Donald Schoonhoven passed away on September 7, 2019. He was born in Freeport, IL, to Henry and Elsie Schoonhoven on January 31, 1932. Growing up, he loved spending time in the nearby Indian Gardens, and swim in the creek with his brothers and neighborhood friends.
Following high school, Don enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving at the Miramar Naval Base near San Diego, CA. He then attended the University of Illinois Institute of Aviation on the G.I.Bill. There he was trained to fly Stearman biplanes, learned to do an outside loop and inverted spins flying solo. Following graduation, he went to South Dakota State University, Brookings, S. D., as a Flight Instructor and to maintain the University's fleet of airplanes. His Federal Aviation Licenses included that of Airframe & Powerplant Mechanic; Commercial Pilot; Flight Instructor, FAA Inspection Authorization and FAAS Designated Mechanic Examiner. In 1964 he went to Thief River Falls Vocational/Technical College to teach in their Aviation Mechanics program. He enjoyed classroom teaching as well as teaching skills in repairing and rebuilding damaged aircraft or doing annual inspections. Every student in his class could fly in the airplane they helped repair and returned to airworthy condition. He retired in 1992 after 28 years.
Don married Phyllis Hershberger in Freeport, IL, in February. 1953. They lived in San Diego, CA; Champaign, IL, Brookings, S.D., and Thief River Falls, MN, until retiring in 1992 in Alexandria, MN.
Don and Phyllis had four children: Cindy, Jill, Tim and Dan... most of their growing up years were spent in Brookings, SD and Thief River Falls, where they lived on the Red Lake River. Don especially loved pulling them on water skies past the swimming beach next door. In the winter, they enjoyed snowmobiling on the Red Lake River. As they had homes of their own, he would often help remodel or open the cabins and put the docks in.
Retiring in Alexandria, Don enjoyed golfing and coffee with friends. For twenty years Don volunteered at Bethany Nursing Home on Tuesday mornings. He looked forward to the Thursday afternoon men's coffee group, and he and Phyllis looked forward to having pizza on Monday nights with friends and playing bridge with special friends. The winter months were often spent in Arizona, where they escaped Minnesota's cold winters.
Don looked forward to his nine grandchildren's visits to Alexandria where he would pull them behind the snowmobile to nearby “Butt Slide Hill,” and taking them by boat to Arrowwood pool and have “shark attacks,” and making fun things for them in his garage workshop.
Don was a dog lover and especially his cocker spaniels, Skippy, Tag-A-Long and Sport. The neighborhood dogs were always drawn to him, and often Tramp, Dobber would come to his garage workshop for the doggie treats. He enjoyed having Buddy follow him around the yard and often in the evenings he would walk to neighborhood dogs to feed them doggie treats and left doggie treats in the Little Free Library in front of his house.
Don especially loved working in his yard, having almost an acre to mow... and many varieties of hostas. He planted cosmos and zinnias along Melody Lane, with a sign and scissors saying to “pick a bouquet.” He had many birdfeeders to take care of, and enjoyed watching the birds, squirrels and sometimes deer in the backyard.
Don was active in the Thief River Falls Evangelical Covenant Church and the Alexandria Covenant Church. Of his faith, he said he was a “Jesus follower.” He had many fond memories of working with friends at the Bluewater Bible Camp near Grand Rapids, MN. He and Phyllis enjoy the many friends they have made through the years in Thief River Falls and Alexandria Covenant Churches.
Don is survived by his wife, Phyllis; children Cindy Koubsky (Robert); Jill Beithon (Peter); Tim Schoonhoven (Kathy) and Dan Schoonhoven (Becky); 9 grandchildren: Ben Koubsky (Amanda); Allison Kousbky Ford (Jerwane); Andy Schoonhoven (Jenny); Katie Beithon Dachtler (Dylan); Tom Koubsky; Kelsey Schoonhoven Mickelson (Patrick); Brock Beithon (Nina); David Schoonhoven (Stephanie); and Evan Koubsky (Luanne). Also, eleven great-grandchildren: Ada, Nellie, Sawyer and Hayden, Crosby, Gus, Mya, Teagan, Ani, Jackson and Jett.
Also, brother Emmerson Schoonhoven, Seal Beach, CA; sister-in-law Helen Schoonhoven of Shannon, Il;
Deceased are parents, Henry and Elsie Schoonhoven, and brother Earl Schoonhoven; brothers and sisters-in-laws Roger and Gloria Hershberger, and Donn and Pat Hershberger.
Memorials can be designated for The Alexandria Covenant Church Every Kid A Camper; the Food Shelf or Alexandria Humane Society.
Peace to his memory.
Donald M. Schoonhoven, age 87, of Alexandria, Minn., died Saturday, Sept. 7, in his home in Grand Arbor.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at 2 PM at the Alexandria Covenant Church.
A visitation will be held for one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday.
Arrangements are with the Anderson Funeral Home and Crematory in Alexandria. www.andersonfuneral.net
To send flowers to Donald's family, please visit our floral section.