In Tribute: Contractor built homes, work ethic

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Don Killough raised his family the same way he built houses — a good foundation, some independence and strict parameters.

Killough’s children remembered the Clovis building contractor as a loving, supportive father who valued a strong work ethic and could be seen in church whenever its doors were open. He died March 21 at age 81 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

He was born May 4, 1926, in Brown County, Texas, and grew up with a large family that sharecropped during the Great Depression.

Weldon Killough, one of Don’s four sons, said they often helped him in his construction business, mostly houses he built in the 1960s in the Colonial Park area.

“As soon as we hit the seventh grade, he put us to work. During the school year, we worked on weekends and (we worked) all summer. We all did that until our early 20s.”

He built homes and a work ethic that still resonate today, said Weldon, a retired educator.

“We were expected to work and we were expected to put in nine-, 10-hour days,” Weldon said. “Therefore, we weren’t getting in trouble. We were a very basic, simple family. Work and church were the primary focus.”

His attitude was slightly different with his three daughters, said daughter Joanne Byrd of Monument. Byrd said she never worked until she left the house, and instead focused on homemaking.

She still remembered her father as the man who would take time out to support her and her brothers in choir and sports, and gave them independence.

“He let me do my own thing,” Byrd said. “He was a good influence as far as Christianity and music and family. He dearly loved his family.”

She said when she finished business school, she moved back in with her parents. She tried to sneak in late once and found a locked house, meaning she had to wake up her father to get inside and reveal she’d broken curfew.

“He had a firm hand, but he wasn’t cruel,” Byrd said. “He could look at you, and you knew you were in trouble and you’d made the wrong decision.”

Even with a stern hand, daughter Donita Harkey of Lubbock said, he taught his children about making other people’s lives better.

“He told us to greet someone (one) day as if they had the words MMFI on their chest,” Harkey said, “which meant, ‘Make Me Feel Important.’”

In Tribute is a regular feature. To suggest an honoree, contact CNJ managing editor Rick White at 763-6991 or by e-mail:
rwhite@cnjonline.com