Donald Martin Hjortland
December 22, 1928 – December 23, 2018
Donald Martin Hjortland, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother and uncle was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on December 22, 1928 and died December 23, 2018, in Naples Community Hospital, Naples, Florida. He died of heart complications peacefully surrounded by his family having just celebrated his 90th birthday.
At age four, upon his mother’s death, Donald, his sister and father moved to Beloit, Wisconsin to live with his maternal grandparents where he lived until his father married Alice Miller of Janesville, Wisconsin. They moved to Long Lake, Illinois in 1937 which was his principal residence until his death.
Donald was a lifelong ham radio enthusiast with call numbers W9ZJR. His membership to the American Radio Relay Club allowed him to establish connections with other ham operators all over the world. At the same time he started a radio repair business, working on the huge old tube radios. He was always proud that he became a businessman employing other young men at age 15. At the same age he started flying lessons and earned his pilot’s license at 16 the youngest age permissible.
Donald attended Grant High School in Fox Lake, Illinois. He was captain of the boxing team, a sport he pursued in college.
Upon graduation from Grant High School, he attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, for two years. In the pursuit of his passion for flying, he would often rent a small plane in Northfield to fly home to Long Lake for a visit. In winter he would land on the lake’s frozen surface creating quite a stir. He transferred from St. Olaf to Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, where he was a member of the Beta Sigma Psi Fraternity. His fraternity awarded him the nickname Radar because of all the radio antennae on his car. During his time at Purdue he won the boxing championship and graduated with a degree in Metallurgical Engineering in 1951.
After graduation he went to work for the Potter Company in North Chicago, Illinois, where he developed radio noise filters for military aircraft. He served in the army in El Paso, Texas, teaching the RCAT system the entire time. After the Army he went to work for his father at The Steel Supply Company, a steel warehouse, in the Chicago suburbs. He became president and worked there until the end of his life. Early on he added a machine shop, Caliber Engineering, within The Steel Supply Company with Russell Wertke. In 1966 he started Precision Chrome a hard chrome plating company with Albert “Bud” Busscher in Fox Lake, Illinois. In addition to his career in the Steel Industry, he proudly served on the Board of Directors at MB Financial Bank in Morton Grove for a number of years and was a member of MENSA his adult life.
Throughout his life he was an avid pilot, flying his Piper Aerostar for business as well as pleasure. He eventually learned to fly a helicopter and flew his Robinson 22 to work during which he turned a frustrating hour of driving into a joyful 15 minutes of flying. He was also a member of AOPA.
His other interests were sailing in the Caribbean and on Long Lake where he was a member of the Long Lake Yacht Club. He rode motorcycles and was a member of a motorcycle club named the Streeterville Scramblers of Chicago. He traveled with that group both nationally and internationally. He spoke fluent Spanish and for the last 20 years spent every September in Nerja, Spain.
He is preceded in death by his father Martin Olai Hjortland; his birth mother Cecelia nee Gosline; his beloved step-mother, Alice Leora Miller of Janesville, Wisconsin; his daughter Marcie Hjortland his sisters: Marceil Naidenovich Pleis (Skip), Sondra Hjortland Dose (Richard), and Bonnie Newman Uyttebroeck (George).
He is survived by his spouse Margaret Cronin Hjortland, and his previous wife, Wilma Jeanne Hanlon; his daughter Cheryl Hjortland Preece (Roy, deceased); son Donald (“Skip”) Owen Hjortland (Kristen Laxgang); stepdaughter Cassandra Anne Teschner McKeen (Brian); stepson John Stephen Teschner (Deborah Prespare); his sister Kristi Hjortland Bertolette (Michael); brother Martin Jon Hjortland (Cindy); four grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and many loving nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held on Saturday January 19, 2019, 10:00 am with a service to follow at noon at Ringa Funeral Home, 122 South Milwaukee Avenue, Lake Villa, Illinois 60046. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 25519 West Illinois Route 134, Ingleside, Illinois 60041 and/or The Long Lake Improvement and Sanitation Association, PO Box 176, Ingleside, Illinois 60041.
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
25519 West Illinois Route 134, Ingleside, Illinois 60041
The Long Lake Improvement and Sanitation Association
PO Box 176, Ingleside, Illinois 60041
- Visitation Saturday, January 19, 2019
- Memorial Service Saturday, January 19, 2019
Donald Martin Hjortland
January 2, 2019
Dear Sandy, Cheryl and Skip,
For as long as I can remember, Uncle Don was a kind, generous and loving friend to our family. When I turned 16, he sent me peach roses; the first flowers I ever received. It made me feel so grown up, and so valued. I have never forgotten this special gift, and peach roses have been my favorite all my life. Rest in peace, dear Uncle Don!
Kim & Larry Armour
December 29, 2018
We've been on the lake for 3 years now and Don was one of the first people we met along with Sandy. His stories of growing up on Long Lake and buying his property and ours with his best friend will forever remain with us. His love for passing trains and cocktails on the driveway as well, I so enjoyed all the stories and history of the area!
Rest in peace our dear friend, you will be so missed!
Love Kim, Larry and Family
December 27, 2018
When I married Bill in 1975, Don was such a welcoming and friendly soul. I will always remember his sweet smile and wonderful spirit. He will be missed.
December 27, 2018
As a new guy in the steel business one of my first phones calls was to this place called Steel Supply. We became close and over the next few months I was offered a position on the inside sales team - we called it the "city desk" in those days. I accepted the job and here I am 49 years later.
We were in Schiller Park in those days just starting to build in Rolling Meadows. Don, Jim Hoffman and I would work weekends building racks on the south side of the warehouse. Jim and I would count and hand write tags - no bar codes or computers in those days - and Don would log in material and drive the side loader putting the bundles in the storage bins.
Fast forward a lot of years and Don asked if I'd be interested in coming back inside. I wasn't fond of personnel back then and neither was Don. We both got through that although I think he never cared for personnel issues - that was my call now.
Don especially enjoyed the MSCI trade association meetings and boards he served on as well as being on the board of directors for the MB Financial Bank. He never looked for attention but was grateful to those that were kind to his companies and the workers. Many times he told me it was the people that mattered most and he always took great care of those he employed. In reality, I think that will be way up on the list of his legacy.
There are stories and more stories. Some are probably best just to be smiled about rather than spoken out loud. But, for sure, Don Hjortland will be missed by all of us and the industry he cared so much about.
December 27, 2018
Don was a competitive sailor, a flyer , successful business owner, friend and skier at Wilmot, WI. After receiving the news of his demise. and remembering the good times past, I recalled that I had a few old pictures of early skiing at the Wilmot Ski area. Sure enough there it was, a group shot of Don, Russ Wertke, Helen and Len Lagerstrom about 1948- 49.
Rest in peace, you now have "RIGHT OF WAY"
Irwin and Janet Buchholz
December 25, 2018
Dear Sandy, Cheryl and Skip,
I wanted to share some stories about Don that you probably don't know. Because he was my Dad's childhood friend for the last 75 years, Don was truly a second father to me as a kid growing up. We were either at his house or he was at our house on almost a weekly basis. Don knew I loved anything with an engine. When I was 14 he had just bought a new Buick Riviera. One day at his house he threw me the keys and said "Tim, back it out of the garage." My goodness was I nervous, a one stall garage very tight on both sides and this beautiful car. I backed it out with no damage thank God. He somehow knew I could. When I was just 16, Don came over to the house with his Corvette and again throws me the keys. " I'm trading this in tomorrow so it's yours tonight. Get it back to me tomorrow." Are you kidding me? Talk about a great childhood memory. I never had so much fun. I got the car back to him the next day with no damage. He somehow knew I could. Don sold me one of his motorcycles when I was just 16 at a price a 16 year old could afford. Don attended both my daughters weddings. What fun we had. Eventually I was Don's CPA for his businesses and his personal taxes until I retired. Talk about trust! Thank you Don for all of your help in shaping a young man into a grown man. A life well lived! Tim & Heather.
Bill and ione Winter
December 24, 2018
I remember the trips we made to Ireland and Spain it was also where you found your favorite town
Both you made the time together great Sandy doing planning for Spain Bill for Ireland we all kissed the Blarney Stone though some people didn’t need to they were full of it
Also conventions were great memories Vancouver where we drove to whistler from Seattle the b& b were fun to try we still when traveling with friend we always take turns deciding the restarunt it was noted Dons was always the closest while we made him walk miles
The memories are special
As a couple Don and Sandy were special for each other Our condolences for your loss
December 23, 2018