My Dad has Died

Several Weeks ago I offered to write my dad’s obituary. He agreed but only if I sent it to him for pre-approval. I did write a first draft but never did get it emailed to him which is just as well because Mom can’t open her email account anyway due to the fact that she only just knows how to turn the computer on.

Saturday night as Mom, DNOS and I sat up with Dad, I plugged in my trusty macbook and typed another draft, stopping periodically to read it to them for approval or clarification.

It didn’t occur to me until yesterday morning that I hadn’t run the obit by Dad, so as I sat with him I confessed that I had the obit written now but he was just going to have to trust me – and besides he wouldn’t have let me be so creative anyway. He would not chuckle as some have, and more will, when they read it in the paper on Wednesday. Not that he wouldn’t be amused, but he would never have given me the satisfaction and the most I would have gotten was a raised eyebrow and wiggling ears.


Donald passed away at 2 PM on October 27th after a short battle with lung cancer. He was 81 years old.

Donald was born in Washington Mills in 1927 and grew up in the Zwingle area. He was the fourth of six children born to James and Mary and is survived by two of his elder siblings, Elizabeth and Leo.

He attended Loras Academy and graduated in 1945. Just seventeen he immediately enlisted in the Navy and served in the medical core until his discharge in 1948.

Upon returning to Iowa, Donald took a job at the Packing House. He stayed with the plant until his retirement 44 years later.

As a young man, Donald played baseball with the New Melleray team, pitching to his younger brother Jimmy, the team’s catcher while his cousin Joe played center field. He loved to play ball and taught his older daughters to throw like boys and step up to the plate.

Card games of all kinds were a family tradition, and Donald enjoyed nothing better than sitting down to the kitchen table with family, or friends, and a deck of cards. He was the most graceful dancer and unlike most men he didn’t stop dancing once he was married. He found the New York Times crosswords entertaining and will be taking the dictionary he used while solving them to his grave with him, just in case he needs it. He never bought a car that was made in the same decade in which he was living, and he made very specific Christmas lists and assigned each of his family members the gift they were to give him so he always got what he wanted, a trait he passed on to his grandson, Z. Donald was a Pinewood Derby champion first with his son and again with his grandson, Z. He had Rice Krispies for breakfast every morning and a bowl of ice cream before bed every night, and he missed having boiled dinners though no one else in his family does.

Donald met his future wife, Ruth, at a dance in March of 1954, and they became engaged in June of 1956. They were married on a beautiful October weekend that same year. And not just because she had a brand new car as he liked to joke.

Donald and Ruth were married for 52 years, which is not something that everyone can boast of, and have four children: Ann (Robert), Katie (Joseph), Christopher, and Amie. They have five grandchildren and two step-granddaughters.

During his retirement, Donald volunteered as a math tutor at Central High School. He also spent many years as a driver delivering meals for the Meals on Wheels program, and he was a member of the St. Anthony’s prayer line.

Donald was a member of the St. Mary’s Credit Union board for many years. He enjoyed the work he did there and made many life long friends through his association with it.

Donald is survived by his wife Ruth, four children, five grandchildren, two step- granddaughters, sisters-in law Eileen and Donna Mae and brothers-in-law Irvin and Donald and many nieces, nephews and their children. He was proceeded in death by his parents, his sisters Margaret Mary and Joan, his younger brother Jimmy, brothers-in-law, Red, Francis, Arnie and three sisters-in-law, Bernadette and Elaine and Dorothy  as well as his niece Darlene and great-nephew, Keith and his son-in-law, William.

Donald asked that any memorials be made to Saint Monfort Parish in Haiti and Hospice of Dubuque.

His family gives special thanks to Dr. K. and Dr. S. for their excellent care of Donald and to Hospice of Dubuque, especially Ann, Nicole and Jane. Donald would have echoed their sentiments.

Donald C. was one of a kind. He was greatly loved and will be missed terribly.

15 thoughts on “My Dad has Died

  1. Dear Annie, I’m sorry for the loss of your dad. It’s a milestone, especially if we’re lucky enough to have our dads in our lives. Hope your family will be OK. Take care, Karen R. Ann Arbor

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss, Annie. Your obit was lovely and I’m sure your dad would have been really happy with it. You did a great job and I’ll bet he would have been proud of you for that. Best wishes to your family at this sad time. We lost my grandpa (dad’s dad) to lung cancer on the 19th- it’s hard even when it’s expected.

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how hard it is to lose a dad. I’m sure he would have been very proud of the obit. Sounds like he had a life well-lived.

  4. even when you’re ready for it, it’s hard…

    lovely obituary! made me grin – and you’ve done a great job of capturing who he was! Take care of yourself…

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