Donald R. Barnes (1946 - 2015)

  • "Sorry to hear of Don's passing although late on the reply..."
    - Gary Moss
  • "So sorry to hear of Don's passing. I haven't seen Don in..."
    - Kelly Riley
  • "Offering my deepest condolences May the God of all comfort..."
  • "So sorry to read about Don - he was a wonderful person. I..."
    - Terry Ann Homan

Long time Anchorage, Alaska, resident Donald R. Barnes died on May 15, 2015, in his south Anchorage home. A Celebration of Donald's life was held on May 22, 2015, at the Alaska Heritage Aviation Museum. Born in Coral Gables, Fla., on Dec. 30, 1946, and having lived in Panama for several years, Don and his parents arrived in Alaska in the mid-1950s to homestead in the Mat-Su Valley. His father, Al, was a civilian contractor with the military; his mother, Doris, a homemaker. Don's early interests included hunting, fishing and aviation. As a senior at East High, Don flew his father's Champ across Knik Arm to attend school. As a young man, Don enlisted in the Army National Guard, serving as a medic. He worked at Sea/Airmotive on Lake Hood, eventually becoming shop foreman. There he began his career as an A&P mechanic and welder. He also qualified as an under-water welder. Don added more hobbies, including bow hunting, scuba and sky diving (becoming a jump master) and boat building. His 54-foot, cement-hulled sail boat was located on the corner of Old Seward Highway and Dowling in the mid-1970s. It was completed in 1981, and first voyaged from Whittier, Alaska. In the late 1970s, Don worked at Airparts Inc. and met his great love, Wanda Risley. They married in 1980, and together pursued new interests: archery, bowling, silk-screen printing, sailing, wood-working, home renovation, cooking and grandparenting. They were also devoted pet owners. After her death in 2006, Don returned to his love of radio-controlled aircraft and made many deep friendships in the Frontier Fun Flyers. Don was employed by Steel Fab in the 1990s, as a welding inspector. Projects included Anchorage International Airport renovations and the retaining-wall art at Lake Otis and Tudor Road. At the time of his death, he had worked at F. Atlee Dodge for more than 20 years, fabricating specialty aircraft parts. His co-workers knew him as a brilliantly skilled craftsman and generous mentor. On March 8, 2015, Don married Anchorage resident Hsiu Lan Nelson and they traveled to her home in Taiwan for a three-week honeymoon. Don was preceded in death by his wife, Wanda Barnes; and parents, Al and Doris Barnes. He is survived by his, wife Hsiu Lan Nelson; children, Cheri (Risley) Mansfield and Scot Risley; son-in-law, Michael Mansfield; and granddaughters, Kaitlin Mansfield and Tana and Brooke Risley. For those grieving Don's loss, the family would remind them that Don's vitality and gentle spirit can be felt when sitting in traffic contemplating the steel Raven chasing stars, when passing under the soaring ceiling of the airport, when watching a sail silhouetted across the water or when hearing the whine of an airplane engine lifting itself into the sky. Memorials gifts may be made to the Alaska Heritage Aviation Museum, 4721 Aircraft Drive, Anchorage, AK 99502. Please visit Don's obituary and online guestbook at
Funeral Home
Anchorage Funeral Home & Crematory
1800 Dare Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99515
(907) 345-2244
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Published in Anchorage Daily News on Dec. 20, 2015
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