Donald Liewer, a former Island resident and longtime volunteer with the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, died April 1 in Fremont, Nebr. He was 87.
Don was born July 23, 1935, in Osmond, Nebr., where his parents owned the local newspaper and a café. He and his family tended a Victory Garden during World War II.
He was drafted into the Army in 1954 and sent to Bainbridge Island, where he was part of a team manning a Nike Missile battery.
While stationed on Bainbridge, Don met his future bride, Gail “Cindy” Clough, whose family had moved there during World War II. They were married at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church Nov. 23, 1956.
He was honorably discharged in 1957 and used his G.I. Bill benefits to earn an electrical engineering degree from the University of Washington. After graduation, he took a job with Boeing. Don and Cindy had five children.
The family lived in Seattle until 1969, and in Minnesota, for four years, when Don returned to Boeing and brought his family back to Bainbridge Island. A skilled carpenter and electrician, he designed and built the family home on Park Avenue.
Don joined the BIFD as a volunteer firefighter/EMT in 1973. During 30 years with the organization, he helped to fight major fires including the high school fire. He delivered a baby aboard a ferry boat in the back of a Bainbridge ambulance and was part of the team of EMTs that took Jon Minnoch – later recognized by Guinness as the world’s heaviest man – to a hospital in Seattle.
For Boeing, Don worked on major defense projects including the Air Launched Cruise Missile and the B-2 bomber. He retired in 1995. Cindy Liewer died in 1998.
The following year, he met Tamara Timnick Weber, who had grown up just 8 miles from Don in Nebraska but had moved to Lynden, Wash., to care for her elderly mother.
Tamara became the second love of his life. They were married in January 2000, and built a new home and a new life in Lynden. They enjoyed traveling to visit their children and grandchildren and took five trips to Europe, and spent winters in Arizona.
Don was a three-time cancer survivor but died of kidney disease. A Memorial Mass will be held at 10 a.m. June 23 at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Fremont, Nebr., and it will be livestreamed by Moser Memorial Chapel at www.mosermemorialchapels.com. Burial will follow at Omaha National Cemetery.
Don was preceded in death by his parents, Eugene and Cecilia “Sue” Liewer, his first wife, Cindy, and his son, Gregory. He is survived by his wife, Tamara, of Fremont, Nebr.; three sisters; Anita Morrell, Mary Jane Weber and Gloria Duenwald; four children; Patricia Zuniga of Meridian, Idaho; Steven Liewer of Omaha, Nebr.; Joan Eik of Big Timber, Mt.; and Scott Liewer, formerly of Seattle; five stepchildren, 10 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and cousin Steve Schmitz of Bainbridge Island.
Memorials may be made to the Bainbridge Island Volunteer Firefighters Association by contacting TPeterson@bifd.org.