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Donald James Eslinger, 83

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Donald James Eslinger, age 83, passed away peacefully on Wedneday, May 31, 2023, at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines.

An 11:30 a.m. memorial service will be held at the New Hampton Cemetery on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. A luncheon will follow at the Hugeback-Johnson Funeral Home, 101 W Main Street, New Hampton, IA 50659.

Online condolences may be left for the Eslinger family at

Born on the family farm near Reinbeck, on Jan. 16, 1940, to Hattie (Glasner) and Vincel Barfels Eslinger, Don spent much of his youth on the family farm in Chickasaw County, north of New Hampton, where his love of nature and the outdoors began.

Following his graduation from New Hampton High School (1958), Don attended and graduated from Iowa State University (1962) with a bachelor of science degree in farm operations.

On March 10, 1963, Don married Carole Ketelsen at the Little Cedar Methodist Church. The couple moved frequently during the early years of their marriage due to Don’s career in farm management. His career moved the young family to five states and included positions at Green Giant in Dover, Delaware, and a vegetable farm in Wautoma, Wisconsin.

Don and Carole were blessed with two daughters, Laura and Beth. In 1976, the family moved back to the Eslinger family farm, which Don farmed until his retirement. When Carole passed away in 2002, he purchased The Landmark, a historical home built in 1851. The property, located near Waukon in Allamakee County, included more than 10 acres of lawn, prairie, woods, in addition to fruit, flower, and vegetable gardens with a scenic view of the rolling hills of Iowa and Wisconsin.

A true outdoorsman, Don will be remembered for his love of nature and the ability to grow anything! He had a collection of more than 40 orchids, and in recent years, he shared his growing tips with others.

He enjoyed fishing on the Mississippi, hunting, woodworking, and Don’s hobbies also included hunting for morel mushrooms, picking rocks with his girls, making wine and furniture, and taking care of The Landmark – it took five hours to cut the lawn! He enjoyed sharing The Landmark with others and gave daughter Laura and friends a memorable tour during RAGBRAI 2017. Don also enjoyed traveling to places such as Sanibel Island, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Don is survived by his brother, Larry Eslinger, of Brownsville, Texas; daughter, Laura Kangrga (Ivan), of St. Louis; and grandchildren, Eva and Ethan Button, of Des Moines.

He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Carole Ketelsen Eslinger; and daughter, Beth Eslinger.

Thank you to the Memory Care staff and friends at Edencrest at Beaverdale in Des Moines for their excellent care and friendship.

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