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Dr. Donald's Story

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Donald Ward Buchanan, 90, of Mankato cleared his last hurdle on February 1, 2018, and crossed the finish line while surrounded by his wife, Pat, and daughters Teri and Peggy as the Lord took his hand.
Funeral services will be at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 8, 2018, at Hosanna Lutheran Church in Mankato. Visitation will be from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday at Woodland Hills Funeral Home, Mankato. Visitation will continue one hour prior to the services Thursday at the church. Burial will be at Woodland Hills in Mankato.
Don was born in Mankato at St. Joseph's Hospital on October 8, 1927 and was the only child of William D. and Jessie M. (Thurston) Buchanan. He and his parents moved to St. James in 1936. Don graduated from St. James High School in 1945 with 12 athletic letters and one in music. He was selected to the first annual Minnesota All Star Football team and played in the game on August 25, 1945, at the University of Minnesota stadium. Don entered the U.S. Navy during World War II. Following his discharge, he attended Mankato State Teachers College (n/k/a Minnesota State University/Mankato) and received his B.S. degree in 1949 and his M.S. in 1955. Don attended Indiana University for his doctorate in recreation, completing the program in 1970.
Starting his 40-year career in education in 1950, Don taught at Elgin and Owatonna schools prior to joining the Mankato State faculty in 1955-56. He taught physical education at the Lower Campus Lab School/Wilson Campus School and at the college physical education department. Don became the first full-time Men's Intramural Sports Director and coached the Men's National Championship (Intercollegiate) Bowling Team in 1962. He established the Mankato State College Recreation and Parks Administration Department and was the department chairman 1970-76. In 1976 he was named Dean of the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation/Human Performance. Don held this position until his retirement in 1990.
Don married his high school sweetheart, Ora Dyrstad, on June 19, 1951. They were blessed with 54 years of marriage until her death in 2005. They are survived by two daughters, Teri Pederson of Mankato and Peggy (Matt) Weller of Stillwater. Don was especially proud of his three grandchildren, Bradley (Rebecca) Pederson, Alex Otto and Libby Otto, and three great-grandsons, Benjamin, Tyler and Owen Pederson. Don married Patricia (Gast) Buchanan on July 15, 2006, and they were blessed with 11 ½ years of marriage.
Don's maternal great grandfather, Rufus Thurston, homesteaded in Blue Earth County in 1855 and several Thurston cousins remain in the area. Don's father emigrated from Dauphin, Manitoba, (changing the spelling of his last name from Buchannon) and several Buchannon cousins remain in Manitoba and British Columbia.
Don's hobbies were diverse and included waterfowl hunting for almost 70 years, western mule deer hunting and waterfowl conservation, collecting old wood duck decoys and trapshooting. Don also enjoyed watercolor painting, writing, reading, poetry and photography. Don's family especially enjoyed winter travel and shelling on Sanibel Island, Florida. He was the liaison for the remaining St. James High School class of 1945. He developed a "Day in May" and hosted the annual event for a group of waterfowlers at his hunting shack for 38 consecutive years. Don was a board member of the Minnesota Decoy Collectors Association from 1978-1994.
Some of the honors Don received included Trustee Emeritus of Ducks Unlimited and the Ducks Unlimited Jimmy Robinson Appreciation Award. Don also received the Minnesota State University/Mankato Hall of Distinction Award and Minnesota State University/Mankato Distinguished Alumni Award. He was inducted into the Mankato area USBC Men's Bowling Hall of Fame and the St. James High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Don was a Minnesota State University/Mankato Alumni Association board member for three years. A three-year college letterman in hurdling himself, he endowed a scholarship for a male hurdler when he retired. He and Pat have established an endowment fund to provide a scholarship for a Minnesota State University/Mankato Recreation and Leisure Services student, reflecting the program he established.
Memorials will be directed to the Don and Pat Buchanan Scholarship Endowment fund or to the donor's choice.
Published on February 5, 2018
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