Donald Dean DeBeer, son of William and L. Louise (Lamm) DeBeer, was born 2 June 1935 in Sharon Springs, Kansas and passed away 12 February 2023 in Westminster, Colorado. He was 87 years old.
During his childhood, Don lived in Sharon Springs; Colorado Springs and Grand Junction, Colorado; Oakland, California; and Newberg, Oregon. He also spent a lot of time on his Grandfather Lamm’s farm near Ramah, Colorado.
Don enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 in 1952. After graduating from the Aircrew Flight School, NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, he served on the aircraft carrier, USS Point Cruz, during and after the Korean War. He did two tours in the Far East: Korea and Japan. During the war, the Point Cruz was converted to an Anti-Submarine Warfare Vessel. Don rotated between Ship Company and Squadron Duty. After the armistice was signed, his ship was part of Operation Platform and air-lifted via helicopter 5000 Indian peace-keeping troops to Panmunjom buffer zone, Don had two power failures that resulted in emergency set-downs in rice paddies. After the operation ended, his ship adopted an abandoned Korean American baby and cared for him for two weeks before he was transferred to a civilian ship in Japan. The movie One Thousand Men and a Baby was based on this. Following the war, his ship was stationed in Japan, and they patrolled the waters near the U.S.S.R.
After his discharge, he returned to Colorado where he lived for the rest of his life. He earned an Associate Degree in Electronics and credits toward a degree in engineering. He also completed courses at several trade schools. Don began his career at General Electric before moving on to 3M followed by positions with a few local businesses. During his long career, Don designed special equipment for the dictation and recording industry, designed professional sound systems, and designed, sold, and installed courtroom and recording systems, He and a co-worker designed and built mobile classrooms with video and language labs. These classrooms were contracted by the federal government and used to educate the children of migrant workers working in the fields. He also installed the sound system at Casa Bonita. He had a part-time career with a detective agency checking for and removing electronic surveillance devices from businesses and homes of several well-known people in the state. He said his most memorable job was in the home of journalist/author Hunter Thompson. Don was qualified as an expert witness in electronic surveillance. He also examined recordings to see if they had been doctored.
Above all, Don was a devoted family man. He married Wanda Withington on 26 January 1957 in Colorado Springs. They celebrated their 66th anniversary a few weeks ago. Don and Wanda had three daughters: Beverly, Karen, and Donna. Because of his chaotic and nomadic childhood, he wanted his children to have stability and strong root and, thus, turned down career opportunities that would involve frequent transfers. He and his family moved into their house in Thornton in 1964 and remained there. He was also a loving and involved grandfather, great-grandfather, and uncle. He and Wanda went to many school programs, concerts, plays, and graduations for their grandchildren. He also loved his dogs, Greif and Laddie, and the fish in his backyard pond and aquarium.
Don enjoyed working in his yard and garden. He also liked working in his workshop and fixing things. Through the years he built several pieces of furniture and at least one doll case. Don was an avid reader and a big fan of music and songs from the Great American Songbook era and traditional Country music.
Don took the family on several vacations that included all the western states and all the mid-western states except North Dakota. He and Wanda also visited Georgia, South Carolina, the Bay Area, New England, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D. C.
Don was selected for the September 2018 Honor Flight to Washington D. C. and was immensely proud and honored.
He was deeply loved and will be deeply missed by his family and friends.
Don is survived by Wanda; his daughters Beverly Martinez, Karen (Rick) Theisen, Donna (Landon) Williams, and honorary daughter Suzi Medina; grandchildren Leann (Brent Self) Martinez, Nicholas (Samantha) Martinez, Christopher (Kimberly) Warner, Carame (Harley Christman) Warner, Crystal Warner, Bekah Theisen, Matthew Theisen, Abby (Carter) Crabb, Trent (Micaela Adam) Williams, Lydia Theisen, Kayleen Williams, and honorary granddaughter Natalia Medina; great-grandchildren Rayden and Frankie Christman, Jacen and Jaden Harvey, and Kamrynn Warner; step-sister Arleen (Don) Walton, step-brother Frank Peabody; Aunt Barbara Krug, and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents, stepfather Frank Peabody, stepmother Grace DeBeer, sister Wilma Webb, stepsister Barbara Smith, niece Debbie Smith, nephews Mike Webb and Victor Walton, and sons-in-law Mark Warner and Robert Martinez.
His funeral will be held 23 February 2023 at 11:00 at the Horan & McConaty Funeral home, 9998 Grant St., Thornton followed by burial with military honors at Olinger Funeral, Cremation, & Cemetery – Highland, I-25 and 104th Ave.
Donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or the American Kidney Fund in Don’s memory.