Donald Eugene Callender II
Donald Eugene Callender II, known by his family and friends as "Gene," passed away on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, at the age of 80, at St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, surrounded by his family. Gene was born on Dec. 11, 1938, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to Robert Stevens Callender and Wynnefred "Fritz" Audrey Wadewitz.
Gene spent most of his youth in Newport Beach, Calif. Where he loved the beach, water and outdoor activities. He attended high school in Asheville, N.C., and College at Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Denver.
Gene was a "born" salesman. Starting his career with Whitman Publishing a division of Western Publishing, selling Little Golden Books and comics to retailers across the Midwest, where he was awarded salesman of the year many times during his career.
He then followed his entrepreneurial spirit to found All Sport Ltd., a retail sporting goods store in Racine, Wis. A new approach to retail sales was born. Gene loved making people happy by helping them purchase high-quality products through a highly personal touch. He sold some of the first pairs of Nike shoes in the Midwest, established some of the best athletic, hunting, fishing and outdoor equipment departments. All Sport Ltd., was way ahead of its time as its own version of a sporting goods super store.
He also established a very popular cross-country ski school and rental operation out of Johnson Park during the winter, and operated the City of Racine Municipal Boat Launch on Lake Michigan in the spring and summer. He then decided to accept a job offer as national sales manager for Universal Gym Equipment headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He sold fitness equipment to universities, high schools, health clubs and consumers for home use.
He closed out his career sharing his knowledge of life with students who attended Kirkwood Community College, where he taught horticulture equipment and construction and imparted other important life advice to his students.
He loved family visits, hunting, fishing, boating and cooking, both in the kitchen and on the grill, where he served some of the best homecooked meals enjoyed by all. He was involved and supported many wildlife organizations (the Elks Foundation, Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever, to name a few.) He also was a Polk County (Des Moines, Iowa) deputy sheriff.
He also could be found in his "shop," building everything and anything, and holding "court" with his family and friends when in ear shot.
Gene is survived by and blessed to have found, Vicki Ann Callender, and was happily married for 32 years. He also is survived by his brothers, Steve, Bill and John; and sister, Suzy; sons, Donald III (Cindy), Michael (Christina), Aaron (Janet), David (Lisa), Ryan (Brooke); and daughter, Melissa (Molly); grandchildren, Cody (Danny), DJ (IV), Kyle, Robert, Ella, Imogen, Matthew, Morgan, Cooper and Hudson; and great-grandchildren, Mason and Cameron.
Memorial donations in memory of Gene can be made to UnityPoint-St. Luke's Hospital Inpatient Hospice Unit at 1026 A Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402.
Online condolences can be left at www.teahenfuneralhome.com.