Don Coldsmith

(Frank) And we’re back. So anyway, we’re talking about books today here on Around Kansas since we’re in December. The winter months and a time to grab a great book or several. (Deb) Or give a great book for Christmas. (Frank) Absolutely. You know if you…well actually several years ago I discovered a Kansas author Don Coldsmith. We had a cabin over at Council Grove. And so it was nice to get out under all the poplar trees and read. And I found his Spanish Bit Saga that summer. And I read what I thought was all of ’em. Found out it wasn’t cause there are like 20 or so. (Deb) He just kept writing them. (Frank) But as you’ll see in the story the Native Americans thought he was Native American because he caught their culture so profoundly in these and they are exciting, exciting stories. (Deb) He’s just an incredible writer. And of course a physician. He was a doctor and then he…waiting for babies you know, and he had just such a rich life. And I got to meet Don just on a couple of occasions at the Civil War events when he would be speaking. We’d both be speaking at conferences and stuff. And just a wonderful man too. (Frank) Yea, yea. (Deb) A lot of folks have great memories of him. And it’s so good…you know one of the things that being an author does and it’s the same with being on the radio Frank or being on TV, you know these things live after you. So, what a legacy Coldsmith lived. My gosh, he is just amazing. (Frank) So, anyway, let’s find out about Don Coldsmith. I need a little more hot chocolate. Don Coldsmith, Kansas author. (Frank) Before he began writing, Don Coldsmith had many jobs and several careers. Born in Iola, educated in Coffeyville, Don was a combat medic in World War II. He earned a degree in psychology from Baker University after the war. In his busy lifetime, he squeezed in owning a mail order gunsmith business, taxidermy, singing in a men’s quartet, selling bait, and breeding and showing Appaloosa horses. He served as a clergyman and as a youth director for the YMCA in Topeka for several years before getting his medical degree at KU. Don practiced family medicine in Emporia, Kansas for thirty years and taught at Emporia State University. In between, he and his wife Edna raised five daughters. When he was practicing medicine, he wrote books and articles, mostly in the time he was waiting for babies to be born. When he retired from medicine, he turned to writing full time and the Spanish Bit Saga was born, novels based on that pivotal moment in history when the horse was introduced to the Plains Indians. He authored 29 books in that series and at least 20 other books. Don was awarded the Western Writers of America’s Golden Spur in 1990. Other honors include 1993’s Distinguished Kansan, awarded by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas and the Edgar Wolfe Award for lifetime contributions to literature. Don was in high demand as a speaker, especially when the subject was the High Plains and the American West. Don passed away after suffering a stroke in 2009. He was 83. “The greatest honor,” he once told a reporter, “is when American Indians ask me what tribe I am from. They believe I write authentically as a Native American would. My background is German.”

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