Nature 14

Donald Ernest Waldern

June 8, 1928 ~ December 30, 2021 (age 93)


From small-town Alberta to the Coast to the Prairies, and finally, the sunny Okanagan: Donald Ernest Waldern enjoyed a full life, an interesting career, and loving family and friends. After participating in a Christmas season full of activities at his home in Summerland Seniors Village, Don, 93, passed away from a stroke on December 30, 2021 at Penticton Regional Hospital.

Raised in Ponoka, Alberta, with three brothers and two sisters, Don lost his father, Alfred, at the age of two. His mother, Marie, continued to run the family-owned feed and coal mill, while a young Don worked on a paper route and looked after the Waldern chickens and dairy cow. When his brother Gordon joined the Royal Air Force at the start of the Second World War, Marie sent Don to help on a cousin’s farm near Ponoka during summers. His love of animals and agriculture formed the basis for his university education and career with the federal department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Marie moved Dad and his brothers to Vancouver for better opportunities in the mid-40s. Dad played English “rugger” and Canadian football at Lord Byng and King Edward high schools. Don played as a fullback with the Vancouver Blue Bombers who were the 1947 Canadian Junior Football champions. While he says he just sat on the bench, in 2008, he was proud to receive, along with other team members, the BC Lions Orange Helmet award in recognition of his contribution to the development of football in BC.

University called and Dad answered. He completed two Agriculture degrees at the University of British Columbia, and a PhD in Animal Science, Nutrition, at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington.

For several summers, Don worked at the sawmill in Youbou, BC, to pay for school. Here he met a vivacious brunette from Nanaimo, Sharon Watson, who worked in payroll. Sharon and Don married in 1953. Together, mom and dad laughed, danced, and raised four children - Joy (Steven); Trent (Sharon); Shelly; and Heather (Murray).  Along the way they also raised sheep, grew raspberries, harvested vegetable gardens, and kept immaculate homes and yards. Their love of their four grandchildren – Shyla; Ian (Deirdre); Megan (Brian); and Greg, kept Don and Sharon busy travelling to the United States. Great granddaughters Evie and Naomi brought smiles and laughs in recent years.

Dad had a strong work ethic in his personal and professional life. He taught at Washington State University and worked as a researcher at the Agriculture Canada research stations in Prince George and Agassiz. In 1973, he moved into administration as Director of the research station in Kamloops. After a two-year stint in Saskatoon, dad’s life came full circle: in 1980, he was proud to be hired as the Director of the Lacombe Research Station near Ponoka.

Retirement to Summerland in 1989 meant new adventures and new friends for Don and Sharon. Dad bought a sailboat and helped St. Stephen Anglican Church resurrect its memorial rose garden. He and mom golfed, danced, played cards, participated in church duties, and regularly helped at local charities. Active all his life, Dad enjoyed curling into his mid-80s. Throughout their many moves, and as part of all their activities, Don and Sharon made lasting lifelong friendships.

Dad was also a man of integrity. This was most evident with his excellent care of our mom throughout her years-long experience with Alzheimer’s disease. He continued helping her when they moved into Summerland Seniors Village in 2016 until her death in September 2020. Dad struggled with health issues after mom’s passing, but he still wanted to listen to the music and dance.

Don is survived by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews throughout BC, as well as sister-in-law, Mary Waldern, of Campbell River, and brother-in-law, Harold Watson, of Nanaimo.

A Memorial Service was held at Providence Funeral Homes Summerland Chapel on Friday, January 7, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. We invite you to watch a recording of the service by clicking the link below.

Donations can be made to St. Stephen Anglican Church and Penticton Regional Hospital.

To send flowers to Donald's family, please visit our floral store.


Memorial Service
January 7, 2022

12:00 PM
Providence Funeral Homes & Crematorium - Summerland Chapel
13205 Rosedale Avenue
Summerland, BC V0H 1Z0

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