Donn Gene Shankland

Nov 30, 1929 – Dec 7, 2016

Donn Gene Shankland obituary image 1



Donn was born in Omaha, Nebraska to Donn Sr and Ann Pokorny on November 30, 1929.  He succumbed to complications of Parkinson’s Disease on December 7, 2016.

An enthusiastic student of life, Donn completed studies at both public and Japanese School. On graduation from Cleveland High School at age 16, Donn matriculated at the University of Washington, studying physics, playing in the band, and joining Pi Kappa Alpha.  These early passions defined his career and his life. Though he sought academic advancement, he responded to his country’s call to serve as an Air Force fighter pilot in the Korean conflict. Following his deployment, Donn was stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio. There, he met the love of his life, Carole Dearbaugh.  The two wasted little time before marrying. Shortly thereafter, Donn and Carole moved on to Columbus, where Donn continued his studies, culminating in a Ph.D. in physics at the Ohio State University.


The couple located to Beavercreek, Ohio as Donn continued his career in research physics at the Aeronautical Research Lab at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, later transitioning, to inspire graduate students as a Professor of Physics at the Air Force Institute of Technology, while raising a family.  Constantly pursuing academic challenges and new venues for interesting applications of physics and math, Donn obtained his MBA, and also attained rank of Colonel prior to retirement there. Longing to return to the Northwest, Donn accepted a managerial and research position in Seattle, for Boeing Computer Services and B2 development. 

Following his second retirement, a decision oft regretted, Donn continued to work on computer programming and play music with several local organizations.  The couple enjoyed traveling the world.  Donn mastered the languages of many of their travel destinations.  As Parkinson’s began to take its unyielding toll, the couple settled at the Skyline retirement center to enjoy family and friends.

Donn’s quick sarcastic humor, his wisdom and incessant pursuit of knowledge, and his balanced approach to life will be missed, but not as much as his companionship and steady role in a very tight family.

Donn is survived by his loyal, loving wife of 60 years, Carole, a son Eric (Julie), and daughter Bonnie Rose (Mike).  He was blessed with 5 grandchildren, Christopher and Nicholas [Eric], and Soren, Sam, and Hannah [Bonnie].  He leaves a brother, Richard Shankland (Linda), of Gig Harbor, a niece Sharon, nephew Karl and their children. 

We wish to thank the Terraces of Skyline at First Hill for the excellent care and attention received, and Swedish Hospital personnel for the comfort and care during his stay. Services for Donn will be held Thursday, 11:00 am at the Bonney-Watson Funeral Home Chapel, 1732 Broadway, with internment later at Tahoma National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Union Gospel Mission, Salvation Army, or NW Parkinson’s Foundation.


This obituary is provided by Bonney-Watson, providing caring and compassionate funeral, cremation and cemetery services since 1868. We have a professional staff, four funeral homes, two cremation facilities and one of the largest cemeteries south of Seattle, as well as a comprehensive grief support program.