Clintonville native attended first game in 1948
By Erik Buchinger
When Clintonville native Kay Kuester Doran attended her first Packer game at Green Bay East High School’s City Stadium, she was immediately hooked.
While the men in the family were out hunting around Thanksgiving time, Kuester Doran, her mother and sister attended the game against the New York Giants on Nov. 21, 1948.
“I remember it was shortly after the war,” Kuester Doran said. “Packers didn’t look too great because the war took a toll on them, and they didn’t look to be in great shape.”
Kuester Doran and her family sat in the bleachers and watched Curly Lambeau’s Packers lose 49-3.
“It was kind of funny because girls weren’t allowed to pay sports at that time and weren’t expected to be interested in the Packers,” Kuester Doran said. “The boys were surprised to see my sister, mother and I there. While the men were deer hunting, my mom got the tickets.”
Kuester Doran was a freshman in high school when she saw her first game in person. Now 81 years old, she is among 10 nominees hoping to be inducted into the Packers Fan Hall of Fame.
“As a football fan, it would be like winning an Oscar,” Kuester Doran said. “To have my name in something permanent there would be an honor. I’d like to be bringing this back to Clintonville and Antigo. That would make me feel good because everyone here is a Packer supporter. And if they aren’t, they certainly don’t talk about it.”
When Kuester Doran moved to Green Bay, she said one of the first things she did was get season tickets to Lambeau Field, which had been open for three years when she purchased the seats in 1960. She has used four tickets in the 54th row ever since.
“At that time, [Vince] Lombardi was into his prime, and the year after we purchased our tickets, the waiting list began,” Kuester Doran said.
Kuester Doran said one of her favorite things about being a Packers season-ticket holder is when she shares her experiences with others.
“When we had a seat available, we always liked to take people who may never get another chance,” Kuester Doran said. “It’s just fun to see their reaction and watch them enjoy themselves.”
Kuester Doran used to be a teacher and would bring foreign-exchange students to Lambeau Field.
“It’s a very exciting day for them because most of them haven’t ever seen American football,” Kuester Doran said. “Whenever I see a rummage sale and see a nice packer jacket, I get it because whoever we go with has to dress up in Packer clothes, and if they really like them they get to take them home if they want.”
On one occasion, Kuester Doran brought a cancer survivor and her husband to the game during a breast cancer awareness game.
“We had to wear pink, and we dressed up as flamingos and were examined at the gate for our bird hats,” Kuester Doran said. “Those are the experiences we enjoy and that people do not forget.”
Kuester Doran said the most exciting game she has been to was the Ice Bowl in 1967, and she can prove she was in attendance.
The late Vernon Biever, who was the Packers official photographer, was walking around trying to keep warm in the sub-zero temperatures, and he was in the area where Kuester Doran was sitting.
“Some years later, we were at the Packer Hall of Fame, and the picture of us was on one of the displays,” Kuester Doran said. “Later on, my husband wrote to Biever, who sent us the picture.”
The picture is on display at the house, and Kuester Doran said the photo is a first-place tie in terms of memorabilia items. Her husband met former Packers head coach Vince Lombardi at a bar and asked for an autograph for his wife’s birthday.
Kuester Doran said she has never been to any of the Packers’ four Super Bowls, and it’s not necessarily on her bucket list, but one of her favorite memories as a fan came when the Packers won the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967.
When the team was flying back to Green Bay, residents in the neighborhoods flashed the lights on their houses so the players could see their support.
“Each year there was also an airport filled with people welcoming the team home,” Kuester Doran said.
Kuester Doran said there is no experience like being at Lambeau Field for a big game.
“You can watch it on the TV, but you miss out on all the excitement,” Kuester Doran said. “It’s not the same. I think you get a better description of the game, but you don’t get the excitement of the crowd giving high-fives, and you can dance to beer barrel polka and jump around.”
Kuester Doran was interviewed for this story prior to Sunday’s Packer win over the Giants, where she was in attendance but declined to give a prediction to the game.
“I don’t make predictions,” Kuester Doran said. “My husband and I watch a lot of football, and he told me one time, ‘Any given Sunday, any other team can beat any other team. Years ago it was a little different, but they all train so well now.”
Kuester Doran said it will be interesting to see if the Packers can keep the winning streak going.
“They’re on such a role, so we’ll see,” Kuester Doran said. “But then again, I didn’t think I would get this far. Who knows? They could keep running the table.”
Kuester Doran was nominated by her sister Mary-Beth Kuester, and to be one of the finalists was certainly a surprise for her.
“I certainly have a lot of people rooting for me,” Kuester Doran said. “When it started thought I wouldn’t have a prayer.”
Fans can help vote Kuester Doran into the Packers Fan Hall of Fame by going to packers.com with one vote per day per email address through Jan. 31.
Without anymore home games for the Packers this season, Kuester Doran will have to wait for next year to see her favorite team play in Green Bay.
“I’ve always liked the spirit of the crowd, and in Green Bay, it’s like a family there,” Kuester Doran said. “The fans own the team, and win or lose, good or bad, it’s like high school. You’ve got to see your team play. Green bay is a small town, and this is what we do on Sundays. If they lose, you feel bad but you move on to the next one.”