COLUMBIA CITY – Dr. Donald E. Gradeless, 73, of Winona Lake, died peacefully at 8:02 a.m. Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, at Peabody Retirement Community, North Manchester, where he was a resident since Friday.

Born on April 17, 1949, at Murphy Medical Center, Warsaw, he was a son of Harmon Willard Gradeless and Donna Maxine Mort Gradeless. After the family had moved to Almond, Wis., he graduated from Almond High School in 1967. He began his advanced education journey at the University of Wisconsin -where he earned a bachelor of business education with a major in accounting and a minor in economics in 1972.

Moving on to UW – Eau Claire, he earned a Master of Science in Teaching with a major in data processing in 1975. Continuing his post-graduate work, he received a Certified Data Educator (CDE) designation, studying at numerous universities throughout the country. In 1988, he was granted a Doctor of Philosophy in Education from Pacific Western University, Los Angeles, Calif. His doctoral course work took him to Nova University, Florida; University of California, Davis; and Lawrence University.

Embarking on his career-long teaching career, from 1972 to 1977, he taught for Racine Unified Schools in business and computer science. From 1978 to 2004, he taught business, economics and computer science at Elmbrook Schools in Brookfield, Wis., which included Brookfield High School. In 1987, he received an Outstanding Business Educator Award. In 1991, he received the Elmbrook Exemplary Outcomes Award; in 1993, he was listed in Who’s Who in American Education. Additionally, he taught computer science at Waukesha County Technical College.

Receiving numerous accolades for his teaching excellence, he was a proud member of the exclusive Mensa Society. He became an expert on the American Revolution and belonged to the Sons of the Revolution and other related organizations, serving as an officer through the years. He was a Master Mason, a member of the Scottish Rite and Knights Templar.

His work with American history and genealogy resulted in many publications, becoming the reference for local historians. They include prominent family histories of Kosciusko and Whitley County families, family trees and extensive computer databases.

Surviving are his mother, Donna Jackson, formerly of Larwill; siblings: Steven (Gloria) Gradeless, of Almond, Wis.; Rex (Sally) Gradeless, of Littleton, Colo.; and Sherry (Steve) Lee, of Albion; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, Harmon Gradeless; and stepfather, DeWayne Jackson.

The funeral service is 2 p.m. Friday at Smith & Sons Funeral Home, Columbia City. Burial is at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Pierceton. Visitation is from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home and one hour prior to the service on Friday.

Preferred memorials in Donald’s honor are to the Sons of the Revolution.

Condolences may be sent to