Donel James Fletcher left this world on March 7, 2017, at the young age of 85 years. He died following a short illness surrounded by family and friends.
Don was born on April 20, 1931, in Muskegon, Mich. The son of William and Alice, he had two older brothers and a younger sister. The family had little money, but they all worked together to get by during the depression and through WWII. He graduated from Muskegon Heights High School in 1949. Following high school, Don worked as an assistant manager at a retail store until being drafted to serve in the Korean war. He went to training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and was with the 10th Battalion in Korea and served on active duty until 1953, and in the reserves until 1959.
In 1956, Don married the love of his life, Elizabeth (Betty) Rae Albert, whom he always called “Lady.” They met while both were working at the Fisher auto body factory in Michigan. He and Betty were married for almost 42 years, until she passed away in 1998. Their daughter, Rebecca, was born in 1963. In 1966 the family relocated to The Dalles, Ore.
Don had passed through the area while on a troop transport train on the way to shipping out for Korea and had decided he would live there someday. He loved the Columbia Gorge and enjoyed fishing, hunting and camping in the Oregon outdoors with his family.
Don was a faithful husband, a patient father and a friend and teacher to his grandchildren. He was reliable and his word could be counted on. He was self-made and self-reliant but would help anyone who needed it. He was an old school handyman who always had the right tool to fix just about anything.
He worked for many years at the aluminum plant in The Dalles. After retirement, he had odd jobs at a local motel, a retail store and spent many summers working for Cooper Orchards, which he always enjoyed. He liked getting out and talking to people and never really completely, “retired.” He enjoyed reading, gardening, woodworking, or puttering in his garage when he wasn’t working. He loved going to the woods and fishing, or picking berries with his grandkids. He especially liked making them roll their eyes at his corny humor. He was very active, and was often mistaken for being much younger than his actual years, which always made him chuckle.
Don spent many years travelling to Sundance Meadows ranch in Bend, Ore., first with Betty and then on his own. He spent countless hours volunteering there over the years and leaves behind many special friends made there.
Donel is survived by his daughter Rebecca Fletcher Graham and her significant other, Kelly McCargar, as well as his two grandchildren, Hayley Rae Graham and Steven James Graham, and his “extra daughter,” Debra Cable, all of The Dalles. He is also survived by his sister Elaine Stauter, and his sister-in-law Mary Fletcher, both of Mich; also many nieces and nephews in Mich. Don was preceded in death by his wife Betty, and his brothers Glendon Fletcher and Alan Fletcher, and brother-in-law David Stauter, all of Mich.
A memorial service was held in Bend, Ore., on Saturday June 24, 2017.
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