Don and Kelley Fairall-Fifer
The Passion of Three…Academics. Athletics. Family.
The Iowa Hawkeyes’ commitments align with the Fifer’s passions.
Following an NCAA Regionals appearance last season, optimism is at an all-time high as head coach Rick Heller enters his third season at the helm of University of Iowa baseball. The rebirth of Hawkeye baseball has coincided with renovations to Duane Banks Field, which have been made possible by contributions from loyal and generous UI athletics donors.
Don Fifer (1986 B.B.A., 2000 M.B.A.) and Kelley Fairall-Fifer (1986 B.B.A.) have been major supporters of the restoration. Supporting the black and gold and giving back is simply a way of life for their family.
“I met Kelley when I transferred to Iowa after my sophomore year,” said Don. “Her entire family were avid Hawkeye fans and supporters. It started with Kelley’s parents, Charlie and Judy. Their family legacy of giving back has always been very special and important.”
Kelley’s ties to Iowa run deep—starting with her grandfather, Loyal (1934 B.A.), and continuing with her father, Charlie (1959 B.S.C., 1962 J.D.). Today, the family legacy spans four generations, with two of Don and Kelley’s children—Ashlee (2005 B.A., 2005 B.S.N.) and Brendon (2015 B.S., B.A.)—receiving degrees from Iowa as well. Kelley’s passion for the Hawkeyes developed as a youngster, and it continued as a student in Iowa City.
“When I went to school here, everybody went to the games,” said Kelley. “There was no question. I have kept up with that over the years. I wouldn’t miss it. I love going to home, away, and bowl games—enjoy them all.”
“It became even more special after my father passed away and I realized all the black and gold that was at his funeral. I was going through his memorabilia and remembering the first time I ever went to a game, which was probably when I was seven years old. As the oldest child, I always got to go with my father because my mother stayed home with the rest of my siblings. It is one of the key reasons I bleed black and gold,” Kelley says with a smile.
Because of this strong passion and deep connection to Iowa, Don and Kelley established an endowed athletic scholarship in honor of Kelley’s father.
“After Kelley’s father passed away, we wanted to create an opportunity to show the Hawkeye family how important UI athletics has been to our family and continue Charlie’s life through giving back,” said Don.
“Giving back has always been a family thing,” said Kelley. “I may not have realized it when I was younger, but my grandfather and then my father set examples for us as they were always helping out our own community of Marshalltown.”
UI men’s swimmer Jackson Halsmer was the 2014-15 recipient of the Charles F. Fairall Athletic Scholarship, while wrestler Aaron Meyer earned the scholarship in 2015-16.
“It was really rewarding when the Charles Fairall Athletic Scholarship was awarded for the first time,” said Kelley. “We were thrilled to meet the student-athlete. He was so grateful; it was awesome.
“The endowed scholarship is something that will last forever. I hope that our children and grandchildren will realize that is grandpa and great grandpa; perhaps leading by example, they will want to do the same thing. That would be our greatest dream is that our children and their children keep giving.”
Don and Kelley—Kinnick Society Gold I-Club donors for a number of years—have developed a deeper appreciation for UI student-athletes since giving back to the Hawkeyes.
“It has been really fun for us as a family to get to know the Hawkeye athletic department on a different level,” said Don. “Then, getting a chance to meet the student-athletes, the people who you are actually impacting; you can see they really appreciate it.
“Academics are really important to both Kelley and I and (Hawkeye) athletics is significant in our lives. When you combine athletics, academics, and family together, now those are three very important passions of ours.”
Those passions match the commitments of Iowa athletics: Win. Graduate. Do it Right.
“An education is something no one can take away from you,” said Kelley. “When you are no longer able to play, what you take away from the University of Iowa is an education, first and foremost. We support student-athletes. We strongly believe in that, and support it at every level. It’s a huge step to go from high school to college athletics. To be able to make it a little easier for student-athletes who go above and beyond, we feel privileged to help in their journey.”