Cover photo for Donald Cannady's Obituary
Donald Cannady Profile Photo

Donald Cannady

August 17, 1934 — April 5, 2023

Donald Cannady

Donald D. Cannady, aged 88, of Tomahawk, passed away peacefully on April 5, 2023 under the exceptional care of the dedicated team at Compassus Hospice, his daughter Kelly and nephew Andy. Don leaves behind a legacy of love, compassion, and unwavering faith.

Don was born on August 17, 1934 in Brokaw, WI, to Erwin and Esther (Ostring) Cannady. He spent his early years in Brokaw, WI and Wausau, WI. While attending Wausau High School, he excelled as Class President and captain of the WHS Debate team, displaying his leadership and intellectual prowess. Don was a force to be reckoned with on the debate stage.

In 1955, Don married his high school sweetheart, Ramona Mae Smith. Together, they built a loving family and raised three children: Robert (Marian) Cannady of Littleton, CO, Lynnette (Michael) Farley of Brandon, MS, and Kelly Breneman of Rhinelander, WI

Continuing his pursuit of knowledge, Don attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1953 to 1955 before transferring to Macalester College in Minneapolis, MN, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History. While in Minneapolis, Don also served as the Youth Director at Vanderburgh Presbyterian Church. While in Minneapolis, Don & Mona welcomed their first child, Robert, into the family.

Don’s quest for a deeper understanding of theology led him to the Graduate School of Theology at Oberlin College in Norwalk, Ohio, from 1957 to 1961, where he obtained his Master of Divinity degree. While in Norwalk, Don was a high school history teacher from 1960-1961 and also served as Pastor of the Olena Presbyterian Church from 1958 - 1961. In 1960, Don and Mona welcomed their second child, Lynnette, into their growing family.

Following fervent prayer, Don felt led by Jesus to the small New Jersey river town of Milford, where he was ordained in 1962 at the First United Church of Christ. Alongside Mona, they built a vibrant little church which included starting a book club, where one of Don’s favorite books “The Little Prince” was studied.

While in Milford, Don diligently worked towards his Ph.D. in Psychology & Social Relations, having completed all requirements except his thesis. It was during this time that he immersed himself in the valuable work and study at the Philadelphia State Mental Hospital. It was also during this time they welcomed their third child, Kelly, into the family.

In 1965, Don moved his family to Cleveland, OH where he took on the role of Assistant Director of The Family Health Association as well as sole pastor of the St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, in Cleveland from 1968-1972. Don was also a guest lecturer at Cleveland State University, a Psychological Consultant to Oberlin College, President of the Cleveland Metropolitan Academy of Religion and Mental Health and lecturer for the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio.

In 1972, Don and Mona moved the family to Tomahawk, WI, where Don became Director of the Northwoods Guidance Center and later Executive Director of the Human Service Center of Rhinelander, WI. It was during this time that Don also joined Grace Lutheran Church as its Visitation Pastor, with Mona serving Grace as a Grief Coordinator, and Pastor Mark Ziemer as lead pastor. The people of Grace Lutheran and the community of Tomahawk, WI, always held a special place in their hearts. Mona pre-deceased Don on May 15, 2019.

Don was passionate about his leisure time as a member of the Maple Birch/Edgewater Wednesday Golf League. Don’s partner was Ed Winkler; together they were affectionately called “Winky & Dinky”. Although small in stature, Don embraced his vertically challenged place in God’s Kingdom, including the golf course.

Don was a loving father who instilled strong values of love, faith and compassion in his children. His legacy will continue through his family, including (by age) grandchildren Ross Breneman, Brandon Farley, Nathan Farley and Jesse Breneman, and his step-grandchildren Robert, Melanie and Emily Wright-Cannady, as well as his great grandchild, Norman “Storm” Breneman. His beloved brother Larry (Bev) Cannady, sister Carol Lowey, niece Connie (Sam) Cannady & children Nicholas & Elaina, nephew Randy (Julie) Cannady and Andy Lowey.

When asked how he’d like to be remembered, Don said, “That I tried to be a wordsmith who gave his word clearly and kept it truly. That I tried to follow Jesus.”

Don did his best to model the love and compassion of Jesus, and inspired all he met to do the same. His wish for all who read this is that you be authentic, true to who you are and to be more present in every moment. Most of all, love one another.

A celebration of Don’s life will be held at Grace Lutheran Church, Tomahawk, WI on Saturday July 15, 2023 at 11:00am. The family will receive friends from 9:00 a.m. until the time of services at the church Saturday morning. A luncheon will follow where Don hopes you’ll share your most treasured memories of him with each other. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Compassus Hospice 111 E. Davenport St Suite #101, Rhinelander, WI 54501.

Kruger Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services is assisting the family with arrangements. You may view the full obituary and leave online condolences at


Memorial Service for Pastor Don Cannady

Time: Jul 15, 2023 11:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

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Saturday, July 15, 2023

9:00 - 11:00 am

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Memorial Service

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am

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