Donald Burton Falk
August 10, 1928 – September 13, 2020
Weighing in at a robust 7 pounds, 10 and ½ ounces at 2:24 in the afternoon on August 10, 1928, his mother said he was a quiet baby. That may have been the last time anyone ever said that about Donald Burton Falk. From then on he was a handful. He may have been the only kid ever kicked out of vacation Bible school for punching the teacher. He was lucky to not have been sent home when the fire extinguisher “accidentally” fell off the wall and sprayed the school principal. When he went overseas to Japan he decided to “guard” the upper deck hatch so he could get fresh air. What the heck, he looked and sounded official!
Don met the love of his life Jean in high school. They married and were devoted to each other until her death in 2008. They raised three children, Bruce, Cindy, and Carolyn who survive him. He lost his mother Gladys Walmsley Falk in 1954 and his father, Carl Lewis Falk, in 1970. He always looked up to his older brother Carl Willard Falk who was responsible for getting him into the Army Air Force at Chanute Field in Illinois. Later, they would take a trip across the country, working their way to earn money for college at the University of Illinois in Champagne-Urbana. His older sister Margaret (Peg) Falk Jack put up with both of them, even though her tastes were more … refined, and her brothers were … less so. Peg did try to provide some “couth” to her brothers. She played the piano quite well and Don often mentioned he missed falling asleep to his sister practicing. Although he never learned to play an instrument himself, he loved classical music, particularly Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Visitors to his home would often hear Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, or Mozart played at concert volume, whether they wanted to or not. He had various levels of success in passing the “couth” gene on to his children. Both Don’s brother and sister preceded him in death in 1992 and 2000, respectively.
Don was a ruthless Monopoly player, he loved working in his yard and was immensely proud of his home improvements. He had a lifelong interest in the theater, starting with his lead role as George Antrobus in the Decatur High School production of Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth”. Many years later he acted in and was part of the stage crew for numerous presentations at the Lynchburg (Virginia) Fine Arts Center. He was a man of service. He was a leader on the Board of Governors for his fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi. He was a little league baseball coach who cared about his young team members and went above and beyond in making sure every kid had a chance to play. His abilities as a baseball coach may be argued, but his caring and concern could not be. He loved travel and work. He loved his dogs, Butch and Alex. Most of all he loved his family. He built a legacy of 58 years of marriage, 3 children, 6 grandchildren (Jonathan Rice, David Rice, Jennifer Rice Proctor, Matt Falk, Trevor Falk, and Rachel Braz Chapman) and 6 great-grandchildren with another to be welcomed in early November. Of course, he also drove his family crazy with endless photography and videography. Those memories are now priceless.
Don never met a bad joke he did not like or a stranger he did not treat as his best friend. You needed to be careful if you met him in the home improvement store. He would say hello and then tell you his life story and whole family history. He was not a quiet adult. In the last two video calls with his family, after the ravages of dementia had taken most of his memories, he still was able to wave goodbye. A mere 4 hours before his death, his daughter Cindy told a typically bad joke and we all swear we saw a smile on his face. He left us on September 13, 2020 at 8 PM, weighing significantly more than 7 pounds, 10 and ½ ounces.
Rest well Don Falk. You are a good man, with a good story. You leave behind a family that loves and cherishes your memory. You have shown us all what a successful life looks like. What more could any of us ask for? Say hello to Granny, we know she is glad to have you back.
A graveside service to celebrate his life will be at 3:30 PM, Saturday, October 10 at Westminster Gardens Cemetery in Greensboro, NC. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105. Hanes-Lineberry N. Elm Chapel is assisting the Falk Family.