Don Charleson

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Don Charleson

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Don Charleson
Don Charleson

Don Charleson loved to laugh. His dry sense of humor and quick wit made for many delightful family memories around the dinner table.
Don loved his family and cherished his wife, Yvonne, with whom he enjoyed nearly 60 years of marriage. His five children, Cindy, Kathi, Don, Dave, and Brad were deeply loved and sources of great pride and joy to Don.
Don was born to Kathryn Grey Hovey and Donald Alexander Charleson in Seattle, WA on April 6, 1932. As the oldest child, he worked hard to help support his family by working in the family hotel and restaurant. His family included siblings Sally Kathryn Charleson (who resides in Tacoma) and Lonnie Frank Charleson (of Southern California).
Don was a stellar student at Tacoma, WA’s Bellarmine Prepatory Catholic High School, class of 1950. He enjoyed playing his saxophone in the school’s dance band and would later be the leader of a “big band” during college.
Don enlisted in the Air Force ROTC at Bellarmine as well as during college. While at the College of Puget Sound in Tacoma, which today is University of Puget Sound, Don was bestowed with the prestigious title of Cadet of the Year in 1953. Throughout Don’s life his patriotism and love of country was unwavering.
Because of his ROTC successes, high grades as an economics major, being president of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, leader of a jazz band, and working at the super popular “Charleson’s” family restaurant which was just off-campus, Don was recognized in the 1953 edition of the prestigious Who’s Who in The American Colleges and Universities publication. Most importantly however, Don met Reta Yvonne Long of Champion, Alberta, at college.
Don swept Yvonne off her feet and they were married on December 17, 1953. After graduation in the spring, Don and Yvonne left Tacoma for Don’s US Air Force assignment in Marianna, FL and they were blessed with the birth of their first child, Cynthia Lynn. While stationed in Bossier City, LA, Kathryn Lea was born, and a year later Donald Alexander III joined the busy Charleson household.
Don was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain and he worked in the Air Force intelligence service during the Korean War. Don resigned his commission in 1957 and the family returned to the Seattle-Tacoma area where he became an insurance claims manager. Meanwhile Don and Yvonne welcomed John David and Bradley James.
In 1968 Don moved to Billings, MT to start a Shakey’s Pizza restaurant and the family joined him the following year. After several years in the pizza business, Don left Shakey’s and purchased the Scoop and Haufbrau pubs, home cooking and libations. Don made many friends there, many of which endured for decades.
In 1974 Don sold his businesses and began his final career as a commercial real estate broker. Integrity and commitment to the client were the hallmarks of each and every sale of Don’s. Clients often became friends because of the trust and confidence they had in him.
Don was an avid hunter and fisherman. Some of his long time hunting partners include Gordon Bolte and Guy Davidson of Billings, and college friend, Bill Barber. Don always had a trusty Labrador Retriever by his side like his beloved Jake.
Don is survived by his loving wife, Yvonne; his siblings Sally Johnson and husband Gary, of Tacoma, WA; Lonnie Charleson of Orange County, CA married to Billings native, Kerry Albin Charleson; children Cindy (married to Rick Donaldson, living in Germany); Kathi (married to Greg Johnson, living in Anchorage, AK); Don (married to Billings native, Barbara Mills, living in Temecula, CA); Dave (married to Cindy Paterson, living in Mill Creek, WA); Brad (married to Jan Runyan of Livingston, living in Sammamish, WA).
Don is also survived by eleven prized grandchildren: Sean, Brock, John, Scott, Nicole, Kira, Brittany, Mary, Ryan, Lauren, and Kelly.
The celebration of Don’s life will be at Michelotti Sawyer on Monday at 2:00. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to RiverstoneHealth.org for hospice services.

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  1. Cindy and Lonnie – I am so sorry to learn of your father’s/brother’s passing. Be assured of my prayers for you and your families. God Bless.

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