Don Liska, 85, died at home after a brief illness with Alice, his wife of 59 years, by his side.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Don received his Bachelor and Master Degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin. It was there that he met Alice. Don and Alice were avid members of the UofW Hoofers, an outdoor enthusiast club where they discovered their love of climbing and the outdoors. Don was drafted into the US Army immediately upon his graduation and served for 2 years.
Don began his career as an Engineer in Culver City, CA at Hughes Aircraft. They moved on to Seattle, WA to work at Boeing. During this time he and Alice lived in a trailer which had minimal indoor plumbing. This "temporary" living arrangement lasted for 10 years and is a testament to both Don and Alice's hardiness, sense of adventure and devotion to each other.
Don took a staff position at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1966 and with Alice, immediately joined the Los Alamos Mountaineers. He became a well respected multifaceted engineer designing and building particle accelerators. His career led him to sabbaticals at Rutherford Laboratory in England and Cern in Geneva Switzerland. Don retired in 1993 after 27 years of service.
He loved New Mexico not only because of his rewarding career at the Lab but also because of its natural beauty and the outdoor adventures that were readily available to him. He was a member of the American Alpine Club for many years and became an honorary lifetime member of the Los Alamos Mountaineers about 10 years ago. He was one of the strongest and most active members with many first ascents to his credit. Both he and Alice were enthusiastic mountaineers, rock climbers, backpackers, down hill and cross country skiers, hikers, cyclists, and canoeists. Additionally Don was passionate about folk dancing, politics, world travel, US and world history, the environment and animals. He greeted everybody with a warm smile and always made you feel welcome and important.
Don once said, "When we think back on our lives, it's the exciting trips and outdoor adventures that stand out. Not the many days in the office." Don will be missed by his countless friends and acquaintances whose lives he has touched and influenced.
A celebration of Don's life and interment of his ashes at Santa Fe National Cemetery will both be announced at a later date in anticipation of warmer weather. Hopefully many of those who knew Don will participate. In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to your favorite environmental or animal rescue cause.
Published in Los Alamos Monitor from Jan. 7 to Jan. 29, 2015.