Don Strel, 86, died Oct. 13, 2020 from myelogenous leukemia and dementia.
Don was born in San Francisco, California to Lorraine (McManus) and Orest Streltzoff and grew up near Golden Gate Park. He graduated from San Francisco State College, served in the Army at Fort Benjamin Harris in Indiana and met his first wife, Sheila Sullivan. He returned to San Francisco to teach art at San Francisco State and then became a professor of art and design at Northern Illinois University. He also taught at the Chicago Art Institute, working with high school and college students in a program that combined outdoor adventure with art.
Don and Sheila divorced and Sheila moved to Santa Fe. Don followed to be close to his young children and to become director of the Museum of Fine Art. He met and married Anne Hillerman, who was an arts reporter at The New Mexican. Don left the museum and worked in public relations and photography for Eight Northern Pueblos, Ski Santa Fe, and many other clients. An expert skier, Don organized New Mexico's Jimmie Heuga Ski Express, raising close to a million dollars for multiple sclerosis research.
Don used his skill as a photographer and designer to work with Anne on books including Gardens of Santa Fe and Tony Hillerman's Landscape. Don had several exhibits, including a one-man show at the Santa Fe Public library in 2017. His photos were featured in many newspapers and magazines. In addition to photography, Don loved classic cars, nice shirts, vanilla milk shakes, and lively conversation with his friends.
In addition to Anne, Don is also survived by his former wife Sheila and by his brother Robert Streltzoff (wife Chris), daughter Carrie Reinecke (Craig), sons Kevin Strel (Gisele Delanoy), Sean Strel, and Brandon Strel, and grandchildren Skyler Reinecke, Taran Reinecke, Dylan Strel and Emmarie Hawkstrel. The family will celebrate Don's passion for life, his wonderful sense of humor, and his love of good food and good company when it is safe for us all to be together. We thank Pam Ulibarri, Maria Velasquez, Tanya Stephenson, Dr. Julie Martinez, Dr. Tudor Ocneanu, Dr. Scott Herbert and the staffs at Compassus and La Luz hospices and The Retreat in Rio Rancho for their care.
If you would like to honor Don, in lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the Adaptive Sports Program
or non-profits that benefit people with dementia or cancer.