Donald “Don” Black, age 90, died peacefully in his home in Arvada, Colorado on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2022.
Don was born in Michigan, where he lived until he joined the Navy in 1950. He was proud to share his stories of service and his claim to fame was that he didn’t know how to swim! He was able to travel around the world and worked as an aircraft mechanic.
Don was married to Aurelia “Aurie” Black for 65 years. They met as he was working as a produce manager and she was a new hire. He taught her how to bag potatoes – he liked to tell the story that it was the last time he got to tell her what to do! They started their family in Westland, Michigan where they lived until 1980 when he was transferred with United Airlines to Colorado.
He worked as an aircraft mechanic for 37 years at United Airlines. He made many lifelong friends who have said he was the best friend and father figure at work. He was well known for his quick sense of humor and pranks while on the job. One time when he was on a two weeklong vacation, the other mechanics played a prank on him: they used rolls and rolls of duct tape and locks and chains on his toolbox and hoisted it up 10 feet with a pulley. They laughed in anticipation of how angry he would be and how long it would take to clean up the toolbox. Don had the last laugh! He caught wind of the prank and came in 8 hours early to clean up the toolbox. By time the guys got there and followed him into the tool room, the toolbox was back to normal and he pretended like nothing had happened!
Don and Aurie had eight children together: Renee David (Jeff) of Brighton, MI; Dennis (Katherine) of Sparta, NJ; Robert (Laura) of Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Gary (Kristin) of Meridian, ID; Jacqueline Wathier (Bob) of Westminster, CO; Mari Eisaman (Kent) of Aurora, CO; Andrea Latzer (Jack) of Broomfield, CO; and Annette Bowman (Todd) of Ashland Ohio. His famous quote about having kids was, “I had 3 sons, but it was the 5 daughters that gave me a head of gray hair!”
The family of 10 lived in a 900 square foot house with one bathroom. He worked midnights for many years and it was hard to keep that many kids quiet during the day! The kids knew if they were loud and he banged on the wall they were in a little bit of trouble – but if he pounded his foot on the floor they were in a lot of trouble because that meant he was half way out of bed! All of the neighbors had call waiting, but not the Blacks! They had to keep their phone calls short because United might be calling with an offer of overtime.
When the move to Colorado in 1980 happened, only the 4 youngest children made the move to a bigger house with a great mountain view. He enjoyed watching the sunset on his back patio and developed a love for nature, especially hummingbirds. He also spent a good deal of time sitting on the rock in the front of the house, always ready to socialize with the neighbors.
Don was blessed with 20 grandchildren. Since they were spread out across the county, he couldn’t see them nearly as much as he would like. He stayed in contact with them on phone calls and enjoyed telling them stories about their parents and learning about what was going on in their lives. Even with 20 grandchildren, he knew them each individually and often had private jokes and nick names for them. He spent countless hours watching his digital frame pictures and watching them grow into adults and learning about their accomplishments. Don had 11 great grandchildren as well - he always loved to hold the babies! He enjoyed the drawings the kids would send and watching the texted video greetings they would send.
Don is preceded in death by his five siblings. He had a special admiration for Father Solanus Casey whose lifelong service to the sick and the poor has him on the road to Sainthood. Don had clear childhood memories of Father Solanus which are well documented with stories he loved to share. He had family photographs that he cherished including one of the Father at the bedside of his beloved mother, Lillian.
The good years far outweighed the bad years, but he did have medical challenges the last several years of his life. He enjoyed watching David Muir, 60 Minutes, hummingbirds, chocolate, pie, and music videos on YouTube. He disliked people sharing information on FaceBook (or Yearbook as he liked to call it), current technology, and burning candles (see the yellow flag!) and cats.
As luck would have it, Don had a history of ending up in the hospital for a medical issue or surgery on holidays and birthdays . The final week of his life, Aurie had a feeling he would pass on the holiday – it was just his last special good-bye to the family. He departed this earth on Thanksgiving – his family will always be thankful to have had his impact our lives.