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Donald F. Shellgren


1930 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Donald F. Shellgren Obituary
April 13, 1930 - May 15, 2016
The fruitful life of Donald F. Shellgren ended on May 15, 2016 at home in the embrace of his wife Fran and surrounded by love. He was born on April 13, 1930 in Jamestown, New York. In high school Don was an honor student, participated in a range of sports and was active in many of the school's clubs, serving as President of most. His friends will not be surprised to learn he and his partner won the 1948 New York State debating championship. He was able to secure a partial college scholarship, but in June 1950 the Korean War began. Because he was single, Don knew it would not be long before he would be drafted. Instead, he chose to enlist in the U. S. Marine Corps. After boot camp and advanced infantry training, he was sent to Korea with the famous First Marine Division. He courageously participated, in freezing subzero temperatures, in the battle at Chosin Reservoir which was a major decisive battle of the war. He was heavily decorated for this time in combat. Following his discharge, Don moved to California to continue his education at UCLA and then went to work for Dun & Bradstreet. Five years later he joined Occidental Life Companies. During his 36 years with Transamerica, Don held a number of significant positions to which he brought an unusual level of creativity. As a Senior Vice President he served as Transamerica's Community and Government Affairs Officer. He worked with and substantially helped charitable and non-profit organizations covering the arts, health, environment, education, the homeless, abused women and sports. He actively participated in community relations when Transamerica was a sponsor of the 1984 Olympics and World Cup Soccer in 1994. Additionally, as a senior officer he played a key role in building and motivating their international marketing field force. Don and Fran have shared an extraordinary love affair for nearly 55 years and it was profoundly apparent to all who met them. All these years they have been at home in Pasadena and involved in many community organizations. They have enthusiastically traveled the world and have been partners in their keen appreciation of Post World War II Contemporary Art. Don had a particular interest in both jazz and opera. He was a true wordsmith, with a great appreciation of cleverly crafted lyrics and the written word in any form. Most especially, he delighted in puns to the dismay of his cherished friends. He never forgot a birthday. He joyfully played tennis several times each week. But Don's true avocation was wine which he studied and collected for 50 years; he believed wine was for sharing and their many friends were grateful to oblige. His family and friends will forever treasure our loving memories of his courage, wit, generosity, kindness, wisdom, compassion, encouragement and irrepressible joy of life.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from May 20 to May 21, 2016
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