On Wednesday, June 3, Alice’s birthday, Don announced from his sick bed that he was “leaving on Saturday.” True to his word, he was called home by his Heavenly Father on Saturday, June 6, 2009. He died at age 83 at home with his loved ones after a five-year fight with multiple myeloma.
He was born on Jan. 21, 1926, in New York City, and later moved with his parents and two sisters, one older and one younger, to Astoria and then to Ridgewood, N.Y.
He quit school at 16 to help support the struggling family and started his career in communications at RCA Communications in New York City. This budding career was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army. He eventually fought in the Battle of the Bulge where he was injured and earned the Purple Heart. Subsequent injuries necessitated more than two years in Army hospitals when he was finally honorably discharged with a disability.
At this time he finished his high school education through the military and resumed his career at RCA Communications. He took some additional college courses and advanced quickly. The computer industry was just developing, and he trained in this field from the early 1950s, over time becoming involved in several computer conversions as the technology advanced. He made a career change to Western Union International and eventually was in charge of all its international communications. So Don was a “computer nerd” from the earliest inception of computer usage in major corporations and has thereafter consistently had his nose in a computer.
Alice and Don were married in 1951 and lived on Long Island for 41 years, where they raised two sons, Gary and David. Don, now a corporate executive, often spoke of a desire to “drive a school bus!?” Meanwhile his passion was fishing, though he never ate a fish, and later traded in his fishing rods for golf clubs.
Gary married Theresa Sopack and they raised two sons, Daniel and Brian, eventually moving to Granville in 1991. Alice and Don, after much visiting, followed soon thereafter, in 1997, when Gary said he would build them a house. Building the house was a wildly fascinating family experience, to say the least, but in 1998 a beautiful retirement house resulted and we fell in love with Granville.
Youngest son, David married Kathy Wascak, and they also had two sons, Devin and Brendan. They continue to live on Long Island and visit regularly.
Don also had a small plane pilot’s license, which he acquired one day while shopping for a wood stove. That store was closed but the pilot’s school was just across the street, “calling to him,” he said. After a free ride, he signed up for lessons, got his license and flew sometimes to work and more often for pleasure over Long Island’s coastlines and highways, spotting our house and circling it.
Don was a congregant, deacon, teacher, and softball player at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Melville, Long Island. Later in Granville, they found a new church home at the South Granville Congregational Church, where Don was again deacon. By this time, he had given up softball playing. Our Granville church family has been so loving and supportive during these last difficult years and we are most grateful for their many kindnesses.
Alice and Don had much pleasure in their 11 years together at their beautiful retirement home in South Granville where Don’s one-hole fairway went in before the house went up because as he said, “Priorities are priorities.” Don was an avid golfer and he enjoyed many an outing with his Granville golf buddies, always trying to break that evasive “100.” He also realized his lifelong ambition to drive a school bus (!?) and did this for many year for the Granville School District.
He enjoyed membership in the Granville Rotary Club, where he was one-time president, Rotarian of the Year in 2006, and was also awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship from that organization. When Don contracted multiple myeloma, he was being treated at the Veterans Hospital in Albany. Every member of the Rotary signed on to take turns to take Don for his cancer treatment at the Albany hospital once a month and they did this for over two years. This truly was an example of their fine motto “Service above Self,” and it was a generous kindness for which we are very grateful.
Alice and Don consider themselves fortunate in their happy 58-year marriage, their two wonderful sons, Gary and Dave, and their respective beautiful spouses, Theresa and Kathy. Most of all, they have enjoyed and are so proud of their four beloved grandchildren, Daniel, Brian, older and mature, and Devin and Brendan, younger and wow—energetic. Alice and Don always said, we can’t make girls, but adore our boys — the joy of our life.
They also have an abundant supply of nieces and nephews and very dear friends who have consistently visited and whose presence has always been enjoyed.
And finally, heartfelt thanks to those from Washington County Hospice who have rendered incalculable comfort and aid during Donald’s last days, not only with their equipment and expertise, but also with their compassion.
Don’s delightful sense of humor has been a hallmark of his personality and he exhibited it to the end, calling his wife, “Nurse Alice-almost as good as Linda.” With usual hindsight, we now know that his final good-bye was a major slamming of the back door at the moment of his death, just as Gary and Alice were grabbing a quick supper. He went out with a bang, and a not too subtle inference to Alice, whom he was always chiding for slamming his car doors to hard.
Throughout his life, Don has been a consistent giver and doer for others. He passed on this great gift to his heirs and we know that our Papa Don will always continue to love us and look after us.
Don would appreciate a joyous toast with either a Mallomar, his favorite cookie, or a Jack Daniels, his favorite drink.
For those wishing to make a memorial gift, Don would appreciate a donation to either of the following: South Granville Congregational Church, 7179 Route149, Granville, N.Y. 12832 or the Washington County Hospice,415 Lower Main St. Hudson Falls, N.Y. 12839
A memorial service to celebrate Don’s life will be held on Sunday, June 14, at noon at the South Granville Congregational Church with the Rev. Robert Flower officiating.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Robert M King Funeral Home,23 Church St., Granville, N.Y.