Donald Charles Coldsmith 1926 - 2009 Emporia
Services for Donald Charles “Don” Coldsmith, 83, Emporia, were 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 30, at First United Methodist Church in Emporia.
Cremation is planned.
Mr. Coldsmith died Thursday, June 25, 2009, at Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.
He was born Feb. 28, 1926, in Iola, the son of Charles I. and Ethel Willet Coldsmith. The son of a Methodist minister, Mr. Coldsmith grew up in southeast Kansas and graduated from high school in Coffeyville. He joined the U.S. Army in 1944 and served as a combat medic.
After the war, he attended college at Baker University in Baldwin City. After graduating in 1949, Mr. Coldsmith worked as a YMCA youth director in Topeka, where he developed one of the first interracial swimming programs in the state. His interest in YMCA activities led to a lifelong involvement with YMCA Camp Wood in Elmdale, first as a camper, then counselor, board member, officer, fundraiser and all-around supporter. Other occupational interests included gunsmith, taxidermy, music and serving as a lay cleric.
Mr. Coldsmith attended Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., where he earned his doctorate in 1958. As a charter member of the American Board of Family Medicine, he delivered more than 3,000 babies in Emporia during the 30 years he spent caring for the health of local families.
He married his soul mate, Edna Coldsmith, in 1960. They have always lived in Emporia, and together raised a blended family of five daughters, cattle, Appaloosa horses, family pets and other assorted livestock, just “not necessarily in that order,” he always teased. They have been longtime members of the First United Methodist Church in Emporia, where he taught Sunday school and served in many capacities through the decades.
In his spare time, Mr. Coldsmith wrote detailed stories conceived by a colorful imagination and influenced by memories of his own Grandpa Willet’s tales. During his later career as an author, these musings resulted in the publication of more than 40 books, 150 magazine articles and 1,600 newspaper columns, including his syndicated column Horsin’ Around, which the Emporia Gazette and several other regional publications printed. The bulk of his fiction is a series of historical novels, “The Spanish Bit Saga,” which chronicles the unique moment in history when the horse was introduced to the Plains Indians by Spanish explorers.
His writing reportedly helped redefine the Western novel by adopting the point of view of the Native Americans, rather than that of the European immigrants. He was honored to have many Native American readers and friends. There are more than six million copies of Mr. Coldsmith’s novels in print worldwide, in English and in several other languages.
Mr. Coldsmith was invited to join the Western Writers of America in 1977, and attended every annual convention until the last couple years when his health prevented those trips. He served as WWA president and Don and Edna were very pleased to visit with their WWA friends at this year’s convention in Oklahoma City just days before the onset of his illness.
Mr. Coldsmith taught English/writing classes at Baker University and Emporia State University and spoke often at Kansas Humanities Council and other nationwide and regional gatherings. He founded the Tallgrass Writer’s Workshop at ESU. It continues to be a popular annual event for professional and aspiring writers.
He was preceded in death by two brothers, Gordon Coldsmith and Jim Goldsmith; and a daughter, Leslie Coldsmith.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 49 years, Edna, of the home; four daughters, Carol Smith and husband, Tenney, Tucson, Ariz., April Abril, Rye, Colo., Glenna Coldsmith, Tonganoxie, and Connie Lorenzen, Smithville; a sister, Dorothy Matsen and husband, Ralph, Monument, Colo.; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Donations may be made to Baker University, YMCA Camp Wood (Elmdale, Kan.) or the First United Methodist Church of Emporia.
Arrangements: Charter Funerals, Emporia Chapel, 501 W. Sixth Ave., Emporia 66801.
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