VICTOR— My dad, Don Berkley, passed away early on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. He died peacefully at home in his sleep with Rex, his beloved dog, snoring beside him.
Donald Thomas Berkley was born on April 22, 1932, in Evanston, Illinois, to Gerald John Berkley and Frances (Doyle) Berkley. He grew up on Diamond Lake in rural Lake County, Illinois. He attended Saint Joseph Elementary School and Libertyville High School in Libertyville, Illinois. He graduated from St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Indiana, with a degree in business administration and economics.
Don met his wife Marilyn (Panther) Berkley while attending college. They married upon graduation and their only child, Sheila, was born June 16, 1955.
His business career started with Shell Oil in Chicago. He wished however to move west, and in 1966 started his career in Industrial Steel and Fiberglass Fabrication which moved the family to Boulder, Colorado. His work took him to job sites throughout the west involving the mining, timber, petrochemical, nuclear and aerospace industries. It was during this time he discovered the Bitterroot Valley and knew this would be his forever home. Don and Marilyn built and moved to their dream home in 1979. He retired in 1994 at age 62.
His interests can be summed up in one phrase. He was an outdoorsman. He began hunting and fishing in northern Illinois as a boy and never stopped. His fishing expeditions took him to the lakes of Wisconsin, Minnesota, various provinces in Canada, the rivers of Alaska and off the coasts of Florida, Texas and Alaska. His bird hunts (with his Labradors and later in life Brittanies) took him throughout Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Florida, Georgia, and the Dakotas. His big game hunts took him throughout Colorado, Montana, Alaska, the Northern Territories and the Yukon. He was very proud of his hunting skills and has many a mount, trophy, photograph and story to prove it!
Another skill he was proud of was being involved in building his three homes. He designed and help build the family home in Libertyville, Illinois. He was involved in the finishing touches of the family home up Sunshine Canyon in Boulder, Colorado, and he played contractor on his final home in Montana.
Don was preceded in death by his father, Gerald Berkley; his mother, Frances Berkley; wife, Marilyn Berkley; and sister, Grace McGowen. He is survived by his daughter, Sheila Berkley and husband Walt Smith; brother-in-law, Tom McGowen; nephew, Tommy McGowen; niece, Marsha McGowen; niece, Mallory Gorman; and his “best buddy,” Rex.
A Catholic Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 11 a.m., at St. Francis Catholic Church, in Hamilton, with Father Jim Connor as celebrant. There will be no reception. Private family interment will take place in the summer at Riverview Cemetery where he will join his wife.
If you wish, donations can be made in his name to the charity of your choice. Those of his favor would include Marcus Daly Hospice Foundation, Montana Cancer Center, St. Patrick Hospital (who took care of his wife), and the Bitterroot Humane Association.
Condolences may be left for the family at www.dalyleachchapel.com.
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