Harold Leon “Doc” Childress passed away on his birthday, September 27, 2020 at 88 years old at St. Luke’s Hospice House in Kansas City, Missouri. Born on September 27, 1932 in Hendrickson, Missouri, he grew up in neighboring Piedmont, where he graduated from Piedmont High School and was the first baseman on the baseball team. He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in the minor leagues at age 17. He played one summer, but then went back to school, where he played both baseball and basketball. Doc attended Missouri Baptist College where he led the basketball team in scoring for two years and was elected to the All-State team. He transferred to the University of Missouri in Columbia where he majored in pre-med and then received his doctorate degree at Southern University of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. He was in the U.S. Army as a First Lieutenant in the medical vision clinic. He bought an optometry practice in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and married his first wife, Sandra Savage, in 1960. They had two daughters, Kelly and Lisa, and moved to St. Joseph, MO.
Doc practiced optometry for 53 years. He was Missouri Western University’s eye and vision consultant for the athletic department and taught athletes how to improve performance through vision and was rewarded by inducting him into the Missouri Western Hall of Fame. He got remarried on June 24, 1981 to Marge Hatten and they were married for 39 years.
Doc loved hunting and shooting sporting clays, the most difficult shooting sport in the world. He started shooting in 1989 in the veterans’ division and made Team USA 1991. In 1992, the World Championship was in Vermont, where he tied for the bronze medal and won in a shoot-off with three other shooters. He was the first American to win a medal in world competition. He won three Missouri State championships; two SGAs in the 1990s and even one when he was 70 years old. Doc was in “Outdoor Life” magazine’s All American Sporting Clays for ten straight years. He was the first shooter inducted into the Missouri Sporting Clays Association and is the only sporting clays shooter inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. He is also in the Water Fowlers Hall of Fame for his expertise in shooting ducks, geese and doves.
Doc was preceded in death by his father, Carl Patrick Childress (who played baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals) and his mother, Jewell Francis Moore. He is survived by his wife, Marge (Marge Nyren Hatten), his daughters Kelly Childress and Lisa Irons (Bill), his stepsons Rick Hatten (Dana), Greg Hatten (Janet), Ted Hatten (Lana) and his stepdaughter, Nancy Hatten Gardner, and his cousin, Ronald Henson. He has fifteen grandchildren: Stephanie Lincoln, Andrew Hatten, Emily Alford, Aaron Hatten, Mitchell Hatten, Daniel Hatten, Elizabeth Punzo, Sarah Weaver, Katie Brown, Alaynna Gardner, James Gardner, Truman Gardner, Jonah Hatten, Asa Hatten and Sam Hatten. He is also survived by 18 great-grandchildren.
A private service for the family will be livestreamed at 1:00, then friends can join a celebration of his life at Meierhoffer Funeral Home in St. Joseph, Missouri on Friday, October 2 from 2:00-3:30 p.m. The family requests that guests wear masks and practice social distancing. For livestreaming of service (available for viewing up to 30 days), online guestbook and obituary, visit www.meierhoffer.com, to view livestream, click obituary, “tribute wall” & select play.