If you asked Don how he was doing, he'd say, "Not bad for a beginner." Not long ago, he was asked what he meant by that. "I'm 91," he said. "Everything is new." Don's open embrace of whatever life brought was reflected until his final days. "Ready to go," he said in his last words.
Don died at home with his family. He was devoted to his wife Joan, son John, daughter Jancy, son-in-law Steve Singer and grandsons Ben and Sam Singer.
Born on March 3, 1928, in Rochester, N.Y., he grew up in a German-speaking neighborhood. He attended grammar school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (which he always noted was called Oscar's Little Peanut House by the kids) and he graduated in 1946 from Aquinas Institute.
Don served in the Army in Korea from 1946 to 1948. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Rochester, earning a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1952. He sold industrial heating, ventilating and air-conditioning equipment until he retired in 1991, often spreading his blueprints on the kitchen table and working into the night.
A photo in their 1960 wedding album shows Don standing on his hands next to his beloved Joanie, who's smiling broadly. Don had a terrific sense of humor and loved to laugh. He had many amusing sayings, which his children collected, such as: "Yay-bo!" "You big schnook." "Beats the hell out of me." "What's it to you, babe?"
Don loved to read and learn, and for many years, he was the family's go-to dictionary and encyclopedia. He sailed at the Canandaigua Yacht Club and skied at Hunt Hollow Ski Club, where he was a charter member. Don and Joan retired to Naples and traveled to many countries, sometimes exploring Don's late-blooming passion for anthropology and archaeology.
In 1991, they opened Hunts Hollow Perennial Gardens. They tended nearly 100 varieties of plants and until 1998 shared their joy of gardening with many loyal customers. Joan was the horticulturalist. Don was the muscle, calling himself the All-Purpose Employee, or APE.
Don served on the board of directors at the Bristol Valley Theater. He and Joan attended St. Januarius Church.
He was a most intelligent, industrious, deeply good man who was committed to caring for his family, who loved him dearly. He will be greatly and sadly missed by his family and friends.
Those who wish may make a donation in his memory to Our Lady of the Lakes, St. Januarius, 180 N. Main Street, Naples, N.Y. 14512, or to the Rochester and Finger Lakes Region of the Alzheimer's Association by calling 800-272-3900.
A memorial Mass will be held at St. Januarius at 11am on Saturday, December 21st, 2019.