Donald Mach was born on a farm in Narka, Kansas, to Bohman and Dorothy Paulicheck Mach on May 13, 1936, during the height of the Dust Bowl period in Kansas. As a small child, Don suffered a series of illnesses and his mother and he made multiple trips via train to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to obtain treatment. Despite this difficult start, Don lived a full and active life and passed away on November 17, 2014 at Iowa Methodist Medical Center at the age of 78, after bravely battling gallbladder cancer.
Don grew up on a farm, loved the farm life, and attended schools in Narka, Kansas, graduating from Narka High School. As a young man he was very involved with 4-H and showmanship of his livestock. He won Grand Champion Showman Little American Royal. He also developed a life-long interest in photography as a young boy. And finally, he loved sports, particularly basketball. He was a star point guard on his high school basketball team, even though he stood only 5’3”. Despite being recruited to play basketball at Kansas University, alongside Wilt Chamberlain, Don opted to attend Kansas State University. While at Kansas State he played on the university basketball team and was a member of the Delta Chi fraternity. Don graduated in 1960 with degrees in animal husbandry and radio broadcasting.
Don moved to Corning, Iowa in 1966 when he accepted employment with the National Farmers Organization. For 25 years Don worked for NFO in their radio production unit, producing syndicated radio shows that were broadcast across the country such as “Heres Info with Phil Allen”. His job allowed him to combine his two professional loves; radio broadcasting and agriculture.
While working at NFO he also met his future wife, Nancy Septer. They were united in marriage on April 26, 1969 and enjoyed 45 wonderful years together. Their union produced two daughters, Lori and Katina. Despite a busy work schedule, Don always put his daughters first, and never missed a basketball, volleyball, softball game or track meet. He was in the stands or in the auditorium for every vocal concert or marching band performance. He loved cheering on and supporting the Corning Junior High and High School in sports and the arts. He served on the Corning School Board for 9 years and was president of the band parents association for several years as well.
Don was also involved in the community in many other ways. His love of 4-H, agriculture and photography continued throughout his entire life. Since 1983, Don served as the Adams County 4-H photography project leader. He conducted numerous 4-H photography workshops to help young people throughout Adams County improve their photography skills. Additionally, for over two decades Don served as a photography judge at county 4-H fairs throughout Southwest Iowa. Although he “judged” the photographs at each of these fairs, Don obtained the most enjoyment from meeting the children and discussing their photographs, always encouraging the young people to continue taking pictures of things they enjoyed. Don helped start the Adams County 4-H Endowment Fund in 2001 and served on the Board for many years. In 2009, Don was honored to be inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame.
He was also the “voice of Corning and Adams County” in a literal sense. Since 1992, Don was the Adams County correspondent for KCSI radio in Red Oak. As with his career with NFO, Don was able to combine two of his great loves; his community and radio broadcasting. Since 1992, Don produced radio broadcasts focusing on the happenings in Corning and Adams County. If there was something interesting happening in the community, Don would report on it. He loved producing his Coach’s Corner shows, focusing on the sports teams in Corning and enjoyed producing his yearly reports from the Adams County Fair. Don was an extrovert who loved leaving the house with his tape recorder to meet someone in town for “an interview”.
In his later years, Don enjoyed spending time with his two granddaughters, Isabella and Sophia. He had many wonderful trips to Philadelphia to visit them and the entire family took a lovely trip to Mexico for Katina’s wedding in 2012. However, Don loved Corning, Iowa most of all and thoroughly enjoyed playing with his granddaughters in the backyard, taking them to the Corning Aquatic Center and showing them the wonders of small-town Iowa.
Don was a wonderful and compassionate husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend to many. He will be greatly missed. Preceding Don in death were his parents, Bohman and Dorothy Mach, his mother and father-in-law, Glen and Lois Septer, and his brothers-in-law, Dave Harvey and Dick George. Those left to cherish his beloved memory are his wife, Nancy of Corning, Iowa; daughter Lori and son-in law Luis Ortiz of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and their daughters Isabella and Sophia; daughter Katina and son-in-law Joseph Weissenburger of West Des Moines, Iowa, and many other family, loved ones and friends.