March 28, 1925 — Nov. 10, 2021
Thursday, December 2, 2021
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Don was born at the Camack place across the Stillwater River from the Swinging Bridge south of Columbus on March 28, 1925. He was the third of seven children of parents, Mack and Violet Mason. After growing up, mostly in Stillwater County, Don graduated from Absarokee High School in 1943.

In his book, Don said “there was not much need for me during the winter at my dad’s place so I volunteered for the Army.”

He enlisted and served with Company G, 398th Infantry, 100th Division, during the Rhineland Campaign. On Dec. 21, 1944, at the onset of the Battle of the Bulge, Don was wounded with shrapnel from a mortar which killed the soldier who shared his foxhole.

He returned to the battlefield, but later again spent 60 days in the hospital with acute hepatitis. His last sick day was “V” day. His duty then was a journalist and was chosen to cover the War Crimes Trials in Nuremberg, but accepted the opportunity to return home for discharge. He received a Purple Heart in recognition of his wounds during his service.

Don married the mother of his three sons, Jerry Hansen in September 1949. He worked as a reporter for the Columbus News and other jobs, and went to college at EMC for one year.

He then completed his architectural degree at the University of Idaho in 1952. He worked in the Billings area designing many structures including St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Kon’s Super Market, the Squire Lounge, and Tom Towe’s office building.

He was raised to a 3rd Degree as a Master Mason in the Pryor Mountain Lodge No. 151, in 1966. Architecture eventually waned for Don and he accepted a teaching position for the Northern Cheyenne Reservation at Lame Deer.

Soon, thereafter he moved to Arizona, in 1979, to work for Digital, where he thrived, enjoying his work and playing golf.

Upon retirement, Don returned to Columbus where he lived with his sister, Helen. During that time he became acquainted with Vi Ekle who was his close friend and dancing partner for many years. They traveled many places for dancing, enjoying many friends, and lots of good food.

Since Don was a person who loved to spend time with people, he enjoyed visiting, telling stories about his memories of family and friends, and things he had invented or accomplished. He loved history, playing cards, and was great at crossword puzzles and Wheel of Fortune.

In 2015, it became necessary for Don to move into Meadowlark Assisted Living and he lived there until he passed on Nov. 10, 2021. In those six years he literally became family and the girls took wonderful care of him.

Mandy was especially heartfelt at his passing, along with Heidi, his great Hospice nurse. Riverstone Hospice deserves special attention, including Chaplin Teri Steinbrink, Kevin “Kingfish” McGovern, and Pete Timm, the volunteer who honored Don with a “pinning” that recognized him for his military service.

Madonna and Becky from the Billings’ office of the VA Montana Health Care were by his side whenever needed. The Columbus Congregational Church is also to be acknowledged for their enduring communication, compassion, and love for Don along with his friends and family.

Don is survived by his two sons Mark (Viki), Tom (Rose); two sisters, Doris Chinery and Elsie (Jon) Liechty; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents: sisters Marian, Helen, Maxine, Bonnie and their husbands, brothers-in-laws, Charles (Bill) Chinery and Kenneth Wurgler; oldest neice, Shirley Fennimore; nephews Dennis Brunckhorst and Greg Chinery and his oldest son, Colin.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Columbus Congregational Church, P.O. Box 545, Columbus, MT 59019, the Columbus Senior Center, P.O. Box 655, Columbus, MT 59019, or a charity of your choice.

Internment was conducted at the National Veterans Cemetery on Nov. 19, 2021, his ashes and Masonic Apron are in Columbarium 5, Row D, Niche 44.

A Celebration of Life will be held at the Columbus Congregational Church at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Don, we miss you, but look forward to seeing you again in our final home.