John Joseph Kiefer

John Joseph Kiefer passed away Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at his home. John was born February 27, 1932 in Independence, Missouri, the son of Robert Joseph and Catherine (Smith) Kiefer. After graduating from De La Salle Military Academy in 1949, John entered the military and served in both the Missouri National Guard and the United States Army. Following his military service, he attended the University of Kansas. In 1957, he married Doris Jean Pratt and made Lawrence his permanent home.

John opened Kief’s Record and Stereo Supply in 1959 and spent the next 54 years “bringing music to the people.” He always attributed his many successful years in retail to the expertise and commitment of Kief’s employees. He truly valued the store’s many loyal patrons.

On April 14, 1978 John married Helen Brown. John is survived by Helen, his son, Michael, and daughter, Alison. Other survivors include daughter-in-law, Gail Kiefer and step daughters Heather Wingate (Steve) and Hilary Brown. John’s grandchildren are Baylie Kiefer, John Robert Kiefer, Laughton Wingate, Addy Wingate and Nello Allegrucci. He was proceeded in death by his parents and brother, Robert, and by his much-missed son, Rob.

No services are planned. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in John’s honor to LMH Health Foundation in support of Oncology Services or Douglas County Visiting Nurses Hospice in care of Warren McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

39 Condolences

  1. Mike Wagner on January 27, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    I had the privilege of working for John for 19 years. He was much more than employer he was a mentor and friend, one that I will never forget.
    Rest easy Chief.

  2. scott swedlund on January 28, 2021 at 7:07 am

    He was a huge impacton my life, More than a mentor, more than a friend. The world lost a gem. His spirit and essence lives on in my children as his influence impacted the world they know. I will forever be grateful. I would never have the life my family has if John had and shared his time and knowledge One of the smartest men i everr knew. I will forever be in his debt.

  3. Janet Pennybaker on January 28, 2021 at 8:36 am

    Helen and family, my deepest sympathy in this sad time. I remember John as Baylie’s wonderful “Dance Grandpa” – always at the recitals and competitions, always smiling, always kind. The photo above captures him perfectly. I know you all will miss him terribly. May you find peace and healing in time.

  4. Lanell Finneran on January 28, 2021 at 8:38 am

    Helen: Lawrence lost an awesome icon! John and Kiefs were such a great part of Lawrence history. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. ????????❤️

  5. Dan Simons on January 28, 2021 at 8:53 am

    RIP John, he was a great listener and a great guy to listen to

  6. Tony A. Gallardo on January 28, 2021 at 9:46 am

    As I write this note I am looking at my stereo unit and vinyl records, all purchased at Kief’s almost 40 years ago! Mr. Kiefer, along with his staff, took the time to demo each and every piece of my unit to make sure each fit into my needs and budget. I remember him always making sure the customer was satisfied. It was a privilege to do business at Kief’s. RIP Mr. Kiefer.

  7. Don Hatton on January 28, 2021 at 10:57 am

    Carol and I send our condolences. Are prayers are with the family. It was a privilege to know and be with John. A very strong person -warm and kind. He will be missed.

  8. Dareld and Martha Albright on January 28, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Our Sincere Sympathy to the Family of John Kiefer for the loss of their Loved One
    our Love and Prayers are with You.

  9. Pat Slabaugh on January 28, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    Helen and family
    John and I had a great relationship, both in business and as a personal friend.
    Our community will miss a wonderful individual, who always had interesting thoughts. John and I shared many lengthy conversations. Nancy and I are sending our condolences. Your family will be in our thoughts and prayers.

    Pat and Nancy Slabaugh

  10. Bill and Linda Gerdes on January 28, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    Helen and family:
    Our deepest sympathy in the lose of John. I thoroughly enjoyed John during our “coffee with the guys” many years and came to know John and what an interesting, kind person he was. I enjoyed so much his friendship and the fun we had as group. Our condolences are with you, and you are in our hearts and prayers.

  11. Honor and Jimmy Jones on January 28, 2021 at 4:15 pm

    Jimmy Jones:

    John was my brother-in-law…married to our youngest sister, Helen. One of my 5 siblings. I have always been overjoyed that they found each other. John was one of the most interesting and kind men I have ever met. I never got to spend enough time with him. Wish they had been in Chapel Hill instead of Lawrence! Not sure John would appreciate that comment. RIP dear John! Our condolences to my sister and her family. You are in our thoughts and prayers!

  12. Tracy Dethloff on January 28, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    Kief’s what a great record store! My collection filled with obscure records you couldn’t find else where. Loved going there and pouring over albums. Bought my 1975 Rolling Stones at Arrowhead tickets at the Malls location. Thanks John for the sweet music.

  13. William Siebenaler on January 28, 2021 at 6:58 pm

    As a Lawrence native-born friend told me when I came to town in the late 70’s to attend KU from Illinois, “To be considered a ‘real’ Lawrence townie, you have to experience three things: I can’t remember what the first one was [KU basketball game at Allen?] but the second two were, you have to open Johnnys at 6am and get the bumper sticker and you have to experience and listen to the John Kieffer ‘A stock’ speech. There will never be another stereo component/audiophile store like Kiefs ever again on this planet. Sure glad I had the opportunity and privilege of not only buying audio equipment from Kiefs but also having them as a sponsor for the KJHk Sunday Night Blues Review. Thanx & a big top hat tip, Kiefs!

  14. Brad Mullenix on January 28, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    my condolences to the Kiefer family. I used to golf with Terry Kiefer his nephew I believe. I still have an accutrac 4000 I bought from Kiefs around1980. It was the first turn table with a remote control and can play the songs on an album in any order. Thanks for the memories. -Brad Mullenix

  15. Ed Hawkins on January 28, 2021 at 7:53 pm

    John Kiefer was one of those people that made Lawrence, KS special. He put together an outstanding audio/video store that carried the latest in technology. He also represented Kief’s on a world wide level when he was invited to factories in Japan and England. John was also a fine family man and very good to his employees. Chief, RIP.

  16. Reece E. Wiley on January 28, 2021 at 8:26 pm

    Tucked into the South corner of the Malls Shopping Center was a store that took Lawrence music to a new level, countering Bell’s Music with a wider variety of music. The town owes John Kiefer an appreciation it can’t repay.

  17. Greg DiVilbiss on January 28, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    He seemed to have an amazing memory. I moved to Lawrence in 2001, went to Kiefs and had the pleasure of meeting him. He told me the story of how Kiefs got started and of all of the systems that had been installed. One 20 minute stop, and he remembered who I was from that point. Prayers for the family and friends.

  18. Pat & Jack Nott on January 29, 2021 at 4:19 am

    Helen, have truly enjoyed our morning walks together. Have loved hearing your
    stories about you and John. You both had a beautiful relationship and marriage.
    My husband, Jack, always enjoyed seeing John at Morning Coffee at McDonald’s.
    Our heart goes out to you. May the wonderful memories that you and John shared
    sustain you during this difficult time. Know that we are both here for you.

  19. J. D. Waldrop on January 29, 2021 at 7:06 am

    What a wonderful man! John is one of my favorite people and has been for 45 years. Rest In Peace brother in law. You deserve it.

  20. John Charlton on January 29, 2021 at 7:59 am

    Keifs always with the Miles sihadow on the signage. He was one cool Kat back when that had meaning. Never be another stereophile shop like it again. And all that vinyl.

  21. Deb Werts on January 29, 2021 at 8:42 am

    I lucked into a job at Kief’s in 1975…and stayed nearly 40 years. I often joked with Ed Hawkins upon arrival…”well it’s time to play store”…because it never felt like work to us. I’m so proud to have been part of the Kief’s legacy. John was my kind boss, Helen my patient mentor but more important, dear friends. I loved and will miss you John.

  22. Steve Wilson on January 29, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    Hard to process your feelings about the death of a man who was your boss, mentor, and friend for forty years. I joined Team Kief’s at Christmas time in 1973. When John’s interests shifted to audio and real estate, I kept my hand on the wheel for the music side of the business. With John’s support we (an unbelievably great crew of oddballs we hired) made sure that a great record store kept and grew its reputation. I look back on all those years with tremendous affection. I’m grateful to John for bringing me onboard. It was a wild ride. There will be no B-stock in heaven, Chief. I know you won’t give a deal to every swinging angel who comes through the door. Love you, John. My sympathies to Helen, Mike, Allison, and the whole family.

  23. Mark Roseberry on January 29, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    John was my boss for thirty years. Lots of good times, some bumpy times. He was extremely generous and had great stories to tell. My first day in the record store was December 12, 1982. I was told I would not be left alone at the counter during the busiest time of the year. Of course I was! I remember John walking down the aisle with a funny look on his face. He reached out, shook my hand, and said, “Hi, I’m John Kiefer, are you supposed to be up here?”
    Yes, John I am.
    Thank you John and all love to your family and friends.

  24. Maelyne Rider Schultz on January 29, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    When I was a sophomore at LHS in ’63/’64 we lived across 23rd Street from The Malls. I loved going to Kief’s to browse through all the albums & music.
    John was one of a kind & I say this in a nice way.
    Sorry for your loss.

  25. Maelyne Rider Schultz on January 29, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    When I was a sophomore at LHS in ’61/’62, we lived across 23rd Street from The Malls. I loved going to Kief’s to browse through all the albums & music.
    John was one of a kind & I say this in a nice way.
    Sorry for your loss.

  26. Deb Whitehair Hardman on January 29, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    John and Helen were so good to me. I worked for them two different times at the Malls and 23rd St. and like Deb Werts said it was a fun job. I don’t think anyone minded coming to work. It was a great group of people. This is a show of how kind they were, they hosted my wedding reception in their lovely home. I loved seeing the great picture of John. My sympathy to Helen and family.

  27. Marsha Henry Goff on January 29, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    I was just telling my husband that when I interviewed John for the Douglas County Bank history, he was so interesting I lost track of time. Usually, I get bored or the interviewee does. If I see them glance at their watch, I know it’s time to leave. That interview lasted SIX hours (10 am to 4 pm) without a single lunch or restroom break. I was stunned when I realized how long that interview had been. The only other time that happened was with the late sculptor Jim Brothers. My deepest sympathy to the family for the loss of John.

  28. Celeste Trepinski on January 30, 2021 at 2:39 am

    I first met John at the Aztec Inn where I went for coffee in the mornings. He was such a nice man and remember running into him several places,around Lawrence. He had the greatest stories and made everyone he met feel so comfortable. He will be missed. Celeste Trepinski

  29. Marty Olson on January 30, 2021 at 8:12 am

    John Kiefer was a presence. A Lawrence icon, small business mentor, a visionary all wrapped up in an unequalled personality. One could never predict what “nugget” would be offered during an encounter with John, but he always had something to offer.
    Peace. My sincerest condolences to the family.

  30. Susie Madsen Lounsbury on January 30, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    Helen, Hilary and Heather, Our family send our deepest condolences. We have lovely special memories of our times when we were neighbors on Tomahawk.
    You were all truly blessed to have this special man in your lives.

  31. Roger/ sue sallee on January 31, 2021 at 3:42 pm

    I got to know John 7 years ago at waukarusa McDonald’s he.became my best friend ever sue and I wound up being friends with John and Helen it was and is still a very lasting friendship he is missed

  32. Charley Kincaid on January 31, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    What a super guy. His stores were always the most fun to go to. I liked the big rock he built into the front window.
    Saturday mornings Kief’s was the place to be there was all the latest music and for me just to thumb thru all the “Far out” album covers helped me forget my hangover. He was funny,nice to everybody,a friend to Tina Turner and a mentor whether consciously or not to every young person that ever came in the door.

  33. Michael Kiefer on January 31, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    Mr Kief. “Darrnell Valentine” Bringing knowledge, “music to the people” a place for the Kiefers & Kiefs family to grow and prosper. It was who and what he is about. to the people that worked for my father, the Lawrence folks that shopped at his store. My deepest regrets.. I will never forget your humor vision and passion for what you loved.. I love you Papa

  34. Tim Goulding on February 1, 2021 at 9:57 am

    I remember watching John run up the stairs to his famed “eagles nest”, taking the steps three at a time. He had just turned 65. Amazing. He was a tireless, astute and driven businessman, but he could also be a generous and sincere friend. He and Helen helped me out countless times. John’s ability to inspire loyalty and the family atmosphere he created at Kief’s were truly remarkable. I still miss my Kief’s family to this day, even after leaving for a new job 21 years ago. My condolences to Helen and the Kiefer family. Goodbye, John. Hail to the Chief!

  35. Jackie Hadl-Fromm on February 2, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    Dear Alison and Family:

    I was so sorry to hear about the loss of your dad and also for the loss of Rob in 2019. I have so many happy memories of spending time at Kiefs Records! We were always able to stay ahead of the trends and new music because of your dad. That was a lot harder back then! I think we were the very few who knew about T Bone Burnett in 1988! Kiefs records and the Kiefer family, made us all a lot cooler back in the day. My brother John, sends his best to you too Aly Cat. Love you.

  36. Ron Sutherland on February 4, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    John was so passionate in his study of human behavior. And even more passionate about lecturing on those insights. What a unique character!!! It has been many decades since I was hanging out at the store. But many, many of his observations and lectures were deeply implanted ———- because they tilted me towards making better choices. I am forever thankful for the support he gave me as I learned how to make a living pursuing my engineering passion for audio.

  37. Matthew Klopp on February 4, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    To John’s family, including the wonderful staff at Kief’s… my sincere condolences. I moved to Lawrence in 1977 and spent way too much time (and money) at Kief’s and Sounds Great Car Stereo! I heard John’s B stock explanation many times and loved to hear his stories! He hired quality people that cared about their customers. I occasionally see several of them around town and they remain on a first name basis with me.
    The business changed and Keif’s finally closed. A number of years went by without seeing John. Then one day, I encountered John at the walking track at Rock Chalk Park… and he remembered me, and my name! We walked together and when we stopped, we sat and talked with each other for more than an hour! I saw him several more times at RC Park, and he always greeted me cheerfully.
    I cherish the memories from those meetings with John, and I still love my music! Lawrence lost an icon and a quality perso.

  38. Joe Flannery on February 7, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    John gave me my first job while I was at LHS in the mid 60’s, selling 45s, LPs and the new rage FM radios! He was an Amazing entrepreneur and teacher, always looking for and providing the next trends. What a gift to have known him.
    Godspeed to John, Helen and their family.

  39. Tammy Wilkins on March 18, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    Condolences to Michael and Alison. I know your dad was very loved and will surely be missed.

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