Monday, 24 June 2024

Donald Lange

Donald Lange. Courtesy photo.

Donald Neil Lange
Dec. 15, 1936 – Feb. 29, 2024

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — Longtime Lakeport resident Don Lange — born into a Lakeport legacy dating back to the turn of the 20th century — left to be with the Lord on the last day of February, after more than 87 years of an active, energetic life — filled with too many stories to tell.

Born in Upper Lake, Don spent all but a few years of his life in Lakeport. As a young child, Don lived some formative years in both Fort Bragg and Santa Rosa, by which time his parents Harry and Mildred and his sister Shirlee settled back in Lakeport in the 1940s, when Harry and his brother Ab started Lange Bros. Construction.

Don was active all through his youth — involved in athletics, playing his trumpet and pursuing his passions — hunting and fishing. His deer hunting stories are of legend — horse-backing up to four-mile and eight-mile glades at the top of Cow Mountain with his father and uncle — initially hanging onto the horsetail as he walked all the way up when he was too young to ride … or so the story goes.

One story, told too often to count, swears of a deadly 1,000-yard shot by his uncle Walt with his .25-.35 Krag rifle and his own 18-shot episode breaking all four deer legs before the buck finally went down.

Don’s legendary stories also reflected upon his high school years, where he graduated from Clear Lake Union High School in 1955, also where his father had graduated in 1933. He relished in extolling his era of playing football with no facemasks down at the fairgrounds and all his party-time escapades with too many friends to name.

Upon graduation, Don attended Santa Rosa Junior College for a year before living in San Francisco and graduating from Heald Business School in 1959, upon which time he joined the Army Reserve and served for four years.

Don stayed in the Bay Area through the early 60s, working as an engineer for the building of Stanford’s Linear Accelerator project, until a chance encounter with a young lady in a Sausalito bar also with the last name of Lange.

In less than three months, Don married Jeneane — better known as Jaye — in 1965 and both subsequently moved to Lakeport, when Don joined his father in management of Lange Bros. Construction, where he led the business for the next 30 years.

During his time with Lange Bros., Don was heavily involved in community activities and Lakeport events. He joined Lakeport Rotary in 1973 and was president in 1984, as well as a distinguished Paul Harris Fellow. He mentored many subsequent presidents and took part in many Rotary events supporting the community.

Don’s most legendary and entertaining stories undoubtedly stem from his 50-plus year membership in the Derby Hat Club, where he joined his fishing buddies twice a year for a long weekend of drinking, storytelling, fishing — and more drinking.

Don lived his life to the fullest — always optimistic, with a smile and never a complaint. His daily trip to Bruno’s lasted hours at times, stopping in the aisle regularly to visit with friends.

He will be deeply missed by family and friends alike. With his Lakeport roots running deep, Don was proud of his heritage and his lifelong community service.

Don is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jaye; sons, Brian and Kevin; daughter-in-law, Carrie; grandchildren, Brett, Travis, Julia, Rainey and Mariah; his sister, Shirlee, and her children, Rick, Mark and Traci.

A celebration of life will be held on July 13 at 4 p.m. at the home of Traci and Kevin Medina, 3272 Scott’s Valley Road, Lakeport.

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