STEVENSVILLE — Donald B. Koeppen, 96, of Stevensville, passed away peacefully at home while resting in his easy chair on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. He was born Jan. 26, 1922, in Walworth, Wisconsin, the youngest of four children born to William A. and Lunetta M. (Simonson) Koeppen.
He was raised in Walworth and graduated from Walworth Public High School in 1939. While in school, he played many sports, earning numerous letters in football, basketball and track. He was also an accomplished bowler and golfer.
In late 1942, he joined the greatest generation serving in the Army Air Force as a pilot and flight instructor until the war ended in 1945. He had many stories of flying P-40 and P-39 fighters; the most interesting ones were when bomber crews practiced shooting at him when he piloted a target plane. He had the pleasure of joining his fellow veterans in 2013 on an honor flight to Washington, D.C. to visit the WWII memorial.
Following the war he returned to Walworth and worked for two years as a plumber’s assistant before deciding to attend Whitewater State Teachers College in Whitewater, Wisconsin. While in school, he met his future wife, Grace E. Stiglbauer; they married in June 1950. He began his career teaching high school before returning to join the faculty at Whitewater State College. He moved from there to Stevens Point State College and, while teaching there, earned his Ph.D., from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1967, he accepted a position at the University of Montana and moved with his family to Missoula. He retired from the university in 1984 and enjoyed the retired life on 40 acres near Stevensville.
Don loved the outdoors and was an avid hunter, fisherman, horse packer, and snowmobiler. He especially enjoyed his fall hunting camps on Lena Lake in the Bob Marshall wilderness. Over the years, he and his horses made numerous pack trips with his friends and family across the wilderness of Montana and Idaho.
He is survived by his wife Grace of Stevensville; three sons, William of Stevensville, Michael (Lynn) of Florence, and David (Kay) of Eagle, Idaho; a daughter, Donna Paulsen (Rick) of Stevensville; six grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings.
At his request, there will be no services. A celebration of life for family and friends will be held from 3-5 p.m. at the Blacksmith Brewery in Stevensville on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, his 97th birthday.
The family suggests that any memorials be made to the Bitter Root Humane Association, 262 Fairgrounds Rd., Hamilton, MT 59840. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at whitesittfuneralhome.com.