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Donald Laughlin

1922 - 2016
Donald Laughlin Obituary
Donald Laughlin, 93

Donald Eugene Laughlin, 93, died August 19, 2016 following a recent hip fracture and subsequent stroke during surgery. Don was born in New Providence, IA on Dec. 6, 1922 to Melvin and Edna Laughlin. In 1945 he married Lois Wood of Berkeley, CA, his wife of 63 years.

Both birthright Quakers, Don and Lois started a life together committed to social justice, world peace, and environmental concerns. They were life long members of the West Branch Conservative Friends Meeting. Don earned a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University. He later returned to school to earn a Master's degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Iowa while supporting his young family by managing the farm at Scattergood Friends School.

Both Don and Lois devoted many years to Scattergood School where, in addition to being the farm manager, Don taught science and math.

Don worked for more than 30 years in the Cardiology Department at the University of Iowa Hospital. While there, he repaired and invented medical instruments to assist doctors in such things as doppler use during heart surgery and monitoring patients' pacemakers by telephone.

True to his Quaker belief in non-violence, Don was a Conscientious Objector during WWII and later refused to register for the peacetime military draft. As a consequence of his beliefs, Don was prosecuted and imprisoned for 6 months. Years later he was formally pardoned by then President John F. Kennedy. For many years, Don stood with others in a weekly silent vigil in downtown Iowa City to protest the Vietnam War.

Beginning in the early 70's, and for the remainder of his life, Don was committed to the advancement of renewable energy, particularly solar and wind. He was a pioneer in advocating for sustainable, environmentally safe energy. He invented and manufactured a solar heating system for homes, built an electric car and a power generating wind tower at his home, and most recently developed a regulator to directly heat water via a photovoltaic solar system. His final act as an environmental activist occurred just days before his death when he told friends he regretted not having written a letter to Warren Buffet, owner of MidAmerican Energy. With their help, he dictated a letter urging Mr Buffet to use his wealth and influence to advance the use of solar energy. The letter was published in the Des Moines Register Aug 10th.

Don was preceded in death by his lifelong friend and wife Lois, daughter Ruth Laughlin, daughter Janet Cook, and son-in-law Don Cook. He is survived by his siblings Jerry Laughlin and Margaret Guthrie, four children: David Laughlin (Brenda), Martha Laughlin (Kate Warner), Naomi Laughlin and Roger Laughlin (Connie), seven grandchildren: Tanya Lara, Heidi Lehigh, Darren Cook, Tyler Laughlin, Katie Laughlin Juels, Erin Laughlin and Reader Warner, and eight great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 10:00 am Saturday, August 27 at Scattergood Friends School near West Branch, Iowa.

Memorials may be sent to the Scattergood Friends School Foundation at:

Thoughts, memories, condolences may be sent to:
Published in the Press-Citizen on Aug. 22, 2016
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