Donald Morris Redmond "The Senator" 91, of DeKalb, IL formerly of Sycamore, IL & Stone Lake, WI passed away Monday July 9, 2012 at Oak Crest Retirement Genter DeKalb, IL after living there for over five years due to his diabetes and inability to control his medications. After a fall in March 2012, his health rapidly started to decline.
Born February 24, 1921 in Bozeman, MT he was the only child of Samuel E. Redmond and Estelle Z. Coyne. Don was born a "Blue Baby" and was determined to survive. The family migrated back to Cokato, MN when he was two and he grew up there. Growing up he hung out in his dad's Barbershop shining shoes for a penny. He had the only newspaper route in town and won his 1 st bicycle in a contest sponsored by the local bread company because everyone saved their bread wrappers for him. He also nailed pre-cut egg crates together for 1 1/2 cents per crate for the local produce company. In 1938, while still in high school he attended the Citizens Military Camp at Fort Snelling.
Don graduated from Cokato MN High School in 1939 where he lettered in Basketball, Football and Baseball. He was the starting pitcher for the baseball team, was center on the basketball team and played end in football. On January 18, 1940 he and eight other local young men earned the Eagle Scout Award. This was the 1 st time in MN history that nine from the same town had ever received this award all together. Don was also a member of the Order of the Arrow.
He continued his education in the Aeronautical field at Curtiss Wright Technical Institute in Glendale, CA. He lived with his cousin Alma and her husband, Stanley Horsley who was a cameraman for Universal Studios taking air to air flight pictures. Stan arranged for a scholarship for Don and the'remainder of his tuition he worked off by delivering mail to Howard Hughes's airplane hangar for 50 cents an hour.
Upon graduation in 1942 he attained his Civil Aeronautical Airplane and Engine license. The day he graduated he was drafted into the army and was allowed to go back to Fort Snelling army base in MN for his induction. He then was sent to Lowry Field in Denver CO for pilot training and his primary training was at Thunderbird Field in AZ. He completed his U.S. Air Corp Cadet Pilot training at Luke Field in AZ as a single engine fighter pilot. He received his wings and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. Instructor. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and was discharged in October 1945 as a 1 st Lt.
In November 1945, he started working at Howato Telephone Co. trimming brush all winter long in the right of ways for 50 cents an hour. Pioneer Telephone purchased the Co. and he then worked as a lineman/combination man in Waconia, MN. In 1950, he became the Manager of the Company's Five Exchanges near the Minneapolis area.
At age 30, Don married Rosemary Becker on October 7, 1950 in St. Paul MN. In 1954, he and Rosemary left their families in MN and moved to Oregon, IL as Don had resigned from Pioneer Telephone Co. and had a job waiting for him at DeKalb-Ogle Telephone Co. as their Plant Manager. He was responsible for the operations of plant, traffic and commercial activities. His office moved to Sycamore in 1959 and Don, Rosemary and Julie relocated. From 1959-1965 he was the General Plant Manager. In 1965, he was promoted to the Vice President-State Plant Manager and was responsible for all plant operations in Illinois. He held this position until the company's acquisition by Continental Telephone Co. In 1970, he became Director of Inter-Company and Regulatory Affairs dealing with the IL Commerce Commission and other local governing agencies. In 1974, he accepted a promotion to Vice President of Business Relations with Contel. This job changed again and he was made Division Public Affairs Manager for the East-Central IL Division. Don received the 1978 Continental Telephone Citizenship Award for outstanding community service. A merger with GTE happened and Don served his last six years as Vice President of Administration and Regulatory Affairs retiring in 1983 with 38 years in the telephone business. Throughout his career he made true lifelong friends.
Don was always proud to tell the story of how he and Rosemary adopted their two children from Catholic Charities. They patiently waited seven years into their marriage to become parents. He was a generous husband, father and grandfather.
Rosemary died on November 9, 1980 at age 56 from Ovarian Cancer. They had been married for 30 years. Don then decided he would purchase a lake home at Stone Lake in Northern Wisconsin that he could enjoy in his retirement years.
He remarried Joan M. Scott of Sycamore on April 20, 1985 in Las Vegas, NY. They lived at his lake home in Stone Lake, WI and wintered in FL then AZ. They mutually agreed to divorce in September 2002 after almost 18 years of marriage. She later died on January 1,2005 of lung cancer.
During his career and while raising a family, Don was heavily involved in the SycamorelDeKalb Community. He served as President of the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce in 1966-67, sat on the Board of Directors of Rotary Club, was a member of the NIU Husky Club, NIU Businessmen Club, Chairman of the Sycamore Elks Club House Committee along with various IL Telephone Association Committees including Chairman of Plant, Convention and Legislative Committees. He was appointed to the Sycamore Mayor's Study Committee in 1978. He was proud to be a Sycamore Spartan Booster Club Member, was President of the Sycamore Community Chest (United Way) Fund Campaign for many years and was involved with local sports and civic activities which allowed him to give back to the community.
He was a member and very active at St. Mary's Church in Sycamore prior to his retirement and moving to his lake home. At Oak Crest, he was on the Board of Directors for the Health Center Resident Council and tried to help those who needed it. He was a current member of the Telecom Pioneer Retirees, Sycamore Elks Club #1392 and Sycamore American Legion Post #0099.
He loved to cook and his huge rounds of beef and pig were requested at most functions for over 50 years. He was well known for his delicious barbeque ribs and entertained his neighbors on weekends. He enjoyed fishing and especially his yearly fishing trips with his buddies, golf, hunting, jazz music, sports of all kinds, playing cards and being around people. He was a loyal Minnesota Twins and Vikings Fan., He w~uld tell you "I have been successful in my life because my business was about people, I have been lucky". "I have great friends that have made my life wonderful".
He headed to IL for Christmas in December 2006 with a "purple toe" and has remained here ever since. He went to live permanently in the Health Center at Oak Crest in April 2007 at his children's request, and has never complained.
He's survived by his children, Juliane (Randy) Rhodes of Sycamore, IL and Michael (Amy) Redmond of Woodbury, MN. His two grandchildren, Renea Rhodes (Alan Jacobs) of Sycamore, IL and Tyler Rhodes of Tokyo, Japan. And Great-Granddaughter Bella Rose Jacobs age 3 of Sycamore, IL. She always brought a smile to his face. She made him laugh and he always talked and asked about her. She loved to show him her toys. Many nieces and nephews on Rosemary's side of the family have said "Don sure made life fun for us while we were growing up". That seems to be the sentiment from all of his friends too. He lived life to the fullest. He was blessed with so many friends who made his life complete.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his wife Rosemary in 1980.
Visitation will be held Friday July 13 from 4:00-8:00 PM at the Butala Funeral Home and Crematory, 1405 DeKalb Ave.. Sycamore, with a wake service being recited at 7:30 PM.
A Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 AM on Saturday July 14th at The Church of St. Mary, 244 Waterman, Sycamore, IL, with the Fr. Frank J. Timar, M.S.C. officiating. Burial with Military Honors will be at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Sycamore, IL A luncheon will follow at St. Mary's Parish Center, Sycamore, and everyone is invited to celebrate Don's life.
A Memorial has been established and it will be combined with the Rosemary Redmond Sycamore High School Scholarship Fund that's been in place for 31years. For info or to sign the online guest book, go to www.ButalaFuneralHomes or call 815-895-2833.