Lichlyter helped others through benefitsApril 9, 2021
By CANDY NEAL
JASPER — Don Lichlyter was known for the dozens of benefits and fundraisers he organized for people battling serious and terminal illnesses.
Through those, he raised thousands of dollars — all of which went to help those folks and their families with their expenses.
“He loved doing things for people and if he could help, he would,” his wife, Eura “Pete” Lichlyter, said. “He would help anybody. He had a heart of gold.”
Don died Tuesday at his Jasper home. He was 77.
Dorothy Hall, Don’s sister, said her brother has always been a kind and caring person.
“He was a very generous man,” she said. “He had a lot of hardships in his life. And that’s why he was so willing to help somebody, where they can get through it and not have the problems he had.”
In the late 1960s, when Don and Pete were a young couple, they lost their son, Don Jr., to leukemia just shy of Junior’s fourth birthday.
“When our son died of leukemia, we needed a lot of help,” Pete said. “That’s why he got into that, helping others. Our son died, and even a year after he died, we were still paying bills.
“He didn’t want people to through that.”
“He knew it takes a lot of money to keep things going,” Dorothy said. “That’s why he helped people.”
The first benefit Don helped organize was for his nephew, who had a brain tumor. “We had it at the Legion. And then we moved to the Moose because it was bigger,” Pete recalled.
He organized dozens of others for people all over the county. Some of the people he knew personally. But a lot of them, he didn’t. “They would call and ask him to help,” Pete said. “Or we would find out about the people, or hear that someone was going through something and needed help.”
His typical benefit was a dinner, bake sale and raffle. “It took a lot of time, but he was very good at that,” Pete said, “asking stores if they would donate stuff.”
“He would just come out and and tell you what you needed to do and how to do it,” Dorothy said, “and he would help you do it. He was there to help them get through it all.”
The March of Dimes held a special place in Don’s heart. In 1997, the Lichlyters lost their daughter, 28-year-old Michelle Kern, in an automobile accident. Michelle was active in helping local charities and at that time was heading Kimball's March of Dimes efforts.
Don was known for going around and collecting donations for the organization.
“He went door to door,” Pete said of her husband. “He didn’t call or anything like that. After so many years, people just knew him. So when he came to the door, they already knew what he wanted.”
He helped a lot at the Jasper Moose, especially with its bingo events. He was also a member of the Jasper K of C, American Legion Post #147 and Indiana Sheriff's Association.
But Don’s service was always behind the scenes. He was never one for the spotlight. He did the organizing, but made sure the focus stayed on the family needing the help.
“As far as talking, he wouldn’t do that part because he had a speech defect and people couldn’t understand him,” Pete said. “But he’d do everything else. He would do anything for anybody.”
Don worked for Kimball for 47 years, and was completely dedicated to his job. But when he retired, he made it a point to be with his family, especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“I tried to do everything to the best of my ability,” he told The Herald in 2014. See that story here.
It was in that year that Don started his own medical battle, against leukemia. And for these last seven years, people rallied around him.
“The whole county came together and helped, especially when he first got sick,” Dorothy said. “You wouldn’t believe the outpour that came in.”
Don is survived by his wife, daughter Kathy Kern, six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and two sisters.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jasper; visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the time of the service. Masks and social distancing are recommended.
Memorial contributions may be made to the March of Dimes and condolences may be made at www.becherkluesner.com.
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