Where to begin … Dad was born at home to Forrest and Doris Hostetler on July 9, 1930, here in Lebanon, where he grew up with his parents and older sister, Shirley. In high school, Don played basketball and football. He was a center in football, but he felt that he was a much better basketball player. He graduated from Lebanon High School in 1948.
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Don worked various summer jobs growing up, one was logging with his dad using horses during the summer of his 14th year. Evidently, Don got himself into trouble when he got his leg caught in a chain, and that was it for logging, his Dad sent him home and did not allow him to return. The next summer Don worked for the forest service fighting fires and building and maintaining trails in the Fish Lake and Detroit areas.
In 1948, Don joined the Navy, and became a third-class radar radio operator. He served in the Atlantic fleet, originally aboard the USS Macon (CA-132), and later on the USS Myles C. Fox (DD-829). During this time, Don did three different 6-month tours in the Mediterranean, in Turkey, France, and Italy, and as well Switzerland. When asked, he said he liked France the best. He recently told his family that his favorite job while in the Navy was shuttling the ship’s captains around on land, which allowed him to see some of Europe. Don played basketball while in the Navy; although, he said he often played the role of benchwarmer.
On leave in Philadelphia one evening, he and a Navy buddy went to a roller rink. They saw a girl who took a spill on the roller rink floor, and Don’s buddy dared him to go talk to her. Don took the dare, and from that night on their love blossomed. They married on December 1, 1951, and lived in Boston, MA. Don retired from the Navy in 1952.
After the Navy, they moved back to Oregon and stayed with his parents for a while, working odd jobs to get them through. In 1953 he took advantage of the GI Bill to get vocational training in Eugene; the training was for the communications industry. Coming out of school he got a job at Smead’s where he was responsible for setting up sound systems for games and events. It was in Eugene that they started a family, Gary in 1954, Jeff in 1956 and Tim in 1957.
In 1958 Dad took a Job as a lineman with Southern Pacific Railroad. In this job Don was working anywhere there was a need for a lineman. During this time, they lived in a small house(shack) next to the railroad in Tucumcari, NM. This house was close enough to the tracks that it shook every time the trains passed.
In 1958, Don became homesick and found an opportunity to move back to Eugene to work for Teleprompter Cable where he was building and installing the system from ground up. Many of the components for the system were not commercially available, so he worked to build them from scratch as they expanded the system. The cable company became Liberty Cable in 1959.
In 1960 Dot gave birth to their last child, Terri.
Liberty Cable expanded to Corvallis and in 1966 Don moved to manage the Corvallis cable system. In his career with cable TV, Don worked in Eugene, Corvallis, Newport, Lebanon and Sweet Home. Don was very well recognized in the cable industry, winning many prestigious awards over his 34 years of service.
They made their home in Eugene, and then Corvallis, where they enjoyed family, friends, and shared a love of the outdoors. Dad worked hard in his professional life, but always found a way to spend quality time with his family and extended family. Family was important to him. As a young family, summers were filled with tent camping, often at Suttle Lake; climbing and digging in the dunes at Honeymon Park; waterskiing at Green Peter , Foster, and Detroit lake; car trips across the country to see Dot’s family; as well as spending lazy Sunday afternoons visiting and sharing a meal with his parents and his sister, Shirley, and her family.
As their children grew and became more independent, Don and Dot found some new loves to occupy their time … RV’s and dancing.
They enrolled in dance lessons through the local Elks Club, and they had grace and talent on the floor … a real sight to see and treat to watch. They were the stars of the floor at any event where there was dancing. Their differences in height made for unconventional dance partners, but that didn’t hinder them.
They also purchased an RV. Don loved getting in the rig and going just about anywhere. Don and Dot both looked forward to taking trips and spending time in the RV and the outdoors, especially in the mountains. Most of all, he enjoyed it when family and friends could join him on these trips. Dot and Don joined the Elk’s RV club, where they enjoyed the comradery of a shared love and interest.
Don also had a true sense of community and giving back to the community. He was a member of the local Lions Club since 1952. During his membership, he was involved in the eye donation program and collecting used eyeglasses for those in need, receiving the Helen Keller for Humanitarian Services award. He also enjoyed providing PA sound system support for the local community Christmas Parade, and helped to raise money for the shelter in Avery Park in Corvallis. He also did fundraising by spending some really hot days in the Lions “Burger Shack” making hamburgers at the Benton County Fair. Don might tell you how hot and miserable it was due to the heat, but he was never a complainer and always looked forward to participating in that event. He was “Lion of the Year” in 1976 – 1977, and also held the role of President of this club.
Don was always accepting of people, had a heart of gold, a great sense of humor, and patience beyond what most could tolerate. He enjoyed life, nature, people, and most of all his family. His six grandchildren, Eric, Carl, Matthew, Genna, Brooke, and Devon were a source of pride and a grand love, but Dot was always his biggest love. They built a wonderful life of 68 years together.
Don stole many people’s hearts in this life. He will be missed by all who knew him.