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July 1, 1948 – June 26, 2017
After waging a fierce 3 year battle against cancer with determination, grace and the steadfast support of family members at his beside, Donald John Whittaker passed away at home in San Francisco a few days shy of his 69th birthday. The eldest of five siblings, he was the only one born in George Edward Whittaker and Ann Marie Whittakers' (nee Igoe) hometown, Scranton, PA. The family relocated to San Francisco in 1951. Don relished being the spoiled only child for 5 years before sister Mary arrived! After a brief stint at St. Joseph Seminary, Don graduated from Saint Ignatius High School in 1966 and from the University of San Francisco in 1970 with a BA in Political Science. While at USF, Don played on the competitive soccer team as a defender. He proudly served in the Army, mostly in the reserves at the Presidio of San Francisco, for over thirty years. And Don managed to complete marathons in San Francisco and Napa Valley during this time. Rigorous workouts at the Olympic Club for 33 years certainly paid off in the long run! Now the rich details of a complex life.
Don met his future wife, Madeline (nee Colichidas), at a college party across the street from USF in 1967. While finishing their studies at USF, they both worked at Macy's Union Square. Stepping off a plane from Army duty in 1969, Don grabbed an application to work for Pacific Southwest Airlines. He was soon hired, holding a variety of upper management positions in Operations and Maintenance and Engineering throughout a 16-year career.
Wed in 1971, Don and Madeline raised two wonderful sons, Dean and Peter who enjoyed trips to Kauai, Mexico and Ireland with their adventurous family. He eventually moved on to employment with the City and County of San Francisco at the airport. Don put his time in rising to the level of Assistant Deputy Director of Airfield Operations. He proudly served as President of the Rotary Club of San Francisco International Airport, 2009 -2010 where he spearheaded efforts to raise funds for PalCare. Another activity he enjoyed very much was being one of the San Francisco Fleet Week Planning Group Directors in 2010. During his retirement in Sonoma Don also volunteered as a Mission San Francisco Solano Docent and Board Officer.
Madeline recalls their adventure travel trips around the world as some of the special memories they shared in their later years. But the best adventure of all was helping to raise Norah.
Don is survived by his wife Madeline, son Dean, daughter in law Kathlene, granddaughter Norah, sisters Mary and Ann, brothers Edward and John, brother in law Peter Colichidas, and numerous nieces and nephews. He endured the loss of his son Peter, in 1998. People from all walks of life will remember Don as a generous, warm, creative and hardworking man who mentored many individuals during his rich life.
The family would like to thank the nurses and doctors at CPMC and UCSF for helping him fight cancer. We also thank the nurses from Hospice by the Bay who helped Don try to stay comfortable in his final days. Madeline and his brothers and sisters ensured Don was taken care of and never alone during his battle, especially near the end.
Friends may visit Friday, July 14th, 2017, after 5pm and are invited to attend Donald's Life Celebration service at 6pm at DUGGAN'S SERRA MORTUARY, 500 Westlake Ave, Daly City.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from July 9 to July 11, 2017