Donald Lavern Gaddis “Butch”, 85 of Solon, passed away Sunday October 10, 2021, at the Dennis & Donna Oldorf Hospice House of Mercy in Hiawatha surrounded by his family after a brief illness. A Celebration of Life service will be held on Thursday October 14, 2021, at 3:00 p.m. at St. John Lutheran Church in Ely, where the family will greet visitors from 1:00 p.m. until service time. Presiding will be Pastor Brian Middleswarth. Burial will follow the service at Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery, Cedar Rapids. Please wear a facemask as unvaccinated children will be present. Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Is in charge of the arrangements.
Butch was born November 17, 1935, in Homestead Amana, Iowa, to Roy and Marie (Beck) Gaddis Sr. He attended Roosevelt High School in Cedar Rapids and Tampa Tech in Florida. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Karen Ellingson Gaddis and daughters, Diane (Paul) Malatek, Laurel (Kent) Stock, Hope Morrison (Richard), Maria (Todd) Evans, grandchildren; Dana Murphy, Donald Murphy, Diana Lynn Cassady, Kendrie Stock, Kylee Stock, Jason Heeren, Shawn Morrison, Tyler Morrison, Ellie Evans, Caden Evans, ten great grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and in-laws. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Roy Jr, Bill, Bob, Tom, and sister Barbara McPherson.
He lived in rural Johnson Country near Lake McBride from 1963 to present. A man of many interests and innovation he showed horses with his family from early childhood including the Kansas Royal. He received his pilot license at age fourteen and later earned sea and roto craft ratings. He worked at the family business, Highway Equipment Co. as a floatplane pilot and Canadian fishing guide for the company lodge in Manitoba, Canada and as a sales presenter with a Husky Dog Team at trade shows until inducted into the Army where he trained as a helicopter mechanic. In 1976 he started CEI Equipment Co. in Cedar Rapids which grew to manufacture fertilizer conveying and blending equipment and later concentrated on manufacturing of self-unloading truck mounted bodies and semi-trailers which were sold worldwide. He and his wife retired from CEI in 2013.
He spent many years as Commander of the El Kahir Shrine Flying Fez Unit that flew patients and their parents to the Shrine orthopedic and burn Hospitals. He was given an award from the FAA for fifty safe flying years. Hobbies were hunting, fishing, bowling, golf, stock car racing and spending time with his family. He and his wife enjoyed world travel and flying to the Caribbean for scuba diving. He was a founding member of the Solon Optimist Club and president during the Solon Beef Day’s first year. He belonged to the Ely 55 American Legion where he founded the youth air rifle organization, was a member of St. John Lutheran Church in Ely and volunteered for Miracles in Motion a therapeutic non-profit. His family and friends, particularly the grandchildren, have many wonderful memories to share. Memorials may be made to the El Kahir Shrine Children’s Transportation Fund, Miracles in Motion or the St. John Lutheran Church Building Fund.