Donn Michael Lancaster

Passed away on January 5, 2019

Donn Michael Lancaster died on January 5th, 2019 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia after a short battle with a swiftly advancing cancer. He was born on January 14th, 1950 in Ithaca, New York. Donn was an extraordinary man whose soul was given to his family, his faith and his calling as an educator. He deeply appreciated the beauty of nature, music and the visual arts. He loved people.

Donn is survived by his wife, Mary Carol Compton Lancaster. Together they shared a life of laughter and mutual love. For 48 years they engaged the world together. He is also survived by his son, Jeffrey Lancaster (Rebecca) and grandchildren Kayleigh and Brendan of Manassas, Virginia; his mother, Virginia Pauline Lancaster of Fayetteville, Arkansas; one brother, Richard Lancaster (Rebecca) of North Little Rock, Arkansas; one sister, Susan Lawrence (Ben) of Montrose, Arkansas and eleven nieces and nephews.

Donn was preceded in death by his father, J.L. Lancaster, Jr. and by his brother Eric Lancaster.

Donn was a graduate of the University of Arkansas (BS and PhD), Colorado State University (Masters), and University of Richmond (Masters of Teaching). His life’s work was dedicated to the students at The New Community School, inspiring them to feed their curiosity and encouraging them to strive for excellence in developing their gifts and passions. He enjoyed playing and coaching volleyball and basketball and time spent fly fishing and hiking the mountains of Colorado.

Donn was a member of Three Chopt Presbyterian Church and an Elder of the Presbyterian Church USA. For 30 years he and Carol sang in the TCPC Chancel Choir.

Donn believed in people working together in community and he lived his life for the common good. He is now at peace and his voice is added to the heavenly anthem. A Memorial Service will be planned for a later date. Memorial gifts may be made to The New Community School Scholarship Fund (4211 Hermitage Road, Richmond, VA 23227).


No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Donn Michael Lancaster

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Caroline Melton

January 15, 2019

He was my science teacher at TNCS. He was the first science teacher that believe in me and my passion. He is the reason I want to go into education. He also was the teacher who made science fun. I hated science and he made it so much fun that after I left TNCS I looked forward to any science class.

Lydia Minich

January 15, 2019

I first met Mr. Lancaster when I attended The New Community School in the 6th grade. I had the opportunity to learn, grow and appreciate his patience, kindness and giving personality that he gave to all of his students he came across.
Being a student with a learning disability who was NOT thrilled about learning, who was coming to a new school, and after losing my mom just a few years earlier, I was not exactly excited about coming to TNCS at first. However after orientation and having Kori show me around, I met Mr. L. He gave me a warm welcome that made me feel comfortable and accepted. He was someone that you could rely on when you were upset, having a bad day, or needed extra help, not only with science, but any subject!
He was also, for a short time, one of my volleyball coaches at TNCS. At the time we were a team that was just starting out, and probably not the best, but he didn’t care. As long as we were having fun, he was having fun. It was not about winning. It was about participation and building character to be a team. Mr. L would attend many, if not most, sport games that where at home to support and cheer us on!
From middle school all the way to high school, I would always see Mr.L. Every time I would pass him in the halls or grounds, “Hi Lydia. How are you today?” I would respond with a “Hey Mr. L.” and shuffle on to whatever I was doing.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have met such a great person. You helped many students and people like me without asking for anything in return. Mr. L, you will always have a special place in my heart and in my family’s heart. Thank you for helping me become the person I am today. I will forever be grateful and you will be truly missed.
Lydia Minich ('09) & Family
Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Buddha (Hindu Prince Gautama Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C)

MT and Rob Phillips

January 15, 2019

Mr L. will always have a special place in our hearts. He gave our daughter Alex a love of science and teaching and the dream to return to TNCS to do that! Alex looked up to Mr L and thought of him as a grandfather she never had. We are so very sorry for your loss, know that he lives on in his students.

Michael Bland

January 14, 2019

Donn taught my daughter and son at TNCS and had a profound impact on both. He believed in all of his students and loved teaching. It was his life's calling and he was one of the best at it.

As a board member, I had the opportunity to work with Donn on strategic planning for the school. He was a visionary.

Losing Donn does not mean we lose his lasting impact. Everyone he taught and everyone with whom he worked are better off for having him in our lives. We all owe him a great deal. Donn will be remembered and missed greatly.

Wendell Welder

January 14, 2019

Austin and I are so sorry to hear of Mr. Lancaster's passing, and our heart goes out to his family. Our son went to New Community and we are so thankful for his kindness and leadership at TNCS. Austin and Wendell Welder

Michael Hamway

January 14, 2019

I can never forget Mr. L's unique brand of patience and kindness to my daughter when she was a student at New Community. While that was almost twenty years ago, he earned my appreciation, admiration and respect. I will continue to remember him as the special person he was.

Paul and Ellyn Foltz

January 14, 2019

Paul and I were so sorry to hear of Donn’s death. We saw him a little less than two years ago when we visited the school and Donn was still engaged in the classroom, changing children’s lives for the better. Our condolences to Donn’s family and the school family.

Paul and Ellyn Foltz
Atlanta, GA

Nancy Volante

January 13, 2019

My daughter attended New Community 10 years ago and Mr. L was so patient and kind. I have the fondest memories of Donn and am heartbroken for your loss.

Deb Hamilton

January 10, 2019

Mr Lancaster’s legacy will remain alive for years within the hearts of all the students whose lives he so greatly impacted. My condolences to his family, friends and co workers.

David Vanderburg

January 7, 2019

It was so good to have some time with Donn before he left us. Michele and I have many fond memories of our time together with Donn & Carol, and our church family. We send our loving thoughts to Carol & family.