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Donald “Don” Paul Smith

April 8, 2022 | 8 comments

Donald Paul Smith, (Don), age 81, of LaCrosse, WI made his long-hoped-for transition to eternal life on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, at Bluffview Memory Care in Holmen, WI. Don was born in LaCrosse on December 1, 1940, to John Robert (“Jack”) Smith and Pernell Agnes (“Nell”) (Kenyon) Smith. He married Kay (Durden) Smith on November 11, 1961, at Bethany Evangelical Free Church in LaCrosse and remained married until death parted them.

Don worked for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, was a proud LaCrosse northsider, a lifetime member of the Logan Booster Club, and a devoted Green Bay Packers fan. Losing his own father as a teenager altered the course of his life. He often referenced that loss and how it motivated him to provide and care for his wife and children in every way he knew how. He loved the family he came from and the family he created with all his heart.

Don enjoyed country and gospel music and loved to dance, especially the polka. A self-proclaimed “armchair theologian” he often contemplated his faith in God, always concluding that he’d understand it better once he and Jesus could talk face-to-face. We can only imagine the conversation that started Tuesday night!

Don is survived by his loving wife, Kay, and four adult children: Dean Smith, Middleton, WI; Deb (Curtis) Gustafson, Hawthorn Woods, IL; Ed (Ann) Smith, Sun Prairie, WI; and Julie (Steven) Duffrin of LaCrosse, WI. His survivors also include his beloved grandchildren: Kayla (Ben) Wiest, Hawthorn Woods, IL; Bethany (Andrew) Bowman, Onalaska, WI; James Duffrin, Winona, MN; and Joe Duffrin, LaCrosse, WI; as well as his great-grandchildren Madison and Peyton Wiest, Hawthorn Woods, IL. Survivors from Don’s family of origin are his siblings Robert (“Bud”) Smith, Holmen, WI; Marilyn Osweiler, LaCrosse, WI; and David (“Blue”) Smith, Onalaska, WI.

Don was preceded in death by his parents; his step father, Irv Holliday; his sister Beverly and brother-in-law Bob McCoy, his brother Richard (Dick) and sister-in-law Marilyn Smith, and infant siblings Hazel Pernell Smith and John Edward Smith. He was also preceded in death by his father-in-law Edward Durden, mother-in-law Juliette (Potter) Durden, and brother-in-law Dale Durden.

Don’s family would like to thank the staff of Bluffview Memory Care for their patience, skill, and tenderness in coming alongside us to care for him since September 2019. We saw your love for him as we all said goodbye for now; thank you.

Memorials in Don’s honor may be sent to the Wisconsin Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association online at  https://www.alz.org/wi or by mail at: Wisconsin Chapter, Alzheimer’s Association, 225 N. Michigan Avenue, Floor 17, Chicago IL 60601.

At Don’s request, his memorial service will be a country hymn singalong celebrating his new life in Heaven. Friends and family are invited to join us on Good Friday, April 15, 2022, at The Gathering Place, 133 Mason Street, Onalaska, WI at 11:00 a.m. with visitation one hour before the service. While your sadness is welcome, please join us in wearing happy colors as we mourn with the sure hope of eternal life.



  1. Patricia Ann Potter

    Don : You will be missed by so many. It was a privilege to share your wonderful family. Hope you are resting in God’s arms.

  2. Sarah J. Nohr

    Don was a Logan classmate who was always upbeat and friendly even when we visited him at Bluffview Memory Care. Our sympathy to Kay and family. We wish we could be at the memorial service but we are currently living out of the area. Sarah and Phil Nohr

  3. Barbara Hatlestad Kampa

    We were schoolmates. He was such a genuinely nice person. RIP my friend.

  4. Faye Goldsmith

    Kay, I’m so sorry to hear of Don’s passing. Sending many thoughts and prayers to you and your family. Take care.
    Faye Goldsmith

  5. jeffrey wallace

    So sorry to learn of Don,s passing my Mom & Dad were Lawrence & Betty Wallace who were friends-my Dad had Larrys Gas Station i talked to Don on several occasions when he brought state vehicles in for service work.Condolences to all of Don,s family

  6. Lynette Neumann

    I am sorry to family and friends. Lynette (Schaller) Neumann

  7. Deb Howe

    Don, your legacy at the DOT La Crosse lives on. While I never met you, I often heard your name. God bless your family during this time. Enjoy the music in heaven.

  8. Larry & Sharon Kirby, (currently in AZ).

    We are beyond regretful that we have to miss the celebration of “Smitty’s” exemplary life. His high school gang never split up, a testament to the strong bonds they shared. He always had a smile & a laugh ready for us. We will truly miss him! 😔

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