Donald Shilling
1929 - 2021
Lodi Funeral Home
725 South Fairmont
Lodi, CA
Donald Leroy Shilling, beloved father, grandfather, uncle and friend passed away peacefully at home October 28, 2021 at the ripe old age of 91. With his positive outlook, uncomplaining nature, twinkling blue eyes, dry sense of humor and strong moral sense, he was truly a genuine, honest man.
Don was born in Lodi on December 28, 1929, to Theodore Lawrence (birth name Thomas Laker) Shilling of Odell, Arkansas and Anna Elizabeth Goehring of Zap, North Dakota, whose family was part of the Black Sea Germans from Russia migration.
Don was preceded in death by his parents; both brothers, Theodore D. "Sonny" in 1940 and Edward Albert "Eddie" in 1986; and his wife of 61 years, Patricia Colleen Curran Shilling in 2012.
A child of the Depression, he was raised to work hard, first labeling fruit boxes at the age of four built by his parents at night on the cold docks of the Sacramento River. He worked after school in packing sheds, vineyards and farms. Don drove a tractor before he drove a car, knew to wash with green tomatoes, and to keep a cherry pit in his mouth while picking. He wrapped Christmas presents at Sprouse-Reitz (and never wrapped another present again). Later, Don's summer resume included Lodi icons: Goehring Meat, Valley Lumber, Hotel Lodi, Lodi Cabinets, Supermold and General Mills, where he synchronized the firing of the Cheerio guns so he had 7 minutes to run up to the roof and wave to lucky friends swimming at Lodi Lake.
Graduating in 1948, he drove a tow truck for Flower Garage, was an oiler on a gold dredger on the John Day River, drafted custom homes for Raab Engineering, and surveyed for the US Bureau of Reclamation. In 1951, a newly married man, he settled on a career with Pacific Telephone and Telegraph (later Pacific Bell).
A staunch union man, as a lineman he trailered in 45 foot poles, meeting himself coming and going on gravel switchbacks of the Sierra Nevadas and Yosemite Valley. He climbed several thousands of these poles in heat and cold, rain and wind in 22 years as an installer-repairman (bucket trucks being elsewhere), surviving a high fall from a pole early in his career. He retired as an Inspector Mechanic after 42 years of service.
Don enlisted in the California Army National Guard, Battery D, 143rd Field Artillery in Lodi in 1951, much later transferring to the US Army Reserve 481st Transportation Company (Heavy Boat) in Rio Vista, retiring in 1989.
In his spare time, he raised zins and walnuts on his small ranch, and became a full time caregiver for his family, including KP and laundry duty. His three visits weekly to a Stockton care facility for 14 years earned him an assigned parking space and the employee's access code.
A life-long learner, Don attended Needham School and graduated from Lodi Union High School in 1948, where he had met the love of his life, Patricia Colleen Curran. Don converted to Catholicism to marry Patricia, a union lasting 61 years.
Don and Pat loved dancing, road trips, meeting people and exploring new places. Together they bred and trained champion Golden Retrievers and were founding members of the San Joaquin Dog Training Club. Many a dog learned off leash sit-stay-come-heel under their tutelage.
Successfully creating a life and family together, theirs was a warm, happy and loving home for their three children, and two foster children, and became a neighborhood gathering place. They were caring and very proud parents of Donald D. Shilling of Lodi, Mary D. Bippus of Stockton, and Marguerite A. Shilling of Lodi, and doting grandparents to Matthew W. Bippus of Lodi. They had 12 nieces and nephews and lost count of their grand nieces and nephews.
Don was smart, funny, always good natured, calm in crisis, and blessed with integrity and great common sense. He made friends easily and kept them his entire life. He was generous with his knowledge. He believed in giving second, third and fourth chances. Don could engineer or jerry-rig a solution for almost any mechanical or structural problem. He gave excellent and well thought out advice, but only when asked. Meticulous and a fine craftsman, Don loved woodworking, dogs, John Wayne movies, singing along with honky-tonk, Otter Pops, and dancing with Pat. Mostly he loved his family and friends.
He detested liars and his cell phone, which he could not reliably answer, so he would drive home to return the call from his land line, lamenting the loss of the corner pay phone.
Don never complained or made negative comments, when things went awry his mantra was "these are the golden years".
Don was one of a kind, we treasure our memories of him and will miss him dearly.
Friends are invited to attend a celebration of life on Friday, November 19 at 10am at Lodi Funeral Home, 725 S. Fairmont Avenue. Private inurnment at Lodi Memorial Park with Military honors will follow at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to a charity of your choice, or spend special time with someone you love.
Published by Lodi-News Sentinel from Nov. 16 to Nov. 23, 2021.
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Celebration of Life
Lodi Funeral Home
725 South Fairmont, Lodi, CA
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8 Entries
I am so sorry to hear of the loss of this wonderful man. My father loved him so; we will all miss his kind and generous ways.
Charlotte Goehring Oakes
January 4, 2022
The Shilling Family will always be remembered in our family as great neighbors and family friends for many years on School street. Rest In Peace Don and Pat.
Paul and Paula Jeffrey
December 20, 2021
I worked with Don for many years. He was pleasant to be around.
Wayne (Whip) Wilson
November 29, 2021
Didn't know if I should hit family or friend when it asked how I knew him. To me, he was Dad and I will dearly miss him. There will never be another with his patience, wit, sense of humor and incredible cane. Oh, and that smile and twinkle in his eyes! Yes, he will be missed.
November 18, 2021
I met Don in 1962 in the NG and at Pacific Bell and we were friends ever since. I regret that I cannot attend his memorial services on Friday. I have Parkinson´s disease and will be attending an appointment at Stanford. We have so many memories of Don and Pat that we cannot count but they will always be remembered and talked about with joy and laughter. God bless you at this time.
Kenny and Clarice Seibel
November 18, 2021
Just talked to him a couple of days before, at the mailbox. He was happy and proud of his age. Wonderful neighbor these many years. He is missed. Swanberg's
Norman H Swanberg
November 17, 2021
rest in peace old friend you were a great help when i needed it most.
carl elkins
November 17, 2021
What a Man! You are already missed... Long Live Your Memory
November 16, 2021
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