Obituary: Donner, William Erwin Lee
DONNER, William Erwin Lee
Lt. Col. USMC Ret.
Passed away October 17, 2012 in Spokane, WA. He was born in Bovill, Idaho to Lee Donner and Rose (Tanghe) on May 15, 1922. At age four the family moved to Spokane. In 1939 L.C. was co-city champions in football where he was a 1st team all-city guard and won the city’s “extra point” honors (.625). He also headlined amateur boxing matches for O.B.C. winning several bouts.
In 1940 Bill enrolled at E.W.S.C. as a freshman while playing football for W.B. “Red” Reese as a starter at left tackle. He became a team captain and earned 2nd team all-conference honors as a lineman in ‘42. College studies and football were interrupted by service in the U.S.M.C.
Bill married Beverly Byers on June 24, 1942.
As a member of the “Greatest Generation”, Bill did not easily share combat experiences. On February 19, 1945 he landed on Red Beach 2 during the invasion of Iwo Jima, a 1st Lt. Company Maint. Officer with the 27th Reg., 5th Marine Div., 3rd Amphibious Tractor Bn. Bill survived the Iwo Jima battle and was released from active duty on April 16, 1946.
Later that year he returned to E.W.S.C., earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree & joined the Lewis & Clark faculty as a Math teacher. That fall he coached the football team with Lyle Maskell, winning the city championship with L.C.’s first ever undefeated team. He got his Bachelor of Education degree from Whitworth College in 1948. He left L.C. for two years when he returned to active duty with the U.S.M.C. to fight in Korea. He retired from the U.S.M.C. Reserves a Lt. Colonel with over 25 years of service to our country.
After Korea, Bill re-joined the L.C. faculty. Then he received a Master’s in Education from E.W.S.C. in 1956. In 1957 he was appointed Vice-Principal at L.C. In 1965 he was named to succeed A. L. Parker as L.C.’s fourth principal, becoming the first L.C. graduate to occupy the principal’s chair. He held that post until 1970.
Bill and Beverly enjoyed working hard and playing hard. He built a log home at Priest Lake, Idaho, where the family enjoyed 25 summers, as well as a retirement home outside Anacortes, WA. Bill and Beverly enjoyed winters in Spain, Hawaii and the California desert.
Bill was preceded in death by his first wife of 58 years, Beverly (Byers), daughter, Maribeth and his second wife of five years, Achea.
He is survived by his children Bruce (Judy), Curt (Lori), Ross and Melanie; six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The Resident Betterment Fund at The Spokane Veterans Home, 222 E. 5th Ave., Spokane, WA 99202, Phone: 509-344-5770 or to Cancer Patient Care, 1507 E. Sprague Spokane, WA 99202-3112, Phone: 509-456-0446.
THERE WILL BE A PRIVATE FAMILY SERVICE. A CELEBRATION OF HIS LIFE WILL BE ANNOUNCED AT A LATER DATE. Please visit Bill’s tribute and leave a condolence at www.hennesseyfuneralhomes.com. Arrangements have been entrusted to