Donald Spalding “Don” Balser

Donald Spalding “Don” Balser

Illinois, USA
Death 24 Dec 2006 (aged 83)
Snohomish County, Washington, USA
Burial La Conner, Skagit County, Washington, USA
Plot 199
Memorial ID 74616885 · View Source
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Don Balser

Don was born in 1923 in Illinois State. This was his home state up through high school.

When the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941 and served until 1946 when he received his first honorary discharge. (4 more were to follow, clear until 1961). He maintained reserve status with the Army, ROTC and Air Force for many more years after 1946.

In March of 1949, Don married the woman destined to be the love of his life, Jane Ann Kaelin, who will be his loving wife forever.

Their first son was born in 1951, James Carl Balser and in 2 years they were blessed with a little girl, Marianne Balser. They were given another son, John Charles Balser in 1956. A third son followed by a longer interval, Eric Spalding Balser, born in 1964.

Don went to the University of Idaho to study forestry, where he graduated with the highest honors. He completed a four-year degree in 3 ½ years while living at the school nursery. The college awarded him Summa Cum Laude and he was granted a copper plaque naming him in recognition of this achievement that is displayed in the hall of fame there to this day.

His job and schooling carried him and his family back and forth across the west and Midwest for a few years before settling in Denver, Colorado. They built a home there and stayed for almost two decades. This is where some of his most impressive accomplishments were completed as he worked in the service of the federal government.

His position was Research Biologist and the entire western United States, Mexico and parts of South America were his territory. His accomplishments in this field were unequaled, almost legendary, as is evidenced by the thick sheaf of awards, commendations and honors received through these years.

Among these countless documents are recognitions from many states and several foreign countries. He has received commendations on his meritorious service from offices as high as and including that of the President of the United States.

Whenever he took on a pursuit, be it a light hobby or a major undertaking, he would apply so much intensity and effort that he would always take it to its highest level of accomplishment.

Don was very methodical and analytical, with tireless determination. He was always seeking and then attaining the highest of goals. These tendencies brought him to the peak of accomplishment in all his undertakings.

Don hunted, fished and trapped avidly as a young man, these skills and knowledge are one of the most treasured gifts he gave to his sons plus he found lots of pastimes and diversions, such as raising fancy show pigeons, stamp collecting and gardening.

Along the way he built several homes for his family. He also developed several properties during his life. When younger, he converted a Wisconsin wilderness swamp into a fur and fish farm with ponds, lakes and carefully managed timber.

Don's love of the outdoors and adventures in trapping and hunting in the ‘40's gave him the natural adoption of the name of a Daniel Boone-type character encountered in a Chicago newspaper Sunday run of frontier stories being "Bear Dog Balser", as published and spelled identically with Don's last name. The description fit well then and was carried thenceforth.

After retiring from the Federal government he became even more interested in forestry and refined his attention to orchard trees and their crops. This obsession led him to the first of his Washington state properties. Here he would take a steep tangle of brush and alder and transform it into a park-like paradise of terraced cedar groves and garden areas.

The neighbors of the Camano Island property watched in amazement at how hard he would work, dawn till dusk, 7 days a week to enhance this property for his wife and himself. He and his youngest son turned 3 acres of huge alders into stove wood, split and stacked in a single summer. This Camano Island acreage was his pride and joy for 12 years.

In 1988, a new property caught his eye. A 20-acre piece of farmland in Skagit County. Because of its flatness and it's deep rich soil it was in sharp contrast to the Camano property and was better suited to his goals of furthering the future of nut trees, their propagation and their development. With fervent attention and effort he developed the new land into what it is today. A beautiful green tribute to his brilliant scientific mind, his strong back and hands and his unflagging devotion to his chosen research. This estate includes 5 acres of select nut tree varieties, park-like views and a pond for irrigation and wildlife.

This is where he built the wonderful home he designed with his wife. They decided to spend their years here.

As if building Balser Tree Farm wasn't enough to do, this is the home where he fostered an interest in genealogy and began to trace his family back through the years. In his typical fashion he soon became renowned for the thoroughness and depth of this research and uncovered facts unknown to even the best archivists in the old country.

While waiting for daylight, so he could work outside, Don loved to learn about nutrition and health and followed a regimen of dietary supplements and foods that helped him to diminish or even defeat the many infirmities of old age.

During all his years Don held a love of travel and managed to insert countless trips and vacations into his lifestyle. To list these far flung adventures is mind-boggling. Work carried him to every state west of the Mississippi River and then abroad to every country of the east and Far East, across India and then south through Mexico and South America. There were some trips to Washington D.C. to receive commendations and awards too.

His leisure time wanderings with his wife are equally intriguing with destinations as romantic as France, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, England and Hawaii, and locations as exciting as Egypt, Israel, Guatemala, Mexico, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Alaska. He and Jane employed every means of transport from huge luxury cruise ships to camels. And of course, they would always stop along the way to study each place through the lenses of their keen minds.

In 2002 an event unfolded that was the most profound of Don's life. This was the passing on of his daughter, Marianne. The effects of this reached deeply into Don, teaching him another of life's lessons. His strength in the aftermath of this loss was truly a saving grace to his grieving wife and family.

Because of his nature, Don was healthy and active, keen and excited by life to the very moment of his passing. The toll of his 83 years did not dampen his abilities or outlook. Instead he was happily hard at work among his trees when he suddenly departed this life.

Eagles must soar….

December 24, 2006, 83 years, 6 months, 5 days

Obit information:
BALSER, Donald S; 83; Mount Vernon WA; Skagit V-H; 2006-12-27; vony
BALSER, Donald Spalding; 83; IL>Camano Island WA; Skagit V-H; 2007-1-4; jfco
BALSER, Donald Spalding "Don"; 83; IL>Mount Vernon WA; Skagit V-H; 2007-1-4; vony

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  • Created by: Love never dies
  • Added: 8 Aug 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 74616885
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Donald Spalding “Don” Balser (19 Apr 1923–24 Dec 2006), Find a Grave Memorial no. 74616885, citing Pleasant Ridge Cemetery, La Conner, Skagit County, Washington, USA ; Maintained by Love never dies (contributor 47179119) .