John Burton "Bud" Kiefer
December 2, 1930 - February 2, 2021
John Burton “Bud” Kiefer, loving husband, father and grandfather, loyal friend to many, generous public servant, and a man of tremendous faith, went home to the Lord on February 2nd, 2021. In his final days, he told his family “there’s a lot of exciting new things happening in heaven”, and he was looking forward to meeting his maker. We know the Lord greeted him with open arms.
Born December 2nd, 1930 to Violet and Doctor John Kiefer, Seattle, WA, Bud attended Laurelhurst Elementary and Roosevelt High School and spent his summers lifeguarding at Greenlake. University of Washington followed, where he pledged Sigma Nu fraternity and joined the ROTC. He graduated the UW with a major in Business Administration, a minor in handball, and an Air Force Commission. In 1954, Bud entered flight training and became a combat ready F86D pilot in the 324th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Westover Air Force Base in Springfield, MA. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in 1956, and left active duty in 1957, but reflected fondly on his Air Force days throughout his long life.
After a brief stint selling real estate in Phoenix, AZ, Bud returned to the Northwest. He moved to Portland to work for Kaiser Gypsum, marketing building materials, and then eagerly joined the marketing department of Northwest Natural Gas Company in 1961. It was in Portland where he met and quickly married his cherished wife, Wilma Sinclair. In the two years that followed, they were blessed with three daughters; Alison, and identical twins, Christine and Suzanne.
In 1965, Bud and Wilma moved their young family to Lincoln City, OR where Bud served as the District Manager of the Northwest Natural Gas Central Coast District for the next 18 years. Building the gas company franchise with only a handful of employees, he regarded the chance to establish the district from scratch as a fine growth opportunity and one that provided great personal satisfaction. During his years on the coast, Bud was an active member of the community. He was elected twice as Mayor of Lincoln City, served on the board of North Lincoln Hospital, the Congregational Church Deaconate and Trustee boards, the US Bank owned Pacific State Bank board, and was a proud founding member and Charter President of the Lincoln City Rotary Club.
In 1983, Bud was promoted to District Manager of NW Natural Gas in Salem and over the next 11 years served in the role of District Manager, and Director of Marketing and Public Relations. He continued his civic commitment serving on the Board of Directors of Goodwill Industries, the United Way, the Salem Chamber of Commerce, Salem Home Builders Association, Oregon State Home Builders Association, Downtown Salem Rotary, Salem Hospital Foundation, and the Salem YMCA. Throughout his final years of work and into retirement he also found time to thrash a golf ball at his neighborhood Illahe Hills Country Club, use the Courthouse gym and swimming pool, read, travel, follow UW Husky football—and to never let any of it keep him from actively participating in the lives of his children and grandchildren.
In sorting through his personal file folder titled “Bud’s Demise”, a list was discovered that summarized Bud’s philosophy on life. 1) Take responsibility; 2) Work for what you want; 3) Don’t fight the unchangeable; 4) When wrong, admit it and change; 5) Forgive; 6) Be generous with others; 7) Let your mouth be kind; 8) No self-pity; 9) Listen, really listen. His family and friends can all attest he tried to uphold these principles every day.
He was a man who lived precisely the life he wanted—a full, remarkable life. A life to be admired.
Bud was preceded in death by his daughter, Alison, in 1984, and is survived by his ever-loving wife, Wilma Kiefer of Salem; daughter Christine Turner, her husband Tom and children Andy and Olivia of Seattle, and Emma of Portland; daughter Suzanne Dietrich, her husband Mike Juenke, and son Nicholas of Seattle; and brother, Douglas Kiefer and his wife Karole of Kirkland.
Due to Covid-19, no services are planned at this time, but please celebrate Bud’s long and beautiful life by playing some jazz, lifting a glass, sharing stories, singing a hymn, and remembering his numerous contributions to business, community, friends and family. In lieu of flowers, we would be honored by contributions in his memory to the Downtown Salem Rotary, or your favorite Rotary chapter.
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