Donald Bruce Orosco
1944 - 2020
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Donald Bruce Orosco
March 18, 1944 - May 28, 2020
Donald Orosco was a maverick of vintage motorsport, icon of retail real estate, great father, and all-around hero. Don lived 29 courageous years with bone marrow cancer as multiple myeloma’s longest living survivor. Two months after his 76th birthday, Don left his body to become truly larger than life.

Don was born in 1944 to Josephine Orosco, an elementary school receptionist with an ear-to-ear smile, and Louis Orosco, a produce vendor with a penchant for storytelling. The younger of two boys, Don grew up in El Cerrito where paper routes paid for go-karts ordered out of comic books. Don’s adolescence chronicled the origins of American hot rodding. At age 14, Don began restoring his first Model A Ford. Upon earning his learner’s permit Don and his mother were cited for cruising the streets of Richmond (mom hiding in the back). After organizing his share of clandestine drag races, Don graduated from Harry Ells High School in 1961.

At UC Berkeley, Don was king of revelry as Social Chair at Theta Delta Chi fraternity. After graduating from Cal in 1966 with a degree in Economics, Don went to work as a salesman for Xerox. Promotions took him to Fresno in 1970 where, in 1972, he joined Coldwell Banker as a commercial real estate broker. In 1976 Don launched his own company, DBO Development. DBO (later, ‘The Orosco Group’) became known for building well-designed shopping centers throughout California’s Central Valley and Central Coast, including Sand City’s Edgewater, Stone Creek Village, and Seaside City Center.

Don got his first taste of road racing in 1976 and set a goal: upon completing each real estate project he’d reward himself with a ‘trophy’. Decades later, Don’s trophy case represented one of California’s most noteworthy collections of hot rods, and sports race cars from the 50s and 60s. Pioneer of the ‘barn find’, Don unearthed monumental classics including his tour-de-force: the 1957 Reventlow Scarab.

Don was an absolute terror on a racetrack. He perpetuated the Scarab’s legacy by winning nearly every race he finished from coast to coast. In Europe Don lived out his childhood dream, befriending racing legends like Stirling Moss, and competing at circuits such as Silverstone, the Nürburgring, Monaco, Spa, and Goodwood. Don’s six times driving Italy’s famed ‘Mille Miglia’ 1000-mile rally included three with his sons as co-drivers. After competing in the Historic Automobile Races at Laguna Seca for years, Don moved his family and business to the Monterey Peninsula in 1990. Don retired from racing at age 71 after winning his last six races and setting his fastest lap time.

Don was pivotal in elevating hot rods as a form of moving art and thrice captured First Place at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. But Don never let the accolades go to his head. He was equally as happy at a Turlock swap meet as at the Monaco Historique. A true gentleman, Don volunteered his time freely in long conversations with automotive aficionados from all walks of life.

Don was 47 when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given two years to live. But Don had no ‘quit’ in him. Don was a warrior. Throughout his life, he demonstrated profound inner strength and dogged determination to persevere. He and his doctors bravely experimented with new protocols, which are now helping multiple myeloma patients today. Amid his battle with the disease, Don routinely went out of his way to help fellow cancer patients with a message of hope and self-actualization. His ‘can do’ attitude was infectious.

Don married his college sweetheart, Mary Kay Webber in 1968. Together they raised three sons whom they taught to look after each other and live with conviction. Don’s strength made them feel safe, his intelligence taught them to think for themselves, his lofty standards pushed them to reach beyond their limits, and his love of family inspired seven grandchildren. Don and Mary Kay separated in 2009. Don went on to marry his best friend and soulmate Kelley Carpenter, with whom he shared many joy-filled years.

In all circles, Don was loved for his wicked sense of humor and a knack for mischief. Favorite memories among his sons include Don yelling “Rémy Julienne!!!” (the French stunt driver) just before hitting the gas and yanking the wheel of the family Wagoneer, sending it pirouetting across frozen parking lots into snowy embankments. He never missed an opportunity to invite laughter into the lives of others. Don had a wild, indomitable spirit. He lit a fire in all he touched.

Don is survived by his wife Kelley; his sons and their wives: Patrick (Mandy), Chris (Lisa), Brian (Michele); his grandchildren Élan, Reid, Briggs, Tyler, Xander, Josephine and Luci; his former wife Mary Kay; and his brother James.

Those wishing to honor his memory may consider supporting multiple myeloma research via The Don Orosco Tribute Fund at The City of Hope (866) 683-4673. Plans for a celebration of life are pending.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Jun. 26 to Jun. 28, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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25 entries
July 7, 2020
I can't believe Don won't be walking back into the office. It was an absolute pleasure working for him for the past 3 1/2 years. I will miss him greatly - I already do.
Juanita Turner
Coworker
July 1, 2020
I met Don in the early 80s when he had the "brick yard" in fresno and became friends, doing work on a few of his cars a Maserati birdcage and a Lotus.
I remember when he bought the Scarab he was like a guy that found the "holy grail " and doing work on the Engine for it.
Sorry to hear about his passing.
Dave Murdock
July 1, 2020
I last saw Don at a Sand City barbecue in May, 2019. I was busy circulating and saying "hello" to friends and I said to myself I will say "hello" to Don before I leave. Don left before I could say "hello". And now he has left before I can say "goodbye". As a planning director and city manager I knew Don as a professional commercial developer. He was the kind of professional who would gladly conform to city standards, whatever they may be, and would then go the extra mile to insure his project came to fruition. He would never give up. He was also that kind of human being. To paraphrase Churchill, he would "never, never, never give up" for a cause he thought worthy. It was a privilege knowing him, and working with him.
Steve Matarazzo
July 1, 2020
Don and I became friends in 1978 at the track.....We spent the next five years racing and drinking together....reliving the years that we both missed. Don was always following me in moving up the ladder of fabulous vintage race cars. A highlight of our careers was Sebring in the early eighties where we were on the podium with Moss....Skouras.Moss and Orosco. Later I facilitated his purchase of the street Scarab from Lance Reventlow as I was an usher in Lances wedding.. I dropped out of the racing scene in 1983 and Don and I saw little of each other but the connection and affection was never broken. We will be connected forever and I grieve his loss. Tommy Skouras
Tommy Skouras
July 1, 2020
I was so sad to learn of Dons passing. Don Orosco was a pioneer in real estate, he was a man I looked up to and spoke with about real estate throughout my career, Ive had several fantastic mentors in my life including my father, but Don was also a mentor, he was always willing to offer advice and provide direction. Our community has lost a great man that is responsible for bringing so much to this peninsula. So many of us visit, or shop every day at DBO developed properties and may not even realize it. Ill never forget the time he took me on a tour of his office and all his cars, I had no idea this real estate icon had such a passion for cars. My sincere condolences go out to all the Orosco family during this time, I cant imagine how difficult it must be for you all. I hope you know, your Don impacted so many lives, he will be missed!
Jeff Davi
July 1, 2020
Myself and my Father Cotton Werksman are very saddened at the news that Don has passed away. I had limited interactions with Don but always pleasant. My Father and Don were good friends and worked together on many Ardun projects over the years. Our entire family sends it's thoughts and prayers to the Orosco family.....Godspeed Don....
Matt Werksman
July 1, 2020
He will be missed by all of us. May God bless and welcome him.
steven pistole
Friend
June 30, 2020
We are so sadden to know that Don is no longer walking(racing) among us. He was a wonderful man, wonderful husband to you, Kelley, and a wonderful friend to us. We miss him. Love, Elece & Tom
Tom and Elece Leverone
June 30, 2020
I never had the pleasure of meeting Don , but my brother Sal DiMaggio held a great fondness for him, needless to say, the news of Dons passing was a shock! Our sincerest condolences to the Orosco family, and May Don Rest In Peace!
Carolyn DiMaggio
June 30, 2020
I was sad to learn this morning, of Don Orosco's passing. We met, every year at Goodwood's Revival Race meeting in England, where he raced his superbly presented Scarab racing cars. We ran a business called Mithril Racing which was located on-site at Goodwood. We helped him with the line and braking points etc and thereafter Don would pass the time with us in our office when he wasn't on track. He was great company and as car guys, we all enjoyed his easy charm and amusing anecdotes. He took obvious pride in introducing us to Patrick who joined him in the latter years.
We send our condolences to the entire Orosco family and their friends.
Chris Taylor
June 30, 2020
I am so very sorry to hear of Don passing. I had the pleasure of working for him years ago and getting my start in the automotive industry. His success was no surprise as I got to know him and got to see his drive and determination first hand. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work for such a legend.

Thank you Don, Rest in Peace.
Boris Dzakula
June 30, 2020
I am saddened to hear of Dons passing. He fought a heroic fight for a long, long time. Decades ago I bought a wonderful RSK Porsche from Don and took it to Sonoma for its first vintage race outing , my first time on that track. . I soon found I was waaay over my head to run the K for the first time and on that track for the first time! Don quickly and kindly mentored me through the introduction and made me feel at home. He was as competitive and passionate as anybody could be and a great driver. I will miss the gentle man he was underneath it all.
Greg Johnson
June 29, 2020
Don will always be remembered by me as a business mentor whom I had the pleasure of working with for over 4 decades. We met at a racetrack and the rest was history. I am truely saddened by his passing. He was my friend. He will be missed. God bless you Don. Godspeed!
Bob Estrada
Friend
June 29, 2020
My sincere condolences to the entire Orosco family following the loss of Don a few days ago. I did not know him especially well, but I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times when he was over racing in Europe with his Scarabs.

In particular, I shall be forever indebted to him for the kind representations he made to my late father, David Ham, after I had just been involved in an accident at Silverstone his beloved Lister Jaguar. My father was ready to (uncharacteristically) "let rip" at me for denting his car, when Don intervened and reassured him that it wasn't my fault at all - as an errant Aston Martin had harpooned me from behind at the first turn, on the first lap of my race.

Reasoning that someone of Don's knowledge and experience knew what he was talking about, my father immediately calmed down and was altogether more sympathetic to my situation.

I hope that my father - sadly lost to us four years ago - and Don are enjoying a beer together somewhere now, and are catching up on old times.

Thank you Don, and Godspeed.

Simon Ham,
London, UK.
Simon Ham
Friend
June 29, 2020
Pat, Chris and family, so saddened to learn of your dads passing. Haven't seen you all for some time but have great memories of you both and was always so appreciate of Don's willingness to take time to come to Stanford and share his knowledge with students. He had a wonderful and prideful career and of course was a giant in the classic car world. A truly special and good man which is the best we all can hope for in this life. My thoughts are with you.
Radford Hall
Friend
June 29, 2020
Always fun to be with and talk too. He will be missed.
Dave Paynter
Acquaintance
June 29, 2020
i was one of the luckiest guys to have had the pleasure to have conversations with Don over the past year. Don would come over to my shop and we would talk about all kinds of things sometimes hours at a time . He will be missed!
Max Kammerer
Acquaintance
June 29, 2020
So saddened to learn of Don's passing. A real gentleman, sportsman and a man possessed with the spirit of life. He will be missed by all who were fortunate enough to know him. Our sincerest condolences to his family.
Phil and Linda Scheinberg
Phil and Linda Scheinberg
Friend
June 28, 2020
Wally Thomason
Friend
June 28, 2020
Patrick and Family, I send my sincere condolences. Don was a true gentleman, and with a real care for our community. He treated us from the Seaside Rotary Club to a wonderful afternoon, showing us the many cars, telling us the stories behind each one, and taking us through every step in restoring the beautiful classics he loved. His sense of humor was also keen, as after Patrick had beaten him in a race, he contacted the Rotary Club and asked if we could fine him a huge amount for beating his father. Of course, in Rotary tradition, we obliged Don, and he, of course, paid the huge fine levied on his son, who was a great member of the club. Don was fun, serious, caring, and extremely generous. He will be mentioned at our next Rotary meeting, as your loss, is everyone's loss.
David Casas
Friend
June 28, 2020
Always a true gentleman and friend
Speed Thomas
Friend
June 27, 2020
Don inspired others to "reach for the stars"....although I never met him personally his story is treasured for others to model..... James, his brother, often talked of him....
Katherine Cook
Acquaintance
June 27, 2020
After four decades I will be miss Don forever. He was so funny, smart, interesting thoughtful and above all, brave. We had good times both away and at the tracks. Say hi to Michael Lynch, Phil, Pete Lovely, & Sir Stirling when you get to that racetrack in the sky. We will be saluting you!
Sandra Griswold
June 26, 2020
Thank you for instilling a strong love for vintage sports cars, for being an inspiring uncle and all the rides (the Scarab was way better than the Dino). Miss you.
Cameron C Abbott
Family
June 26, 2020
We have so many wonderful memories of racing with Don as well parties and dinners together. We will truly miss him. Sending love and prayers to the family. Wishing you peace during this time and always
Debbie and Doug Sallen
Friend
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