Col. Donald Charles Kipfer, 89, of Punta Gorda, Fla., passed away Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.
He was born in Massillon, Ohio, Nov. 1, 1923, and retired from the USAF to Punta Gorda in 1978.
At Massillon’s Washington High School, he was lead clarinetist in its nationally famous marching/swing band, and received many awards for excellence in science and math studies. He entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943, graduated from West Point in 1948, and served as a pilot, command pilot, instructor pilot, and missileer during three major wars. After earning his advanced degree at the Institute of Technology, he was appointed project officer at NDHQ in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, for the development of the CF-105 interceptor aircraft. He served as a combat pilot in Vietnam and as Base Commander at Nakhon Phanom in Thailand. He served as Director of Operations in Brussels, Belgium, for all USAF research in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Col. Kipfer began as an engineer on the bench at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, and rose to Director of Research and Development at Andrews AFB for all Air Force electronics, avionics and weapons. During his active duty, he contributed to or supervised development on submillimeter radar, moving-target radar, infrared, high-speed analog and digital computers, laser, magnetohydrodynamics, nuclear weapon improvement and safety, and other classified developments. His last assignment in the USAF at McClellan AFB, Sacramento, Calif., was as System Manager for World Wide Airforce Electronics, the A-10 fighter, and the Space Shuttle. He was a member of many service-related organizations. After retirement from the USAF, Col. Kipfer established a small company, MaeDon, which handled his artwork. He wrote and published several novels, sold thousands of copies of his oil paintings, and won many ribbons and national recognition for his wood sculpture. In addition, he was an ardent golfer, fisherman, gardener and world traveler. He was a member of Burnt Store Presbyterian Church.
Col. Kipfer is survived by his sons, Mark Tracy (Carole) Kipfer of Atlanta, Ga., and David L. (Shawn) Kipfer of Punta Gorda; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Edna Mae Kipfer, in July 2007; and his son, Donald C. Kipfer Jr., in 2009.
The family will receive friends from 10:30 a.m. until the Funeral Service at 11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, at Kays-Ponger & Uselton Funeral Home, 635 E. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda, FL 33950. Pastor Tim Stewart will officiate. Burial with full military honors will be at Royal Palm Memorial Gardens. Memorial donations may be made to Burnt Store Presbyterian Church, 11330 Burnt Store Road, Punta Gorda, FL 33955. Please visit www.kays-ponger.com to leave the family condolences and to sign the online guestbook.
Arrangements are by Kays-Ponger & Uselton Funeral Home and Cremation Services.