Don passed away quietly at home on May 4, 2008. Don was born in Carnduff, Saskatchewan where he grew up. A self-taught figure skater, at age 15 he started a figure skating club which still thrives and in recent years he established a figure skating bursary for a promising skater in the club. In the early fifties he joined the Ice Capades and traveled throughout North America with the ice shows. Later, he taught figure skating in Calgary, Banff, Red Deer and other cities in Alberta. In the off season he taught driving.
In the meanwhile his interest in theatre was piqued, and as well as producing ice shows, he directed many plays, Gilbert & Sullivan operas and eventually opened his own theatre, the Mac Theatre. When joined with Workshop 14 to become Mac 14, it eventually formed the nucleus of Theatre Calgary – the city’s first professional theatre.
As a born teacher, Don was finally persuaded to return to university and complete his teaching degree. And here again when he began teaching he was very successful. In his first year he produced the London West End musical, “Oliver” and this was followed in successive years by “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat,” “Mikado,” “Salad Days” and others all in elementary schools. He also developed a new approach to reading, using Readers Theatre – a method used by many teachers now in many parts of Canada and the US. Because of his very effective workshops, Don’s success as a teacher spread and at his retirement, one of the speakers called Don “a legend in his own time.”
In his retirement to Salt Spring in 1987, Don continued his interest in theatre by founding a Readers Theatre group which produced several evenings of theatre and was even invited to perform at the BC Senior Games in Coquitlam. He also looked over the luncheons at Seniors, changing the soup and sandwich format to a full meal and always with a dramatic flair!
Predeceased by his parents Joe & Isabella and his younger sister Connie, Don is survived by one brother Bob, sister Dolores in Victoria and sister Mary in Calgary, as well as his long time friend and partner Dan and many nephews and nieces. At his request there will be no funeral. A Celebration of Life will be held later.
Many thanks to the many health care workers who have provided such a support over Don’s final few weeks: to Dr. David Woodley for his wonderful, dedicated care over the years, for visiting nurses under Sharon MacKinnon, the home support help, the superb staff at Lady Minto, the ambulance drivers and our caregiver Carmen. Also to Sharon at Wellness, the support of GLOSSI members, Caffyn & Mearnie, Scott & Bruce and the support of friends and neighbours.