October 16, 1927 to December 8, 2014
Lowville—Donald M. (Don) Colton, 87, died peacefully at his home, on Monday, December 8, 2014, under the care of his family and hospice, while held on a bed of prayers by a wide circle of friends.
Don was born October 16, 1927, at the home of his parents, William L. and Charlotte Woodward Colton. He was a 1945 graduate of Port Leyden Central School. A life-long learner, Don took many continuing education courses including farm record keeping and analysis, cabinetry, photography, alternate energy technologies, defensive driving, theology, public speaking, group dynamics, psychology and private pilot ground school and flight training. Many people had their first airplane ride in his plane. And he liked to brag that every one said they wouldn’t hesitate to go again.
On January 4, 1952, Don married Bonnie Myers. Together they raised seven children. At the time of his death, they had forty-one direct descendants plus a large extended family.
A dairy farmer’s son, he worked in that vocation and raised his children there. He also built a thriving maple syrup business, using the farm’s sugarbush and buying from other producers. For several years Lewis County maple syrup supplied the Grace Steamship Line in New York City. At the same time, Don developed a retail customer base in the Adirondacks, a clientele that still buys Lewis County syrup.
Retired from active farming in 1984, Don moved to Lowville. He enjoyed a favorite hobby, turning wood into useful and beautiful furniture. He also repaired furniture and practiced the art of chair caning, teaching others along the way. For thirteen years, Don worked as a relief rural mail carrier out of the Lowville post office retiring from that position in 1999. He was best known in this area for his long service as a defensive driving instructor, at first with AARP’s 55 Alive, then with the National Safety Council Course for all ages. His efforts in that field, from 1986 to 2013, trained more than 10,000 North Country drivers to be more aware and safer on the highway.
Don’s community service was as varied as his work history. For over 25 years he was a leader for the Sugar River Gang 4-H club in Talcottville. He worked as a membership recruiter for Farm Bureau in the early 50s, when there were only four members in Lewis County at the time. He served on the Tug Hill Commission’s Forest Advisory Committee, was a founding member of Tug Hill Resources—Investment For Tomorrow (THRIFT) and a member of New York Forest Owners’ Association (NYFOA) he assisted his wife when they were doing oral history interviews with ‘Old-Timer Tug Hillers.’ Don was a 1992 recipient of NYFOA’s Heiberg Award for service to forestry in New York State, and was named a Tug Hill Sage in 2012 by the Tug Hill Commission. He was a volunteer driver for Office for the Aging, Social Service, the Volunteer Transportation Center and for our local Amish community.
He was an active member of Boonville and Lowville Presbyterian churches for many years, serving in several different capacities. Don continues to serve others by donating his body to the Upstate Medical Center’s anatomical gift program.
Surviving are his wife of 63 years, Bonnie, and their children Cherie and David Binns, Tricia and Steve Kennison, Jean and Jeff Balch, Roger Colton, Ben and Judy Colton, Lin and Scott Sawyer, Neil and Kathy Colton, and a foster daughter Mary Stitt Vienneau.
Also surviving are grandchildren Heather Hopkins and sons Kristoff and Gregory, Becky and Greg Gettell and children Elsie and Elias; Jennifer and Erik Lemberger and daughter Gabby and Brian and Audrey Kennison and son Brian; Kimberly, Benjamin and Peter Balch and Caroline and Lee Suitter and children Tyler, Drew, Ryan, Kamden, Zoe and Cayla; Josh and Kathy Levesque and children Brooke and Chase, Devin and Gina Levesque and son Orion, Rally and Asia Colton; Justin and Danielle Colton and children Katie and Josh, Shawna Colton; Brandy and Nate Duink, Charity and Mark Savage and children Tristan, Savanah and Ariana, Missy and Tim Brockett, Jason Sawyer; Nicole Morgan and sons Ash and Auryn Vangelow, Amanda and Kyle Fitzwater and children Miles, Noah and Mya.
In addition are two sisters-in-law, Nancy Myers and Dottie Knight and three brothers-in-law, Larry Myers and Mary Myers, Al and Yung Stevens and Les Stevens.
Plans for a memorial service are incomplete. For more information, please visit www.isenekerfuneralhome.com