Memorial Services to honor and celebrate the life of Donald "Don" Teson will be 6:30 p.m. Saturday, October 5, 2019 in the RiverCrest Event Center, 13329 S. Memorial Dr., Bixby. Don passed away on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 in Bixby. He was 83.
On June 3, 1936, Donald Lee Teson became the first of two surviving children born to John Leo Teson and Vivian V. (Taylor) Teson. Donald or "Don" as he was affectionately known, spent his early years in Meadville, Pennsylvania, but would move with his family to Ohio, Oklahoma, and eventually, California as his father's career in aviation engineering demanded.
While living in Oklahoma, the senior Teson was visited by Howard Hughes as John had recently made a modification to one of Hughes' planes. John phoned home to let Vivian know they would be hosting a guest for dinner that evening, but not sharing who the guest was. While sitting at the dinner table, Mr. Hughes began to talk of John's accomplishments, but was quickly shut down by Vivian as she stated, "We do not talk about work at the table."
Following dinner, Mr. Hughes was able to brag on John and asked Vivian if he could help them move to California where John could continue improving upon Hughes' planes and projects. The family moved a short time later to Westchester, California where Don began high school.
Having a passion for sports, even at an early age, Don played baseball during his youth. Sadly, he suffered not only one, but two breaks in his throwing arm within a short amount of time. Although these injuries removed him from competing, in no way did they end his love and dedication to sports. This could be seen, throughout high school, as he took on the role of a baseball manager and, later in life, as he devoted himself to sports and the kids who played them.
Following high school, Don would enter the United States Navy serving during the Vietnam Era. Total, he would spend 16 years in the service, crossing the International Date Line (IDL) four times: once, aboard the USS Kermit Roosevelt; once, aboard the USS Frontier; and twice, aboard the USS Piedmont. He also served twice on the USS Coontz, one of the first destroyers with missiles. In addition to being accepted into the Ancient and Sacred Order of the Golden Dragon for his crossing of the IDL, Don was also awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and National Defense Medal
During his time in the military, Don found himself playing intramural ball and helping to coach little league teams. He even managed to coach while stationed in Japan despite the language barrier. Upon his honorable discharge from the service, Don would work a short time as a machinist but was able to find a job that, again, aligned with his passion for sports when he became an athletic equipment manager for the public-school systems in California. Through the years, he was employed by Anaheim High, Kennedy High, Nogales High, and Walnut High all in California. Through his employment, he was able to fix athletic equipment and work to prepare ball fields for practices and games. He also coached Little League baseball and Pop Warner football teams. Most of all, he was a positive role model, coach, and encourager for hundreds, if not thousands, of students and young people.
In addition to his job at school, Don was an umpire and referee for various sporting events. He was proud of this and especially enjoyed his involvement with the USA Wrestling program where he was a certified referee. While at home, as one might guess, Don could be found watching sports. His favorite to watch was football, followed by baseball, and later lacrosse joined the mix. Don was even a Kyle Busch fan in the Xfinity series and Jeff Gordon and Chase Elliot in NASCAR races. Once both he, and his younger sister, Karen, retired to Bixby, the two held season tickets to the Tulsa Drillers, OSU football for three years, and Golden Hurricane football for five years. Most of all, for the last 15 years, Don loved watching Bixby Spartan football, basketball, baseball, softball, and wrestling. If he wasn’t volunteering at the games, he went to support his beloved Spartan athletes.
If it wasn't sports, Don enjoyed watching westerns, history-related shows, or movies. He was also a lover of music and had quite the collection of country music and big band albums. Those sounds may have been what drew him to the saxophone as he played in both the marching and concert bands in high school.
Don has been described as a lover of sports and of those who played them, sweet, a kid at heart, and a bit opinionated. He will certainly be missed by those who knew him.
He is survived by a sister, Karen Ignatius of Bixby; niece, Kimberly Rae Ignatius (Dave) of California; aunt, Jan Teson and daughter, Terrie Rae Price (Jeff) also of California; along with a huge number of cousins, other relatives, and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, grandparents and many first cousins.
Those who wish may donate in Don's memory to Bixby Athletics or the Disabled American Veterans Association.