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Donald Lustenberger


1927 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Donald Fredrick Lustenberger

Don Lustenberger passed away peacefully on April 5, 2019, at the age of 91. Born August 14, 1927, to Fred and Justine (Bailey) Lustenberger, Don was the younger of two sons and a third generation San Franciscan who was raised in the Mission District. His older brother, Dale Robert Lustenberger, was killed in action while serving in the Navy during World War II.
Like his older brother, Don enlisted in the US Navy at the age of 17. During his service aboard the USS Monterey, his ship was engaged in numerous combat operations in the Pacific Theatre of the war. On one such occasion, the ship sustained major damage from enemy dive bombers, killing almost half of its crew and requiring it to be towed back to Seattle for repairs. In less than a month, he, his shipmates, and the Monterey were back in the war zone for the duration. On Don's 18th Birthday the war ended, and he was honorably discharged the following year.
Upon Don's discharge from the Navy, he completed his apprenticeship as an automobile mechanic, becoming, at age 18, the youngest journeyman mechanic at that time in San Francisco. Although he became highly capable at his craft, and was a sought-after mechanic by several of the local shops, he decided he did not want to follow in his father's footsteps and joined the San Francisco Fire Department in 1950. Don, or "Lusty" as he was known by his Fire Department brethren, served with distinction for 27 years until his retirement in 1977, having risen to the rank of Chief's Operator. Don loved being a fireman and, as a native son, was proud to serve the City and County of San Francisco; however, as both his family and ambitions grew, he took a friend's advice and started working in the home remodeling and construction business in the late 1950s. Don became a licensed general contractor in 1967 and began operating his own construction business. Starting with residential remodels and additions, Don's company was soon building new homes, apartment and townhome buildings, and commercial structures. He hung up his overalls at the age of 70 after building his beloved wife, Mary, her dream home.
Don met the love of his life, Mary Coen, at a local youth group dance in 1947. They were married a few months later and spent nearly 69 loving years together until Mary's passing in 2016. Together they raised six children, traveled to many places around the world, played many a game of golf, and made many endearing and lasting friendships over the years. Don adored Mary and dutifully and lovingly cared for her during the last three years of her life as her health declined and she could no longer care for herself.
As a way to give back and serve his community, Don joined the Millbrae Lion's Club in 1973, becoming its president in 1982, and later District Governor (4C-4) in 1989. From the first day he joined he was always passionate about his service and dedicated to the cause of Lionism. Don was also an avid golfer, fisherman, and occasional hunter. He was a hardworking man of integrity who loved his family, his friends, his community, and his country.
Don is survived by his daughters Karen Baxter (Scott) of San Mateo, CA, Donna Caputo (Frank) of Pleasant Grove, CA, and Susan Bento (Frank) of Rochester Hills, MI; Sons Dale (Heidi) of Belmont, CA, Fred of Roseville, CA, and Craig (Kelly) of Foster City, CA; loving grandchildren Michelle Harrison, Anthony and Mary Caputo, Gina Sanfilippo, Jennifer Crerar, Jarrod and Jessica Bento, Donald, Kenneth, Katarina, Kylie, Michael, Eric and Bridget Lustenberger; and many great grandchildren, nephews and nieces. Don was predeceased by his wife, Mary Theresa Lustenberger (nee Coen), brother, Dale Robert Lustenberger, and grandson, Donald Thomas Sanfilippo. The family wishes to thank the staff of Sunrise of Rocklin for the exceptional and loving care they provided Don during the last two years of his life.
Family and friends may visit on Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 2:00 PM with a Vigil Service at 4:00 PM at the Chapel of the Highlands, 194 Millwood Drive at El Camino Real in Millbrae. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Monday, April 15, 2019 at 11:00 AM at St. Dunstan Catholic Church, 1133 Broadway in Millbrae. Committal to follow at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Mr. Lustenberger's memory may be made to the Lions Eye Foundation, P.O. Box 7999, San Francisco, CA 94120 or www.lionseyefoundation.com.

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Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Apr. 10, 2019
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