Colonel (Retired) Donald “Don” Blascak (88) passed away quietly on December 10, 2022. His daughter and son were by his side. Don was born, August 19, 1934, in West Orange, New Jersey, and attended West Orange High School. After high school, Don studied Agricultural Science at The Ohio State University. Upon graduation, he was commissioned into the US Army as a 2nd Lieutenant on October 26, 1956. After a short stint as an Armor Officer, he joined the US Army Special Forces serving three tours in Vietnam. During this time, Don served a three-year tour at the Central Intelligence Agency where he developed an interest in Intelligence operations, and later branch-transferred to Military Intelligence. Don served the MI community in a variety of command and staff positions. In addition to commanding at every level from platoon through brigade, he served as Senior Intelligence Officer at V Corps, stationed in Frankfurt, West Germany, and the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. He was a graduate of the Armor Officer Basic Course, the Military Intelligence Advanced Course, 47 weeks of Arabic language training, multiple Intelligence related schools and courses, Airborne School, the Special Forces Qualification Course, the Command and General Staff College, and the US Army War College. In addition to his tours in Vietnam, he served overseas in Korea, Germany, and Panama. He held a BS in Agriculture from The Ohio State University, and a MA in Public Administration from Shippensburg University. His medals include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Vietnam Service Medal and many more. He received the Knowlton Award for Excellence in Army Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency’s Outstanding Performance Award, and was inducted into the US Army Intelligence Hall of Fame at Fort Huachuca, AZ. After completing 30 years of Active-Duty Service, Don retired at the rank of Colonel on October 31, 1986.
Early in his career he met and married Lila JoAnn Berry, of Fayetteville, NC. Together they travelled the world (home is where the Army sends you), and raised two children, daughter, Marlee and son, Marc.
Following a full career of service to the nation as an Army Officer, Don embarked on the next chapter of his life, giving to others and to his community. He was a co-founder of the Stand Down for Homeless Veterans and conducted several Stand-Downs in Tucson, Yuma and Casa Grande. He also co-founded the Festival of Hope and the Hope Fest. He coordinated six Festival of Hope events providing a variety of social services benefiting Tucson’s underserved communities. He worked with the Tucson Planning Council for the Homeless, the Winter Shelter Committee, and the Discharge Planning Committee. He was an Angel Tree Coordinator for eight years and an Angel Tree Instructor for five years. Ever busy, Don sat on the boards of: Mission Tucson; Hope of Glory; Pima Country Community Justice Board; Good News Newspaper; Interfaith Coalition for the Homeless; United Way – Supporting Senior – Compassion Capital Fund; the Tucson Coalition of Compassionate Care Ministries; and Compass Affordable Housing, Inc.. In support of the American Red Cross, Don was a Disaster Action Team Coordinator, a Disaster Chairperson with the Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Red Cross. He was an instructor for Disaster Services / Shelter Management / Disaster Assessment / Weapons of Mass Destruction / and Emergency Operations Center operations. He also served as a Shelter Manager in support of the Rodeo Chedeski Fire and Hurricane Katrina response.
In addition to the military awards already mentioned, Don received the Robert Moore Award from Compass Health, and was recognized as Volunteer of the Year by Sun Sounds Radio Reading Service, and also as Volunteer of the Year by the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness.
Besides helping others, Don had two passions, dogs and military history. He gave countless hours of service to the Southern Arizona Greyhound Rescue focusing on the care and fostering of Greyhounds in need. Don never met a greyhound he wouldn’t adopt and at his height had three greyhounds calling his house their home. Don was fascinated, some would say obsessed, with the study of the Battle of Gettysburg. Through the years, he visited the battlefield more than a dozen times, led small gatherings on battlefield tours there, and created a collection of Gettysburg books and memorabilia perhaps second only to the actual Gettysburg Museum.
He is preceded in death by his father, Stanley Joseph Blascak, his mother Ruth Godfrey Blascak, and his wife Lila JoAnn Berry Blascak. Don is survived by his daughter Marlee Blascak Marshall, her husband LTC (RET) Timothy J. Marshall, grandsons Weston Timothy Marshall (22) and Jeb Owen Marshall (20), all of Lansing, Kansas. And, son Marc Weston Blascak of Tucson, Arizona.
A Celebration of a Life Well Lived is scheduled for December 19th, at 11:00am, at Grace Community Church, 9755 N. La Cholla Blvd, Tucson, AZ.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to “Compass Affordable Housing” at 48 N. Tucson Blvd. . #102, Tucson, AZ 85716 or to www.compassaffordablehousing.org