A teacher, educator and public servant, Don passed away gently at home in Ottawa early on Jan. 5 with family around him and his beloved Shirley (Flemington) at his side. Don and Shirl had been side by side since meeting as students at Mount Allison University and marrying in 1952. To have Shirl as his wife was Don’s deepest joy and proudest accomplishment.
Don was the devoted father of Karen, David (Darlene Gunther) and Richard (Suzanne Bullock), and loving granddad of Sean and Ally Crighton (Karen, Iain Crighton parents). Don’s little sister Patricia (Bob MacDonald, deceased) of Dartmouth, N.S., survives him, along with brother-in-law Peter Flemington (Jean) of Toronto and many wonderful nieces, nephews and cousins whose lives Don followed with great interest and love.
Don entered Mt. A to study theology, but graduated in 1951 with a BA in history and a B.Ed., beginning as a school teacher in Nova Scotia. He soon joined the Royal Canadian Navy as an instructor officer, and was promoted to lieutenant-commander in 1961. Don and Shirl began their family at Annapolis Royal, N.S., and moved to postings in Victoria, B.C., Dartmouth, N.S., Ottawa, Plymouth, U.K., Toronto, and back to Ottawa, where Don retired from the navy in 1974. He then worked for nine years as a training specialist with Revenue Canada Taxation in Ottawa.
Through all his moves, Don never really left Dartmouth, N.S., which remained at the core of who he became. He was the son of Arthur Howard Tait, who had served in the First World War with the 85th Battalion Nova Scotia Highlanders, and Helen Masters Morash, who grew up on a farm in nearby Cole Harbour.
Don felt blessed to have grown up on the shores of Lake Banook. He was committed to paddling and coaching (and dances) at the Banook Canoe Club, and was continually organizing basketball and hockey teams with friends. He was immensely proud of the women’s war canoe teams he coached at Banook during summers home from Mt. A.
Don was also grateful to those teachers in Dartmouth who helped him through early doubts at school, and felt much accomplishment when he earned a MA in history from Dalhousie University in 1962, despite a full-time naval career and three small children. Those struggles and accomplishments shaped him to be a fine teacher, a fine father, and a caring and loving husband most of all.
The family is deeply grateful to the Champlain LIHN and to the skilled and kind helpers it provided. No service at Don’s request. Interment will be at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa in the spring. In lieu of flowers, Don’s family encourages donations to wherever they may help others.