James Joy Kiser

AQHA Honorary Vice President James Joy Kiser passed away on July 14.

Adams Funeral Home

James Kiser served as an officer of many breed associations, including the Iowa Quarter Horse Association for more than 15 years and was on the AQHA Board of Directors 1962 to 1986.

AQHA Honorary Vice President James Joy Kiser died July 14, 2018. He was born September 8, 1918, in Paullina, Iowa, to Joy Alto Kiser and Katherine Geneva Culp Kiser. He grew up on Walnut Hill Farm and learned to ride and drive horses at an early age. James graduated from Paullina High School in 1936. 

He enrolled in Iowa State College, played freshman basketball and lettered in polo. He was a member of the livestock judging team, as well as ROTC. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1942.
James was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Army in 1942. He commanded Battery “A,” 156th Field Artillery Battalion, 44th Infantry Division in WWII. From 1944 to 1945, he saw combat in France, Germany and Austria. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. He served from 1946 through 1974 in the Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. 

In 1946, James attended South Dakota State University where he taught animal science classes, coached the livestock judging team and was in charge of the horse program. He met Elizabeth “Bettie” Dawson in 1946 in Chicago and they were married in 1947. James received a master’s degree in animal science from SDSU in 1952. 

James and Bettie moved to Ames, Iowa, in 1951, where he joined the animal science department at Iowa State College, now Iowa State University. He again was in charge of the horse program, taught classes and coached the livestock judging team. James was named faculty adviser for the Block and Bridle Club Horse Show and the ISU Rodeo Club. “Professor Kiser” taught at ISU until his retirement in 1989. 

James was also the Cooperative Extension horse specialist at ISU and conducted hundreds of clinics and meetings for 4-H clubs throughout Iowa. He was superintendent of the Iowa State Fair 4-H Horse Show for many years. 

He was accredited to judge more than 17 breeds of horses and ponies and spent many years judging shows throughout the United States and Canada. Highlights included the All American Quarter Horse Congress, AQHA world championship shows and several National Arabian Shows. He served as an officer of many breed associations, including the Iowa Quarter Horse Association for more than 15 years and was on the AQHA Board of Directors 1962 to 1986. James was inducted into the halls of fame of many horse and livestock councils and associations. 

James and Bettie were a devoted couple for 67 years. They were part of a beloved couples bridge club, Red Friars dance group, and were active in the Collegiate Methodist Church. They and their daughters, Kathy, born in 1954 and Janice, born in 1955, spent many happy times together riding horses and traveling throughout the country on James’ judging trips. 

James’ family includes daughter and son-in-law Kathy and Jay Light, daughter Jan Frank, Jay’s son Richard Light, granddaughter Abby Frank and grandson Evan Frank. James was preceded in death by Bettie, his parents and his brother Donald Jay Kiser.

Funeral arrangements were made by Adams and Soderstrum Funeral Home, Ames, Iowa. A visitation was held Thursday, July 19, at 12:30 p.m., followed by a memorial service at 2 p.m., both at Collegiate United Methodist Church, 2622 Lincoln Way, Ames, IA.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be directed to The Kiser 4-H Scholarship at the Iowa 4-H Foundation, Extension 4-H Youth Building, Iowa State University, 1259 Stange Road, Ames, IA 50011.