Donald William Williams, loving father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, and loyal friend passed peacefully in his sleep on August 24, 2022 in Keizer, Oregon. Don was 92 years old. A rosary and funeral mass will be held on September 2nd at the Holy Family Catholic Church at 10AM and 11AM respectively. A burial service will immediately follow. Family and friends are invited to a luncheon and celebration of life at the Catholic Hall afterwards.
Don was born September 21, 1929 in Emmett, Idaho to Hanna Crossen Williams and Stanton Koontz Williams. He was the youngest of 10 boys, a sometimes rough and tumble group. He had pets of all kinds, including dogs, a pony, a mule and a rescued cub bear from the forest.
In his youth, Don was known for his adventures and mechanical abilities. He was a risk taker. He told stories about jumping out of trees with friends, swimming in the irrigation canal, and taunting the local police as a fun teenage night out driving. He also enjoyed driving fast on hills, spinning cookies in the parking lots in the snow and fixing his car while driving down the road.
Don was raised on a farm where he developed a knack for fixing things. His knack started early with maintaining his bicycle and evolved to when he was age 14 fixing his 1928 Durant to then to being able to fix any automobile or mechanical machine. He frequently told the story of how his father encouraged him along this path, saying “Now, he’s going to be a mechanic”. Those were proud words from his father.
He was a man of many talents and a captivating storyteller. He was a hands-on learner, an active member of the ‘Old Time Fiddlers’, the Lions Club and the Knights of Columbus. He also served in the National Guard as a First Sergeant. He was an excellent ballroom dancer and could dance the Cuban conga, the Rumba, the Jenny Lind’s favorite, the Polka, the California Schottische, the Black Hawk Waltz, the Mood Winks 3-step and many more. He and LaWanda were “famous” for their dancing the 2-step and the waltz together. They took ballroom classes at the Elks Club, practiced their sequences in the living room, attended all-night square-dancing get-togethers at the Grange Hall and the Filmore Grade School.
He was a self-taught expert harmonica player, a plumber, an electrician, a builder, an eager student to learn to play the violin, the guitar, the banjo; frankly anything he would strum he’d learn to play. He loved people, and especially loved to share stories. He would croon out a song whenever he was asked or the feeling hit him, and carried his harmonica in his pocket, always ready to play a tune for anyone. After disappearing in a pub in Ireland, his family found him by following the sound of his harmonica playing with the local music makers. At a harmonica festival in Idaho, he spontaneously took the stage and again his lost family found him playing his harmonica for the crowd.
Don, with the help of his father-in-law, added on to a one-room shack, creating a 2 bedroom home, in which Don, LaWanda & their children resided in Burns. As Don told the story, the original place was so tiny that you had to go all the way into the bathroom to be able to close the bathroom door.
Don attended Emmet High School and moved to Burns Oregon in 1947 to pursue work as a mechanic. He took a home course in electronics, which enable him to trouble shoot and repair tv’s and other electronics. He was also a licensed electrician and had a small craft Pilot’s license.
Don worked at a variety of jobs ranging from tire shops, millwork, etc. and then became head of the maintenance department at the Harney County Hospital for many years, which he eventually retired from. and a certified hams radio operator He was a TV repairman when TVs had tubes and was an expert knife sharpener as a sideline gig. A man of many talents and interests.
Don met LaWanda Hayes in 1952 at a Crane Dance. LaWanda taught Don to dance. The two had so much in common and a lot fun that night; they would have been together for 65 years in June of 2018, when LaWanda passed.
Don was known for coming to the aid of family and friends providing hands on help day or night, serving as a mentor figure when one was absent. He was a family man, spending time with them fishing, hunting, water skiing, and cutting wood for the winter. He taught his children how to drive stick shift on the back roads of Harney County, and even taught one grandchild to drive to the gravel pit before she had her permit. He was excellent at fixing/diagnosing any mechanical or house related issue, fixing complicated auto repair issues, and ensuring that all friends and family had a decent and economical car to drive.
Don was known for his integrity and as a dedicated worker who tackled any job enthusiastically and went above and beyond to provide excellent service to customers. He was referred to as the most reliable and trustworthy friend, an amazing human, a great listener, always there for others, a good, good man, and simply put, self-less. Don treated everyone with dignity and unconditionally accepted all people he met including people down on their luck needing work.
He was curious, spontaneous, and always ready to go on an adventure to a junk yard, car lot or window shopping downtown. He loved going for coffee with the gang at the deli, and getting his hair cut at the local barber’s. He had a travel bug; it gave him joy exploring Ireland, Wisconsin & Montana on family history trips, visiting family on holidays, touring around the town, and generally meandering on trips to the coast or planning the next vacation.
He is survived by his children: Dana Williams (Rhonda), LaDonna Macomber, Valerie Williams-Hurwitz (David) and Tonia Williams-Wood, by his grandchildren: Nicole Macomber, Sarah Hurwitz, Alex Wood and Seth Wood; by his great grandchildren, Isabelle Wood, Elijah Wood (Alex Wood); by nephews and nieces: Mike Williams, Jody Boyce, Alice Stills, Dee Stills, and numerous cousins. He’s preceded in death by his wife, Lawanda Hayse Williams and his brothers Charles, Norman, Maurice, Stewart, Lawrence, Dale, Stanley, Daniel, and 2 others who died at birth.
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