melissa and Larry. Five years later, in 1994, they adopted Pam and Mike. Fifteen years ago, with the adoption of Hailey, Lola, and Katie, the family was complete.
As his career came to a close, Donn relished the opportunity to spend time with his youngest daughters. Making up for not being able to be as present for his older children, he welcomed every moment he could share with the girls. He brought them to school every day, took them to Daddy-Daughter dances, watched them swim, attended their special events, and cheered on their every dream. Donn also continued to pursue his hobbies of community softball, fishing, and reading detective novels while growing his collection of legendary dad jokes. One of the greatest gifts Donn gave his family was the example of his fifty year marriage to Kathy. With a mutual affinity and true partnership, they firmly rooted their family in love, respect, and honor.
Without a doubt, life feels less certain in the absence of Donn’s steadfast love and support. As we find comfort in our many treasured memories, may we also find comfort in the honor of carrying Donn’s incredible legacy forward. In each moment, we willingly sacrifice for the good of others, explore a new fruit, enjoy a game of ball, cast our lines in a local fishing hole, or perfectly deliver a joke, we celebrate the many ways Donn made the world a better place. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.
It is with great sadness that the family of Donn Kranz announce his passing. Donn died peacefully at home Wednesday March 15,2023, at the age of 73. Born in Milwaukee, Donn was the third of ten children and grew up in Detroit, where he met and married the love of his life, Kathy, in 1972. They were married for fifty years and together raised three, then five, then seven and then ten children. Donn’s career took them all over the Midwest before the family eventually settled in West Michigan, where he continued to work in the produce business and pursue his hobbies of community softball, fishing, and reading detective novels. Donn is survived by his wife Kathy, his ten children and six grandchildren, as well as his siblings. A memorial mass will be held on Tuesday March 21 at St. Alphonsus Parish, 224 Carrier St NE Grand Rapids, MI 49505. Donn’s family will greet visitors from 10:00 am until the start of Mass at 11:00 am. To read more of Donn’s life story, or to leave a memory or condolence please see his memory page at www.heritagelifestory.com.