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Don Gateman

Rhody Family Funeral Home

Donald William was born in Hanover on Friday, May 14, 1948, to parents Milton and Irene (Ellis) Gateman. The Gateman family operated a mixed farm on the 12th of Bentinck (which is still in the family today) where Don joined older siblings Carol, Gerald, Eleanor, Ruth, and Glenna. Younger brother Jim made the family complete. The children attended nearby Howie School (S.S. #7). During his youth, Don enjoyed and excelled at baseball, a passion that remained with him throughout life as he took delight in every opportunity to cheer on his beloved Blue Jays, not to mention faithfully following the Toronto Maple Leafs. Go Leafs! Don went on to attend Chesley District High School where he was in the same class with a young woman by the name of Janice Lee Mink. They began dating and were later wed in October of 1969.

Following high school Don enrolled with the Ontario Provincial Police. He was soon off to Aylmer, and the military-style barracks – an eye-opener, for a six-week crash course in policing. Don’s first work placement was in Forest, where he, Janice, and his young son, Jeff (1970) soon settled in 1970. The Gatemans welcomed Troy in 1972, before Don transferred back closer to home the following year and began working from the Walkerton detachment. Don purchased a farm on the 14th of Brant where their family was made complete with the arrival of Mike in 1974. Don spent the next 35 years policing for the OPP (Walkerton and later South Bruce) and Chesley Police Department, before retiring in 2008. The gentle giant walked the fine line of policing in your home community. No easy feat, yet he quickly gained the respect of his colleagues and civilians. Stories of these many tales remain with us, and Don’s legacy continues to live on.

Although policing was Don’s vocation, farming ran in his blood. With the exception of a few years in Hanover, the 10th of both Bentinck and Brant, is where Don spent much of his life. He raised pigs in Bentinck and had a cow/calf operation in Brant. He often joked that he was a farmer, but his day job supported it! Don loved being in the bush to cut trees, hunt or fish. Along with local outlets, there were many fishing and moose hunting adventures to northern Ontario and Quebec throughout the years often including at least one son and his brother.

Don had an appreciation for old cars and tractors. His ’49 Chevy Torpedo, ’69 Oldsmobile 442, and his old Farmall M tractors were favourites. Don also delighted in a good game of cards that usually meant solo, euchre, and crib but was also a big fan of a good game of crokinole. He liked disguises a.k.a. dressing up. No Halloween was complete without Don in full disguise. Or dressing up as Santa and going to different homes. Whiskey was Don’s go-to, but in the past, he was also known to enjoy a Granny Smith apple with salt.  Pie and cookies were his soft spot, and he was by no means picky.

Sadly, Don was dealt his fair share of challenges with the biggest being when Jan was diagnosed with MS. She was young, in the prime of her life, when this awful disease struck. Don quickly became a big supporter of the MS Society and continued to do his part for the remainder of his life. Don and his family cared for her at home, all the while still trying to work and farm, however, the disease managed to be too much, and Jan passed away in 2003 at the young age of 55.

Don adapted to life without Jan, with the support of family and friends, and in time was able to return to a more normal routine. In July of 2004, while attending Elmwood Homecoming, Don reconnected with a high school girlfriend (true story) by the name of Doreen Elaine Disney. Don had a way of giving almost everyone he knew a nickname, but Doreen came with her own, Dolly, which he quickly adopted. As they say, the rest is history, and the two were married on Friday, September 14, 2007. Don and Doreen enjoyed traveling and experienced Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Las Vegas, Nova Scotia, and many places in between. Together, they also explored the British Isles and Europe including Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France. Each adventure together gave them stories to tell for several years. Retirement meant more free time, so Don could often be found enjoying an old Western movie, especially anything with Clint Eastwood, an episode of Gunsmoke or Bonanza, or a game show on television. He also liked to read, whereby he exhausted the Bruce County Library’s collection of Westerns in large print!

Don was hardworking with a work ethic that meant you stayed at a job until it was done. A frequently heard saying was “Once started, half done.” He was a very social man who loved practical jokes. A beloved hobby every spring was tapping for maple syrup that Jeff, Troy, and Mike have since done themselves. He was always very fair. If you had Don’s word, you knew there would be no wavering. Thankfully, many of these traits and characteristics have been passed down to his sons and to all his grandchildren who will undoubtedly pass them on to their children. Don passed away surrounded by his family, on Monday, April 24, 2023, at the age of 74 exactly three weeks before his 75th birthday.

Beloved husband of Doreen “Dolly” (Disney). Loving father of Jeff (Kathy) of Severn Bridge, Troy (Tracy) of Hanover, and Mike (Dawn) of Shallow Lake. Cherished grandfather of Jaimie (Ryan), Madison (Gabriel), Graham, Cameryn, and Janelle. Don will be dearly missed by his step-grandchildren, Tyler (Jocelyn), Zac, Samantha (Thoeun), Jordan (Josh), and step-great-grandchildren Kai and Astrid. Dear brother of Carol Calhoun of Chatham, Ruth Beckenhauer of Georgetown, Glenna McMillan of Hanover, and Jim (Anne) of Elmwood. He will be fondly remembered by the entire Mink and Disney families. Don was predeceased by his first wife Janice (Mink) Gateman, sister Eleanor McCaslin and Buck Pederson, brother Gerald and Iris Gateman, brothers-in-law Jack Calhoun, Bruce McMillan, Murray Edwards, sisters-in-law Shirley Disney, Bonnie Bierwoth, and his parents Milton and Irene (Ellis) Gateman.

A celebration of Don’s life will be held at the Elmwood Community Centre on Saturday, May 6, 2023, from 2 – 5 p.m., all are welcome. Inurnment in St. John Lutheran Cemetery, Elmwood.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to MS Canada, Diabetes Canada, or The Kidney Foundation of Canada would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.

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