Donald Haglund De Grasse

September 24, 1963June 6, 2019

Donald Haglund De Grasse passed away on Thursday, June 6, 2019, after a 10-month battle with inoperable brain cancer. His generous heart, sharp mind and silly sense of humor will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Don was born September 24, 1963 in Palo Alto, California and was truly a child of Silicon Valley. Long before most people even knew what a personal computer was, he was using a makeshift word processor his father created to write his school papers, and teaching himself how the machine worked.

As a child, Don loved sports, hiking and being the center of attention in his large and loving family. His mother and older siblings remember that he was always in motion, often dancing and singing the lyrics of a favorite TV commercial. As a teenager, he developed a deep interest in art and sculpture.

Don started working at an early age, holding down two part-time jobs during high school and still making time to earn his Eagle Scout, play varsity football and earn good enough grades to gain admission to Stanford. Don also finished working at an early age, retiring from Dell before his 40th birthday and devoting his time to family life, community service and the investigation of emerging technologies.

Don’s career as a mechanical engineer was marked by creativity and accomplishment. He decided to make himself an expert in computer-aided design (CAD) and then used this skill to become a key design team member at Apple. Don was a major contributor on the PowerBook 500 series, the best selling notebooks of their time. He designed the mechanism for the rotating keyboard stand on a number of notebooks.

Don then moved to Austin to join Dell, where he worked closely with the company’s Taiwanese contractors. According to his former manager, Don was the only designer to work on the two best notebooks of their time, the Apple PowerBook and the Dell Latitude.

During his time with Dell, Don met and married Martha, and the couple started a family in 1998. Don’s California friends teased him about raising his family on a street called West Cow Path. This North Austin neighborhood was where Don got to know an eclectic group of fast friends that he worked out with for the rest of his life.

In the summer of 2001 Don decided to leave Dell, and in 2002 his daughter Sarah was born, making his family complete. As a father, Don was playful and involved, and he was able to make many great memories with his children. From photography to superheros to legos, from Harry Potter to hiking to dog agility training, Don dove whole-heartedly into his childrens’ interests. He built his kids a playscape, a zip line, and a canine obstacle course, and he inspired creativity in each of them.

Don was an active community volunteer, serving as president of Trinity Center and the Austin Parks Foundation, and serving as Treasurer during his time on the St. David’s Vestry. He was Cub Scout den leader for his son Andy and was Cubmaster of Austin’s Pack 20. Along with his son Daniel, he became very involved with Boy Scout Troop 3, and helped train the boys in rock climbing.

In retirement, Don rekindled his love of art by taking drawing and painting classes and creating portraits of his loved ones. His specialty was using candid photos as inspirations for his paintings. Don’s artistic abilities and technical expertise came together in his obsession with 3-D printing, and before he got sick he was in the process of 3-D printing life-like figures by using imaging software and multiple single-chip computers to create a panoramic reference photo.

Don’s life was filled with achievements but perhaps the most important one was the example he set during the last year of his life. He knew he was in a fight he couldn’t win but he never stopped trying to make his life as long and as meaningful as it could be. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he felt grateful for his life, his family, and the many friends and relatives who came to Austin to see him. His bravery made it easier for those around him to be brave.

Don was preceded in death by his father Robert DeGrasse. He is survived by his wife Martha, their children Daniel, Andy and Sarah, his mother Marilyn DeGrasse, his brother Robert DeGrasse, Jr. and wife Sarah Killory, his sister Lori Eirich and husband Jeff, and his sister Cheryl DeGrasse and wife Johanna Hall. In addition Don is survived by his brother-in-law Charles Moody and wife Kirsten and his mother-in-law Ann Moody. He is also survived by three aunts: Elaine Haglund, Durella DeGrasse and JoAnn DeGrasse; three nephews: Paul Bobba, Danny Bobba and Ben DeGrasse; three nieces: Emily DeGrasse, Christine Bobba, and Ann Louisa Moody; and seven cousins: Roger Fricke, Pam Fricke Smith, John DeGrasse, Jr., James DeGrasse, Todd DeGrasse, Merch DeGrasse and Kirk DeGrasse,

A funeral service is scheduled for 10:00 am Monday, June 10 at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 301 E. 8th Street in Austin. It will be followed by a reception at Mercury Hall, 615 Cardinal Lane in Austin. (Overflow parking for the reception is available one block south of Cardinal Lane, at 3504 South First Street.)

In lieu of flowers, the family would be very grateful for donations made to one of the following organizations:

Trinity Center Austin Attention Irit Umani 304 E. 7th St. Austin, TX 78701

Barrow Neurological Foundation For Dr. Ekokobe Fonkem Attention Robyn Duda 124 Thomas Rd. Suite 250 Phoenix, AZ 85013


  • Funeral Service Monday, June 10, 2019


Donald Haglund De Grasse

have a memory or condolence to add?

Frederick Dure

June 18, 2019

Although I didn't know Don well, I could tell he set a high bar for all. From Scouts to school, as I knew him, his strong moral character and concern for his family and others shown strong. We will miss the opportunity to have known him better. Our condolences to the De Grasse Family.

Fred deSousa

June 13, 2019

To the De Grasse families,
Deepest condolences from your friends at Bechtel. May Don's memory comfort you during this difficult time.

Brad Curtis

June 9, 2019

I met Don while playing for Los Altos’ famous Red Barn Yankees, “back in the day”. We were 8 or so, but I think he was 180 and shaving at the time.

We really became friends in 7th grade, when he and I would ride our bikes everywhere! There was no stopping Don, I just followed Best I could and our Mother’s never had any idea if we were down in Palo Alto, or in Campbell, or over the hill heading to Pescadero.

For some reason Mint Chip Ice cream sandwiches stick out from when we were sitting around at his house... strange :)

Don was demented in so many wonderful ways. I will miss him.


Cindy Albach

June 8, 2019

Don, we will all miss you. Thank you for being wonderful you. You were so supportive of all of the kids that grew up with yours. From the soccer games to all the school events, you were always present. May God bless your family and keep them strong. You will be missed.

Mike Ward

June 8, 2019

Words cannot express the extreme sense of loss the Ward Family feels at Don's passing. Our lives are blessed for having had him as a close and trusted friend — at the Fourth of July parades where the flag-waving ride in the red Chrysler Imperial was always great fun, in the basketball games and WAYA activities with Spencer and Daniel, in the Cub Scout outings and campouts and the Boy Scout high-adventure trips to the Current River, Buffalo Trails Scout Ranch and Big Bend in all seasons of the year. We watched our children grow up together, coached and encouraged our sons to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, shared the good times and hard times, always encouraged and supported by Don's incredible and ever-present sense of humor and aplomb. He was like a second brother to me, and I was honored to have had him in my life. He was the essence of a true friend. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family. They should know the positive and lasting impact Don had on the lives of the people like myself who were blessed by knowing him.

Sara Marler

June 8, 2019

Martha and family - thinking of y'all. Why did cancer have to come into your family? Don was a sincere and kind (and sincerely kind) man. I remember our talks about Austin parks, the growth in Austin, and how to keep our community healthy and sustainable. Austin and Austinites are better off because of Don's life. Love, Sara Marler and family