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Donald William Wahle

Donald William Wahle

Donald William Wahle, a long-time resident of the Rogue Valley, died on April 25 at age 78 following a short illness. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 27, at Perl Funeral Home in Medford, 772-5488.

Don was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 26, 1928, the son of Joseph and Lillian Pechous Wahle, who themselves were German and Prussian immigrants. Raised in the West Lake View area of Chicago, Don attended St. Andrews grade school and Lane Technical High School on Chicago's north side, and often recalled family gatherings on weekends with his 60+ cousins -- the Bandelins, the Kaisers, the Heislers, the Griebels -- many of whom he remained in close contact with throughout his life.

After a stint in the Army in 1946-47, where he served as a military policeman, he returned to Chicago and college life, attending the University of Illinois at Navy Pier, the University of Chicago, and trying out both law school and optometry school before earning his degree from Chicago Teachers' College in Chicago (now Northeastern University) in 1955. While in college, he met and later married the former Cecelia Margaret Adamkiewicz of Chicago, the daughter of Polish immigrants. Don and Cecelia were each the first members of their family to graduate from college. Their marriage was tragically short; Cecelia died in 1964, leaving Don to raise their two children by himself -- Christopher, now a law enforcement officer in Fallon, NV, and Karen, an attorney in Washington, DC.

After college, Don began his 35-year career as a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, almost all at Mary G. Peterson Elementary School in northwest Chicago, where Don taught science to generations of junior high school students. Many of his students kept in touch with him throughout his life; he received so many email messages in the last few years that he could not respond to them all and had to seek help from family members. Among Don's former students is an astronaut with NASA; several college professors in the sciences including a member of the National Academy of Sciences; a former director of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago; a former resident scientist of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago; and numerous students who went on to earn Ph.D.'s and earn a living in the sciences. It was of these accomplishments that Don was most proud, and he often spoke of his former students and their accomplishments.

Don retired to the Rogue Valley in 1988 with his second wife, Patricia Chapman, who died in 1996. In 1997, he met and married the former Marilyn George, who survives him, and with whom he enjoyed many happy years.

Don was quite the renaissance man, enjoying numerous hobbies throughout his life. These include taxidermist, master watch repairman, dog trainer, coin collector and dealer, publisher of coin and stamp hobby newspapers (the Coin Trading News and the Stamp Trading News), importer/exporter, photographer, camera repairman, clock collector and dealer, silver refiner, fishing lure developer ("Wahle's Walleye Wonder"), archery (Illinois State Champion of 1973), gemstone importing and trading, amateur radio operator, farmer, and designer of log cabins. He always enjoyed hunting and fishing, taking drives in the car, and visiting with relatives and neighbors. He taught his children to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, and to value friends and relatives above all else.

In addition to his wife Marilyn, and his children Christopher and Karen, he is survived by his sister Sharon Neumann, five grandchildren (Evelyn Mayaan, Aimee, Cindee, Heather and Jennifer Bellows), one great-grandchild, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. He is also survived by Marilyn's four children (Lisa Watkins, Lori Michaels, Jacqueline Morris and Jeff Utter), with whom he is close, and Marilyn's six grandchildren. He was loved by many, and will be missed by all.

Donald William Wahle