Don Stewart Kellner, 85, of Drums, passed away of cancer on Thursday, July 22, 2021 at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville.
Born in Conyngham, June 27, 1936, he was the son of the late Joseph and Ella (Berger) Kellner and spent the past 13 years in Drums, after 23 years in Sugarloaf.
Don was a US Air Force Veteran of the Korean War and also protected our country during the Cold War as part of the Airborne Radar, monitoring our Air Defense Identification Zone from attack of the Soviet Union. After his time in the military, he returned to the area and became a Union Carpenter, part of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. He worked his way up to construction superintendent and built things like the Mahoney City High School, the Frackville Prison, and the Berwick Nuclear Power Plant. Don was an avid gardener, but was probably best known for being the person verified by Guinness as having the most sport parachute jumps in the World - his final record being 46,355 jumps. Most of his jumps were done in the Hazleton Area where he ran N.E. Pennsylvania Ripcords, Inc. doing business as the Above the Poconos Skydivers. He even got married to his wife, Darlene, in freefall over Hazleton!
He was a pioneer within the sport of parachuting and helped test and develop better and safer ways of teaching the sport. Many people traveled to the Hazleton area from all over the World, patronizing local hotels, bars, and restaurants, specifically to experience and learn skydiving with him. He had a passion for the sport and a passion for sharing the passion for living life to the fullest with those who would dare to try.
Don helped create the harness to get the men out of the Sheppton Mine Disaster. He rescued a girl from the icy Lake Irene by jumping in for her on a line attached to a helicopter. He rescued many a stray parachutist from trees over the years. He was known as a hero, not just for his military service, but also the many occasions in which he was instrumental in helping save people's lives.
He was preceded in death, in addition to his parents, by brothers Russell and Richard Kellner; and sisters Helen Eckrote and Hattie O'Connor.
Surviving are his wife of the past 31 years Darlene (DiLibero) Kellner; two daughters Barbara Kellner and her companion Vincent Ferraro; and Tammy D'Andrea, both of Drums; two sisters Gloria Weaver, and Martha Jane Shaeffer, both of Brooksville, FL; three grandchildren Taylor, Dakota, and Jesse; and several nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of his Life will be run on August 7th, 2021 starting at 6 pm at the annual Skydiver's Corn Roast at the Double D Skyranch Airport in Drums. All who knew and loved Don are welcome to bring a camping chair, a koozie, and a tent if you want to stay overnight.
Please come with any personal Don Kellner story that you would be willing to share for a book that we are hoping to create.
If you can't make it to the celebration of life and have a story you want to share, either for the book or for the loved ones, share it here: https://forms.gle/bJky4DMzADmHYNpP9
Memorial donations may be made to the Double D Skyranch Runway Improvement Fund.
Harman Funeral Homes & Crematory Inc. (East) 669 W. Butler Drive, Drums is assiting the family with the arrangements. Online condolences can be entered and more information is available at www.harmanfuneral.com.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Donald "Don" Stewart Kellner, please visit our floral store.