St. Charles, Missouri
Don Claas came from a farming community where there were many family gatherings. Don first learned to pitch horseshoes with his Dad, Uncles and other members of the family, but he never took it seriously until much later in his life. Around 1980 there was a neighborhood block party and Donnie Ell put up some horseshoe stakes in our back yard that forever changed Don and Janettes lives. They heard of a horseshoe league beginning at the Golden Triangle Park in 1982, so along with their neighbors they joined.
Skip Penfold convinced Don and Janette they were good enough to enter the MO State Horseshoe Tournament. In 1986 they attended our first MO State Horseshoe Tournament. Don was entered into the Class L Division and was lucky and surprised to win his first place state trophy.
Vacations were spent at every World Tournament across the states and into Canada. The first world tournament he participated in was 1991 in Spearfish SD, he came home with a third place trophy and a few bucks. From 1993 to 2012 he pitched in 17 World Tournaments and from 1986-2012 he pitched in 26 MOHPA State Tournaments and in many, many local tournaments in Missouri and Illinois.
Don served as a Tournament Director for over 25 years, he also was the League Director for the Day League which he started at QR in 2010 and served as an officer for the QRHC. He served as Tournament Director for the Superbowl Tournament at Quail Ridge for 13 years, for the West East Challenge Tournament for 6 years. He pitched with the Golden Triangle Horseshoe League, the Capital City League at Blanchette, the NMHC League and the QR Horseshoe League. Don spent over 30 years pitching horseshoes; a member of the NHPA/MOHPA for 28 years joining in 1986.
Behind the competition scene, Don was always there to help in any way he could. After moving into the NHPA facility there was much more work and responsibility as for as upkeep. He was the maintenance man, seeing that new lights were installed and the cleaning equipment working properly.
He was inducted into the St. Charles County Sports Amateur Hall of Fame in 2014. During this time he turned 70 years old and time for him to become a 30 footer. It was there that he began to excel in horseshoes. Nothing thrilled him more than to pitch with A Class pitchers and there were times he would win.
Early 2013 he was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer, just when he was getting better with pitching and feeling the thrill of winning. Taking chemo treatments, he began losing his strength, but in the last game of shoes that he pitched at QR, he pitched a high game of 84% in 2013. It would be the end of his horseshoe career and soon his life.
Don left us July 21, 2014 and will forever be missed.