By Ian Doremus
An Extremely caring and loving man left this world doing what he loved. While visiting friends Don took the opportunity with his wife and friends to enjoy the outdoors spending some time near a river in Tillamook County when his heart gave out. Don loved the outdoors, he loved being active, and most of all he loved life. A couple weeks earlier he rode 200 miles in the Seattle to Portland bike ride. He spent his summers camping, hiking and swimming. He would chide me that I spent so much time in the office while he was having fun.
Don was born in November 29, 1961, in Youngstown, Ohio. Out of school he joined the U.S. Navy, serving eight years active duty on the USS Cape Cod, and as an instructor at the Anti-Submarine Warfare Base in San Diego. Don met his wife, Cindy, on the USS Cape Cod, and after active duty they moved to Eugene to start their new life.
Don first and foremost cared about helping people; he also loved having fun. He had a great sense of humor. He was a great person to spend time with, and his enthusiasm for life was infectious.
Don earned a masters degree in education and went on to teach second grade at Caesar Chavez Elementary. Some years were hard but he never gave up on those kids. Don loved each and every one of them. They were part of his family outside of their home. When he was in town and his past and present students came up to him, he would fully engage in them.
Don was also a First Responder with the Lane Rural Fire Department Station #53 in Cheshire. He attended most Monday night drills, most calls, and even played on the softball team. He served alongside very experienced, professional men and women in our county.
He was also a man of God. He knew that his life first belonged to Christ and lived his life that way. He was a Sunday school teacher at The Kings Grace Fellowship.
Three years ago he decided to fulfill one of his dreams. He was a very experienced telemark skier and decided to join the Willamette Pass Ski Patrol. He loved being on the snow. After many long weekends driving up to the OEC class in Corvallis and more on-hill training, Don was awarded his patroller jacket in March of the 2006-2007 season.
Upon becoming a patroller it became immediately apparent that Don belonged on Patrol 3, the land of the misfit toys. Patrol 3 is loosely known as the patrol that has sometimes a little too much fun, but always works hard. I think that says why Don belonged on Patrol 3.
Don always showed up on time, and anytime he was asked to do a task for the patrol, he did it with a smile. He was always willing to do whatever was necessary as long as it involved skiing to get there. On more than one occasion, during a powder day, the Hill Chief would go looking for Don. He would call him on the radio, and Don would eventually answer that he was checking the trees, which is patroller speak for “Boss, I’m trying to get some fresh turns in this fresh powder.”
Although Don was only on the Willamette Pass Ski Patrol for a few seasons, he made his mark on every member of the organization. The Willamette Pass Ski Patrol is now not nearly as whole as it was before Don passed. There is a piece of all of us that left with him.
Don leaves behind his wife, Cindy, and kids Kaila and Holly. He will be missed.