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Donald L. Amsden passed away peacefully on a beautiful spring day just after 11 AM, April 28, 2023, at the age of 106. He lived his long life joyfully and embodied the injunction of Micah 6:8 “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with his God.”
Donald was born in Toledo, OH on March 31, 1917. He graduated from Macomber (Technical) High School and became a draftsman. Donald attained the rank of sergeant during his WW II military service in communications while in the Aleutian Islands off Alaska’s coast and in Italy. After his service, he used the G.I. Bill to attend night school to study electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic engineering.
He was interested in all things mechanical and a natural problem-solver, holding the position of engineer at the international bottle manufacturing corporation, Owen-Illinois of Toledo, OH, where he designed control panels for plastic bottle manufacturing machines. During the 1960’s he helped oversee the final stages of construction of a set of bottle manufacturing machines in Bologna, Italy. The trip was especially exciting for him as he was accompanied by his wife, Oleen, who was a life-long art enthusiast and artist with a special affection for Renaissance painters and sculptors and the Roman Empire. They were able to travel around Italy and see locations they had only dreamed of seeing. Before retiring, he traveled internationally to supervise machine and control panel operation, maintenance, and repair in Asia and Europe.
Always active, Donald took up jewelry making with polished stones and fondly referred to himself as a “rockhound,” the term used for jewelry makers who size up the raw stones at craft shows. He and Oleen split their time after retirement between Toledo and Ft. Meyers, FL. He was a practiced golfer and enjoyed playing until late in life, going on a trip to South Carolina with his son to play 90 holes in five days to celebrate his 90th birthday.
Donald and Oleen B. Stewart were married in Seattle, WA on May 26, 1942 and celebrated their 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries. The couple moved to Ripon in 2004 to be near their only son, Robert, and his family.
The couple quickly became rooted in the Ripon community with Don volunteering at the hospital, the library, and the Historical Society, making many friends while doing so. Their photo hung on the wall above the table where they ate lunch at Seasons Coffee Shop every weekday for many months. Oleen passed away suddenly on November 29, 2005, and Don had a memorial tree planted for her on Historical Society’s grounds.
Donald was a proud grandfather to Phillip Amsden and Nalani Amsden. He welcomed several exchange students into the family, inquiring about their countries and their lives with the same curiosity he brought to all his relationships. He followed Philip’s travels and his career as a musician avidly and happily celebrated Phillip’s engagement to Ashton MacGregor. Donald formed a special bond with Nalani and his “bonus granddaughters” Esther and Sarah Rodman who visited him after middle school many days for snack time and card games. He quizzed Nalani about her work with elephants as a zookeeper at the Kansas City Zoo and knew the names of every elephant in the herd.
Donald enjoyed a late life romance with Shirley Williams of Ripon, attending a variety of arts, social, and family events with her during their five years together before she passed away.
Always social and friendly, Donald was a Mason and a Shriner and joined Ripon Kiwanis after moving here. He was a friend of and attended the First Congregational Church of Ripon.
Donald was a long-term resident of Prairie Place Assisted Living in Ripon where he defeated Covid-19 twice in the last 16 months. He made many friends at Prairie Place with his ready wit, charm, and warm, welcoming, and non-judgmental personality. During his last year he became interested in questions about the solar system, galaxies, and the formation of the universe. He and Bob spent many evening hours going over basic information about sizes, distances, and time in space, especially information about the planets in our solar system.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Leafa Amsden, his brothers Harold and Richard, and his wife Oleen. He is survived by his son Robert and his wife Jeanne Williams, his grandchildren Phillip Amsden of Chicago, IL and Nalani Amsden of Kansas City, MO, and Phillip’s fiancé Ashton MacGregor, also of Chicago, IL. He has surviving relatives in the Iowa City, IA area including niece Lisa Lynes (Erick) and nephew Robert Stewart (Rachelle) and his grand nephew and nieces: Victor Bruno, Sarah, Natalie, and Evelyn Stewart. He is also survived by his longtime best friend, Mel Barrios of Toledo, OH.
Donald’s family expresses their deepest appreciation for the staff of Prairie Place Assisted Living facility and the Hospice Hope of SSM Health for the loving care and attention they provided for Donald over the last seventeen months. He enjoyed their company and care and appreciated their willingness to laugh and joke with him every day.
Visitation for Donald Amsden will be held at First Congregational Church of Ripon from 9 AM until 11 AM on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, with a special Mason’s Memorial Service at 8:30 AM which the public may attend. A funeral service follows the visitation at 11:15 AM and friends are invited to join the family for a little lunch and a variety of pies, especially pumpkin, which was one of Don’s favorites, in the Fellowship Hall after the service. Interment will take place at 1:45 PM at Garden of the Cross Cemetery in Ripon.
Memorial gifts in Donald’s name may be directed to Ripon College Franzen Science Center/Advancement/300 Seward St./Ripon WI 54971; Hope Hospice/Agnesian HealthCare Foundation/ssmHealth.com; First Congregational Church of Ripon/220 Ransom St./Ripon WI 54971; or the Salvation Army of Fond Du Lac County/237 N. Macy St./Fond du lac WI 543935.
Please visit www.ButzinMarchant.com to send online condolences.
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
9:00 - 11:00am
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
11:15am - 12:15pm
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
1:45 - 2:00pm
Garden of the Cross Cemetery
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