He was the eldest child of Donald Omer Nead and Nettie Mae Tipton, sharing his upbringing with siblings Marilyn Caldwell and Michael Nead. A standout at Covington High School, Donald was deeply involved in various activities, editor of the yearbook, student class president, choir, drama club, and Scholarship Team, where he ranked among the top 1% of the state.
At 17, Donald embarked on a journey with the United States Navy, graduating from the Naval School of Electronics at Treasure Island and serving as Electronics Technician Second Class USN aboard the Douglas H Fox where he earned a Good Conduct Medal. After his service in the Navy, he relocated to Florida, initially applying his expertise at Patrick Air Force Base. He later transitioned to a supervisory role at the Kennedy Space Center, coinciding with the Apollo XI mission, the historic first lunar landing. Throughout his 25-year tenure at the Space Center, Donald amassed a treasury of stories, encompassing the early days of the space program. These tales ranged from lighthearted anecdotes involving astronauts and colleagues to the lesser-known intricacies of national tragedies. In 1994, he retired, leveraging his expertise in the printing industry to acquire Village Printing in Cocoa Village, managing it until his final retirement in 2007. Donald's presence in the business community fostered an environment where customers sought not just services but often stopping by the shop just to chat. He remained in Brevard County, Florida until moving to Seattle, Washington in 2022 to be closer to family.
Donald's family life unfolded through two beautiful chapters. With his first spouse, he welcomed Michael Nead (deceased), Michelle Nead-Davis, and Patrick Nead into the world. Michelle, in turn, became a loving mother to his dear grandchildren, Derek Davis and Micah Davis and expanded to include two great-grandchildren.
His family continued to grow when he married Lucille Rhodus Nead, whom he loved with all his heart during their 53 years of marriage. Together they raised a daughter, Sandra Nead Stewart. This extension welcomed a beloved son-in-law, Nathan Stewart, into their lives, along with his youngest grandchild, Harper Nead Stewart. Donald absolutely adored his family, which he would often show through sharing their interests, remembering tiny details, giving thoughtful gifts, or providing lots of life advice.
Although an introvert at heart, Donald easily won people over with his genuine kindness, often surprising them with his incredibly witty sense of humor and fascinating stories. He was incredibly curious and had extensive knowledge on nearly every subject, but his real passion was history. He especially loved American history focusing mostly on learning about Native Americans, the Revolutionary War and US Westward expansion. He loved to read and was very adept at solving puzzles - particularly crosswords and sudoku. He loved adventure and would often take road trips where he would enjoy exploring new places and reliving memories in places he had been before, being in nature and the occasional treasure hunting. More than anything he enjoyed being near the water. He loved to sail and could spend hours watching ships leaving the port.
Beneath his reserved exterior lay a compassionate soul, expressing care through deep conversations and thoughtful gestures. His membership in the Freemasons and the Fraternal Order of Eagles reflected his commitment to community and service.
Donald Nead laid down his working tools on November 29, 2023. His passing marks the departure of a man whose quiet demeanor hid the profound impact he had on all fortunate enough to share in his presence. His legacy of warmth, wisdom, and unwavering love will continue to resonate in the hearts of those who had the privilege of knowing him.