Oct. 2, 2018, one day before his 75th birthday, my husband, my best friend and the father of our three daughters died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was many things to many people, and the amount of public service he packed into his busy life was simply amazing. But I will let other people tell you about that. I want to tell you about the man I loved constantly for close to a half century.
In 1969, I was a 22-year-old student just finishing my fine arts/teaching degree at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. Some years earlier, Don had completed an MBA degree in finance and accounting while in his home state of New York. After graduation, he voluntarily enlisted in the military, but after 12-months of “grunt” work, he decided to extend his commitment so he could attend Army Officer Candidate School. Assignment as an infantry officer and a training assignment at Fort Lewis, Washington, was exactly what my gung-ho 26 year-old lieutenant wanted — plus a chance to become a western cowboy.
Ours was a speedy but joyful romance. When Don wasn’t training for Vietnam, he was helping to craft our future. We decided to make our home in Washington. He proposed six kids, but I put the stink-eye on him until he agreed to three. At my urging, he took out a learner’s permit on one of my rowdiest horses. A head-tosser who whacked Don’s nose or jaw every time he mounted until he learned to duck and whack back. My cowboy stuck to it and I’m proud to say he became a respectable horseman during his six months at Fort Lewis, and actually for the rest of his life.
In November 1969 Don left for Vietnam. We had decided to marry as soon as he returned. Our plan was to buy a farm and raise horses. Don’s career goals focused on obtaining his CPA license, joining a large financial firm, and working his way to partnership. I wanted to teach art and paint. We dreamed about spending our free time raising our family, hunting, biking, alpine skiing, water skiing and riding/packing our horses in the mountains.
Don played such a huge role in making all these dreams a reality for our family. Since our marriage in January 1970, I have had the privilege and pleasure to be his life partner as well as the mother of our three daughters: Shawna (Drew) Wachter and grandchildren Tieg and Skogen of Edwards, Colorado; Becky (Todd) Scarpella and grandchildren Trinity, Jadon, Gabriel, Silas and Marcus of Ft. Collins, Colorado; Donni Reddington (Corbin Massey) of Mazama, Washington.
Don was born Oct. 3, 1943, in Rochester, New York. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014, although it probably started years earlier. In the beginning, the disease progressed slowly, but since June of this year it seemed to have spiraled out of control. Jamie’s Place in Winthrop kept Don as a resident (along with three of his eight chickens) until his agitation and confusion became so unpredictable that the Veterans Administration Crisis Line advised us to take him to the closest hospital emergency room for assessment and admission. Hospital staff at Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee worked diligently for over five weeks to moderate Don’s medications to meet behavior criteria so he could be moved to a VA dementia facility. Unfortunately, his health status declined too rapidly to move him out of Central Washington or to even bring him home on hospice.
Don gently passed away at Central Washington Hospital with his family at his bedside. He will be missed greatly by his brothers Dick Reddington of Penfield, New York; David (Swanda) Reddington of Pittsford, New York; sister Judy (Bill) Leach of Rockport, Massachusetts; sister-in-law Victoria Walker of Twisp; brother-in-law John Walker; along with his cousins Susan (Murray) Berenson; Terry (Julie) Sullivan; Ann Sullivan; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Don was preceded in death by his parents, Dick and Marie Reddington.
We express our sincere appreciation to the staff at Jamie’s Place, Central Washington Hospital, the VA Clinic/Wenatchee, and the VA Medical Center Spokane for their gentle and compassionate care of Don.
A celebration of Don’s life will be held March 23, 2019, at the Twisp Valley Grange in his beloved Methow Valley. Memorial donations may be made to The Cove, Room One or Jamie’s Place.