Don Stickle

Don Stickle

Don Stickle

Cedar Rapids

Don Stickle, 98, passed away on Dec. 20, 2022, after a life well lived. As he recently said, he has outlived nearly all his friends.

For a little history, the Stickle Family have been landowners and merchants since the early 1500’s. The family’s beginnings are traced to the Black Forest of Germany, having emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1750. By 1866, the Stickle family had established roots in Linn County.

Don was born on a farm in Shellsburg, Iowa, and began his business career at the early age of 12 by selling fruit and vegetables door to door in Cedar Rapids out of an old Ford Model T pickup truck. Although, at the age of 12, he did not have a driver’s license, he still drove. Don served in World War II for two years. He was stationed in Italy for his full tour of duty. He first trained as a military policeman and then transitioned into a job as mess sergeant. After his honorable discharge in 1946, he began his long productive business career. He became known as the “Bull man” due to his unique idea to rent out bulls for breeding purposes throughout Eastern Iowa. He eventually grew his bull herd to as many as 700 head. From there, Don expanded into recycling various food items to be used for animal feed. To keep up with the increased availability, he began increasing his herd numbers by adding feeder steers and hogs. By the ’80s, he transitioned out of hogs and specialized in feeding cattle along with the bull business. Don became known as one of the largest cattle feeders in Eastern Iowa with more than 7,000 head on feed. He was often mentioned as the guy that fed candy bars, bread products and Captain Crunch. Later, Don decided that using used highway guard rail would be a good way to build permanent and strong fences to contain these large numbers of cattle. Soon his neighbors and friends were wanting guard rail as well, so another business was born! The need for space and roughage for the ever-increasing cattle herds necessitated adding more farmland, which eventually grew to nearly 4,000 acres.

Don was a recycler before people even understood what recycling meant. He was able to keep hundreds of thousands of tons of food materials from landfills. Don suffered from back ailments for his entire life. His back pain was often soothed by his good friend Clarence Gonstead of the Gonstead Chiropractic Clinic in Mt. Horeb, Wis. Don would even stay at Doc’s house during his treatments at Mt. Horeb. Don has donated his body to the Palmer College of Chiropractic as a final token of appreciation for all that Dr. Gonstead and Chiropractic had helped with through the years.

Don leaves behind his son, Rick (Marsha) Stickle, their four children and three great-grandchildren. He also leaves behind sons David Stickle and his daughter and Donald Jr. (Linda) Stickle and his daughter, both from Anamosa. He also leaves behind two of his remaining good friends, Don Wendell of Chicago and Merl Gerdes of Monticello.

The family would like to thank all of the wonderful staff at St. Lukes as well as the Doctors that have cared for him, including Drs. Jain, Payvandi, Gogineni, Ramadugu, Hemmes, Bader, Carter, and Crow. We also wish to offer thank-you to the wonderful staff at Cottage Grove. And lastly, and most importantly, thank you for the tireless efforts of John and Mother Gongloe for their detailed caregiving. As per Don’s wishes, there will be no funeral services.

Online condolences may be left at under obituaries.

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