OBITUARY: Donald Ferguson Dunbar

Donald Ferguson Dunbar was born April 3, 1927, in his parents' Buckhorn ranch home, Condon, Oregon, and passed away January 31, 2024, at home in Bethany at the age of 96.

Dunbar began his educational journey at the Buckhorn one-room schoolhouse across from their ranch and graduated from Condon High School in 1945. His education took a practical turn when he entered the US Army in July 1945. Ultimately, he was assigned to the 13th Engineers Battalion, 7th Infantry Division and stationed in Seoul, Korea, where he attained the rank of S/Sgt.

He felt especially blessed to work under Ambassador John H. Holdridge who became instrumental in opening relations with China in the Nixon Administration and served as ambassador to Singapore as well as Indonesia.Don's engineering experience with the 7th Division led to his work with the Oregon State Highway Department.

Later, taking advantage of the GI Bill he graduated in 1952 from Eastern Oregon University with a Bachelor Degree in Education. He received his Masters degree from the same institution and pursued extensive post-graduate studies through the years. He became school principal and taught grades 5-8 at two-room Fruitdale School in LaGrande, where his wife Zola taught grades 1-4. He went on to become a lifetime educator, serving 36 years as a superintendent or principal, most of that time with Beaverton, Oregon,Public Schools.Prior to joining the Beaverton school district he was superintendent of the Knox Butte School District, Albany, Oregon, for 9 years.In Beaverton he led McKinley, Hazel Dell, Garden Home, Kinnamon, and Elmonica elementary schools.

Throughout the years he enjoyed maintaining contact with former students, teachers and colleagues up until his passing.

Despite his focus on preparing children for the future, he never lost his love and pride in his Scottish and Eastern Oregon heritage. He was a frequent visitor to Gilliam and Wheeler counties and maintained contact with the Scottish relatives of his parents throughout his life. He was an active supporter of a number of groups and organizations including the Portland Highland Games, the Education Foundations of Eastern Oregon University and the University of Oregon, the Beaverton Elks, the Gilliam County Library and Museum to name just a few. He was also instrumental in supporting the creation of the Cottonwood State Park along the John Day River in Gilliam County.

He was predeceased by his wife of 67 years, Dr. Zola Dunbar, his parents, Charles & Mary Dunbar, both born in Scotland, his two brothers, Douglas and Robert, and two nephews. He is survived by daughters, Donna Mason (Carl) and Myrna Neese(David); nieces Bonnie Dunbar and Mary Dunbar Squires (Steve) daughters of his late brother Robert; four step-grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; 18 additional nieces and nephews.

A private interment with full Military Honors in Willamette National Cemetery has been held. There will be a tribute to his life at Bethany Laurel Parc, at a later date.

Family would also like to acknowledge the many friendships with residents of Laurel Parc that enriched his life, and to express their deepest appreciation for the outstanding and compassionate care provided by Brighton Hospice and staff at Laurel Parc during his final days.

Donations may be made to any of the Don & Zola Dunbar Scholarship funds established at each of the following: University of Oregon, Eastern Oregon University, Oregon Community Foundation/Condon High School, or the Schools of Education at either University. Donations may also be made to any of the Gilliam County causes near to his heart: Library, Historical Museum, Burns Dinner, 4th of July, Class Reunion, Cottonwood Canyon State Park, etc.

 

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