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Donald Edwin Hedman died peacefully at home in Arizona on the 2022 Vernal Equinox, with his daughter at his bedside. During his almost 97 years on this Earth he was a loving son, brother, husband, and father -- and a steadfast friend to many. He was a kind, generous, and modest man with a gentle sense of humor who loved the outdoors.
Don was born May 6, 1925 to Ed and Mae (Garlock) Hedman in Prentice, Wisconsin – where the Hedman family homesteaded when they emigrated from Sweden in 1893.
During the 1930s, Don’s family moved to Necedah, Wisconsin, where he worked at the grocery store operated by his parents.
Don’s high school education was interrupted by World War II. He enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to a PT Boat squadron in the Solomon Islands. During his last months in the Navy, Don also served aboard the USS Wisconsin on a deployment to Cuba.
After the war, Don returned to Necedah to finish high school. On February 19, 1950, he married his high school sweetheart, Lois Irene Roberts.
During the 1950s, Don was a conductor on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad and always cherished the day he was working on the “Twin Cities 400” when Hank Aaron travelled from the Milwaukee Braves farm team in Eau Claire to Milwaukee County Stadium.
Don and Lois moved to Port Edwards, Wisconsin in 1962, where Don worked at the paper mill and was an active member of the Papermakers Union. Throughout his life, he was a strong union supporter and proud Democrat – and he held the bible when his daughter was sworn in by EPA Administrator Jackson during the Obama Administration.
Don organized many family camping, canoeing, fishing, and cross-country ski trips around Wisconsin. And every year, Don planned major family excursions to National Parks and historic sites in the U.S. and Canada.
Don was especially interested in visiting American Revolutionary War and Civil War battlefields, in part because his maternal ancestors fought in both the Continental Army and the Union Army. He pursued his passion for American history by taking classes at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he also studied poetry – which he enjoyed reading aloud to his daughter. They often visited the poetry section on their weekly visits to the public library in Wisconsin Rapids.
For years, Don was an avid partridge hunter. However, he stopped hunting after reading Aldo Leopold’s essay in A Sand County Almanac, about the “fierce green fire” dying in the old wolf’s eyes. He also put down his pipe and cigars after reading a Reader’s Digest article about the dangers of smoking.
Don was a lifelong Green Bay Packer fan and took his daughter to meet many of the stars who played on the 1967 and 1968 Superbowl Championship teams. He also took her to a Milwaukee Bucks game so she could meet the great Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Don was a gifted photographer, a serious BBQ grill master, and he loved working in his woodshop -- where he built picnic tables, rocking chairs, cabinets, bookcases, and even a mountain dulcimer for his daughter. He also kept the flower gardens blooming at the family home in Wisconsin, from the first tulips each spring until the last chrysanthemums in the fall.
Don and Lois were very active in church and in Masonic organizations. Don served as Master of Wisconsin Rapids Masonic Lodge No. 128. He also sang in choirs at the United Methodist Church in Port Edwards, Wisconsin and at the Willowbrook United Methodist Church in Sun City, Arizona
Music was important to Don. He organized annual trips for his wife and daughter to see operas, Broadway musicals, and symphonies. They loved the music – but also loved laughing about the time they almost missed a Metropolitan Opera performance of Madam Butterfly, because they forgot their tickets. They also loved listening to Don sing in a Barbershop Chorus over the years.
In the mid-1980s, Don and Lois retired to Sun City, Arizona. They travelled throughout the western US and Mexico -- and spent many days on the golf course with new and old friends.
When Lois was afflicted by Lewy-body disease, Don cared for her at home until her death – on their 49th wedding anniversary.
After Lois died, Don visited his daughter in France and his family in Sweden. He especially enjoyed his time in Luleå at Midsummer. Don also spent time golfing with his many friends in Arizona and Wisconsin and volunteered at the Phoenix Open and at Sun Health-Banner Hospital, as well as for his condo associations and various charitable causes.
Don is survived by his devoted daughter Susan of Bayfield, Wisconsin and many loving in-laws, nieces, and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, and his younger brothers Robert and Alan.
Should you wish to make a donation in Don’s memory, please consider giving to the Willowbrook United Methodist Church in Sun City or to your local Public Radio or Public Television Station.