Donald (Don) Gene Kyzer

June 26, 1945November 30, 2018

Donald “Don” Gene Kyzer, age 73, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., passed away November 30, 2018 at DCH Regional Medical Center. Celebration of Life service will be 11 a.m. Saturday, December 8, 2018, at Valley View Baptist Church. Heritage Chapel Funeral Home & Cremations, a Dignity Memorial Provider, is directing. Visitation will be 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. Saturday at the church.

He was the son of John Allen Kyzer, Jr. and Marie Christenberry Kyzer.

Survivors include his sisters, Ethelyn K. Stuhr of Tuscaloosa and Susan K. White (Joe) of Ball Ground, Ga.; twin brother, Ronald Dene Kyzer (Nancy) of Tellico Plains, Tenn.; four nieces, three nephews, and a large extended family.

Don was born June 26, 1945 in Tuscaloosa, attended Tuscaloosa City public schools, graduated from Tuscaloosa High School in 1963 and received a BA in Political Science from the University of Alabama in 1967.

He left this world leaving a tremendous earthly legacy. For 35 years he served in positions which allowed him to help high school students develop their leadership potential. He impacted many lives as a teacher, both at Tuscaloosa High School and at Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where he also served as a leadership administrator. While teaching, he was involved with the high school's "Hi-Y' program which led to his career with the YMCA. He served the YMCAs of Florida by providing local and state high school leadership development programs. He moved to Chicago in 1991 to join the staff of the national YMCA as the National Teen Leadership Director for all 2,400 local YMCAs in the U.S. and then as the National Director of the Y's Character Development programs. He was responsible for the rollout of the YMCA's character values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility that are now recognized and used around the world. He rubbed shoulders with Presidents, Senators, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Supreme Court Justices and introduced them to some of the most talented young people from around the country through the YMCA Youth Governors’ Conferences in Washington, D.C. He modeled those character values every day of his life.

In retirement, Don served his church as Pastor for Administration and Senior Adults. His servant leadership, humility, generosity, and true charity were apparent to everyone who knew him. He did exactly what he always encouraged others to do - he left things better than he found them. His smile, quick wit, great sense of humor and intellect will be missed.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Valley View Baptist Church, c/o Don Kyzer Memorial Fund, 8820 Hwy 69 South, Tuscaloosa, AL 35405.

Condolences may be offered at


  • Survivors include his sisters, Ethelyn K. Stuhr of Tuscaloosa and Susan K. White (Joe) of Ball Ground, Ga.; twin brother, Ronald Dene Kyzer (Nancy) of Tellico Plains, Tenn.; four nieces, three nephews, and a large extended family.


  • Visitation Saturday, December 8, 2018
  • Celebration of Life Service Saturday, December 8, 2018

Donald (Don) Gene Kyzer

have a memory or condolence to add?

Rita Lewis Holifield

December 9, 2018

So sorry to hear this. I didn’t know Don well, but would see him years ago when he and his mother would come to Moundville, to eat at Miss Melissa’s cafe. His mother had been a teacher for my parents. And they dearly loved her. Please accept my condolences for your loss.
Sincerely, Rita Lewis Holifield

Bob McGaughey

December 9, 2018

I knew Don for over 35 years and saw him at his best .. He did so much for so many by teaching, by presentation, by organizing, by writing , by training , by just being Don...servant leader extraordinary!He was the personification of “world class” . When his savior said, “ come and follow me” ,he did so, in life and death! A life well lived in service to others and his Lord!

Deirdre Christenberry

December 8, 2018

A wonderful, tall, handsome man with a gentle, intelligent soul. He spirit has lived within our family since I was a child and we shared many meaningful and gracious memories of our loved ones. He departed much too soon and I will miss him. May he rest in the loving comfort of our Father and all of our family who are, now, embracing him on the other side.

Steve Hall

December 7, 2018

I don’t know where to start...maybe a list...he was my educator, my youth minister, my leader, my co-conspirator, my inspiration, a model, a spiritual guide...although I did not fully appreciate it at the time, he was one of the best friends I’ve ever known.

He woke me up to the world of democracy and law...he planted God seeds in my spirit and tended my image of a loving, servant Christ.

I know that I was not in some exclusive, special kind of relationship with him. He simply made all of us who came into his orbit for a while feel this way.

We are teachers, leaders, lawyers, ministers, and volunteers because he led us here..pointed the way with such goofy humor and intentional powerful encouragement.

He invested his whole life, his whole self, in us. He told us of the potential he saw in us.

I thank God for Donald Gene Kyzer and I’m sorry I did not tell him that more often. I look forward to a rousing chorus of little bunny foo foo in heaven with him.

If he helped you, find someone to serve and mentor...he’d like that.

Michelle Nix Rathmann

December 7, 2018

Mr. Kyzer taught all of us to treat everyone with respect. He made all of us believe we could achieve anything . So many fond memories from my days at Choctaw are centered around him. Our times in Leadership class, fall/ spring retreats at Camp Timpoochee, Y Clubs, and Blue Ridge were times well spent. I will always carry a part of him in my heart. He helped me see what was always there. I won’t say goodbye because I know I will see you again one day.

Eric Buffkin

December 6, 2018

Don touched the lives of my sister, Cheryl, and I as high school students at Choctaw in the late 70’s and early 80’s. His infectious enthusiasm for Hi-Y/Tri Hi-Y helped convince us to join in and participate in incredible programs like Youth Legislature and Blue Ridge Assembly where we made lifelong friends. Don had an awesome and wonderful impact on thousands of young people and the world is an immeasurably better place for it. We are certainly better for having known him.

Kevin Murphy

December 6, 2018

A few people come into your life for a short time and their positive impact on you remains for the rest of your life... Don Kyzer was one such man... I know that “Mr Kyzer” will still be helping souls on his next adventure.

Kathleen Shannon

December 6, 2018

Don had a way of saying things that made me think, and he planted thought seeds all the time. It was his "leading from the back" as it was said, that developed leaders. His way of deliberately seeing the good in people, and wanting to show that good back to that person, is how he has inspired me. A couple of years ago, I wanted to send him a "thank you" note because some of the thought seeds had sprouted, and I kept meaning to do that. The message that has been sent to me is never wait to thank anyone, because you might not get to do it sooner than you think. Yet another thought seed he has planted.

Linda Evanchyk

December 6, 2018

On behalf of the members of the Choctawhatchee High School (Ft. Walton Beach, FL) Hall of Fame, of which Don was inducted in 2016, we want to thank him for always remembering his years as a member of the faculty here. We are so glad that we got to see him when he was here for his induction. He has left an indelible mark on our school and on all who were fortunate to know him.
Through the Hall of Fame he will be a part of our school forever, just like he is a part of us in our hearts and memories forever.
We are so thankful you were a Big Green Indian! We will miss you!

Randy Bugos

December 6, 2018

My friend, Big Don was larger than life. He embodied a spirit that would radiate and attract people of all ages, especially young folks on the mountain. He was a special human being who the Lord chose to represent him on Earth and to spread the words of love, forgiveness, happiness, and salvation to his flock. We on earth remember his impact, those in heaven are celebrating his arrival with some good old mountain music. RIP big brother.