Donald Edward was born on August 23, 1941 in Hanover. He was the youngest child of Henry and Laurine (Schilling) Beckenhauer, joining older siblings Gordon (1935), Harry (1936) and Ruth (1939). He attended public school in Elmwood and was among the first group of high school students sent to high school in Chesley. By this time, Don was already working side-by-side with his father in the family business, Beckenhauer Garage, which was established in 1949. He soon left school, passed his mechanic license, and began working full-time as a mechanic at the garage at 16.
Through his late teens and early 20's, Don picked up a few nicknames that included "Abe" and "Shore." Don's sidekick in many of his early day adventures was Don Ahrens, a.k.a. "The Squire" or "Joe Black." I am told they made quite the duo, and many of their outings gave them stories that lasted their lifetime. Don also decided at the age of 16 to join the Elmwood Fire Department. He remained a member for the next 49 years, as he was forced to retire (by current legislation) at the age of 65. During his tenure, he acted as Fire Chief for ten years.
In 1963 Don attended a dance at the Rendezvous (Knights of Columbus Hall, Hanover) where he was introduced to a young woman by the name of Verna Jean Reay. They danced the night away before Verna drove Don home, as his friend whom he came with wasn't real happy with him dancing with Verna. :) The two began dating immediately and were soon married at St. James Anglican Church in Hanover on July 9, 1965. They moved immediately into their newly built home in Elmwood and soon welcomed their first two children, Holly (1967) and Scot (1970). Don bought the garage from his father in 1972, which included a fleet of school buses as well. Their family was complete after the additions of Erin (1978) and Trevor (1979).
In 1983, Verna and Don purchased a rural 40-acre property on the outskirts of Elmwood. This soon became their country oasis and weekend home. In the early years, they camped on the property, working to clear it and make it their own. Over the years they built it up and it soon became known as "Cedar Rose." Don loved this property and it became home for him and Verna in 2014 when they built their final home. When not hunting on the property Don could often be found building or repairing something. He also loved entertaining friends and family at the property. When alone, he was also accompanied by his furry four-legged friend, with Dallas and Rosie being favourites.
When not busy at work or play, Don remained active within the community. He was a member of the Elmwood Chamber of Commerce and St. John's Lutheran Church, whereby he was active with the Church Council and the Property Committee, clearing snow at the church for years. Other free time was spent snowmobiling, flying his remote model airplanes, woodworking, and hunting. He always looked forward to his yearly trip north to Nipigon for moose hunting with the boys and I am told was a great shot!
Don and Verna explored much of the east and west coast of Canada in their motor home. He also enjoyed taking bus trips down to the Blue Jays game and was a big fan of the team. He was known to enjoy the occasional beverage, with a beer or a shot of Wiser's being his favourites. Following getting a guest a drink, Don would often follow that up with an offer of a pepperette from Bentinck Packers. He was also well known for his sauerkraut and odd mixtures when it came to combining foods for a meal. He read the paper daily, to keep up on local news. Reading was also used to gain knowledge as Don strongly believed that you "never buy anything you can make yourself!"
He was a patient, easy-going man who led a simple life. His smile was contagious and he was always in search of the next bargain. He could literally fix anything, big or small, and was known to do things his own way, which might have frustrated Verna on more than one occasion. Don was slow to anger, but apparently Trevor had one run-in with the dishwasher, that stirred his dad up a bit and was quite memorable. He was very close with friends and family and his absence will be dearly missed during family meals and holidays.
In 2008, Don began to experience early symptoms of dementia. His dad had suffered the same fate, so he was diagnosed early. Verna and her family worked hard to continue to care for him at home as his condition worsened. In May of 2017, he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and remained at home with Verna until July of this year. He passed away at Parkview Manor, Chesley on Thursday, October 17, 2019, in his 79th year.
Beloved husband of Verna (Reay). Loving father of Holly (John) McCurdy of New Hamburg, Scot (Rhonda), Erin (Doug) Cowell, all of Elmwood and Trevor (Tina) of Sherwood Park, Alberta. Don will be dearly missed by his grandchildren Laura (Nick), Sean (Ascacia), Ian (Megan), Emily, Sarah, Benjamin, Gracie, Vanessa, Shea, Erick, and great-grandchildren Michael, Evelyn and Ethan. Sadly missed by his brothers Gordon of Waterloo, Harry (Lorraine) of Kelowna, B.C., and the entire Reay family. Don was predeceased by his sister Ruth Beckenhauer (George Kelly), sister-in-law Doreen Beckenhauer and his parents Henry and Laurine (Schilling) Beckenhauer.
A memorial service honouring Don’s life will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Elmwood on Saturday, October 26, 2019 at 11 a.m. Inurnment in St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery. A celebration of Don’s life will follow in the upstairs level of the Elmwood Community Centre from 1 - 4 p.m., all are welcome.
Memorial donations to the Elmwood Fire Department, Hanover Day Away Program (please make cheques payable to HCSS) or St. John’s Lutheran Church would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.Send to friend