Eldon Eugene Kordes 1925 – 2023
Celebration of Life
October 14, 2023
On October 3, Eldon (Don) Kordes peacefully passed at his home in Bear Valley Springs at the age of 98. Don was born in Parkville, Missouri growing up on a farm and working in his dad's mechanic garage. As a senior in high school, he was drafted to serve in WWII. He entered the Navy's V-12 program at Notre Dame University to become an engineer for a battle ship. After graduation from Notre Dame, the war ended and he went on to Purdue University for his Master's Degree where he was noticed by NASA (then called NACA), hired and started his journey as an aeronautical engineer. NASA sent him to Virginia Tech for his PhD in Engineering. Don spent his 32 years with NASA, starting at Langly in Virginia and in 1960 transferred to NASA at Edwards Air Force Base, where he worked with the X-15 program. In the mean time he met Phyllis on a blind date while a student at Notre Dame. They married in 1947 and had their first child (Kenneth) in 1949 while at Purdue. After moving to New Port news Virgina, the twins arrived - Richard and Janice - making it a family of five. The family moved to Lancaster, California in 1960 starting a new life and adventure.
Don was always interested in many activities through out his life, which he shared with the whole family. He was an avid and accomplished horseman. The family participated in horse shows, trail riding, 4H, ETI, cow pestering and helping friends on ranches with herding and caring for cattle. He was a member of Rancheros Vistadores and Los Flojos. Upon Retirement Phyllis and Don moved to BVS in 1990. Joining many of the clubs in BVS - one being the Horseman's Association where they participated in playdays and horse events for many years. Phyllis and Don started the BVS Dressage Club and Tehachapi MT Dressage Chapter. Don stopped riding at the age of 94 when his sweet horse Ben passed away. He loved trap shooting and hunting for many years. He was also a Sergent in the LA Sheriff Posey and flew for Civil Air Patrol.
As an accomplished wildlife wood carver, he donated many carvings to the Tehachapi Heritage Society. Each Christmas he carved a sled filled with Christmas gifts and toys pulled by different animals. Each of these sleds was auctioned off for fund raising. He was always generous with his carving, which he gave as gifts to his many friends. As a member of the Tehachapi Mountain Carvers, he helped the group engineer the group projects of wooden quilts, Carousels, Christmas Pyramid, and one large Noah's ark with all the animals. In April he carved his last wildlife carving of a polar bear on an ice flow. At present, his carving of a replica of the Errea House is in their garden, which this year housed a family of finches.
Don loved the community of BVS and donated/volunteered to help with many equestrian projects as well as starting a disaster preparedness committee. He helped start CERT. He was on the board of directors for CDS from 2001-2010. When he stopped to care for his wife Phyllis with health problems, though they both continued to ride through it all. Don and Phyllis were married for 65 years. They traveled the world together, taking up skiing in their 50s, returning to Tahoe yearly with loved friends and family for a week of skiing and laughter. Unfortunately, Phyllis died suddenly in 2012.
Don was always happy to see and share with family and friends. Quick with a little joke or tease to bring forth laughter. He was very intelligent, inquisitive, and enjoyed life. He was always exploring new things and places. Forever seeing what needed to be done and lending a hand.
Don is survived by two of his children, son Kenneth Kordes (Tricia) and his daughter Janice Polletta and Keith Kordes (Cindy) his nephew. His son Richard died in 1987. He has 2 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren and 6 great great grandchildren.
A full Military Service will be held on what would have been his 99th birthday April 3, 2024 at the Bakersfield National Cemetery at White Wolf. A reception will follow here in Tehachapi. Details to be announced.
Wood Family Funeral Service has been entrusted with his care. For condolences, please visit http://www.woodmortuary.net.