Donald Gene DeBode, 89, of Oak Harbor, WA, passed away at home on August 30, 2023 with family at his side.
Don was born on April 3, 1934 in Bowman, ND, and was the eldest child of Joe and Helen DeBode. Sister Dorthy and brother Joe completed the family. Don was a happy and active boy who played sports, braved the snowy winters and helped his parents with their hotel, restaurant and bakery in their small town. As a teenager, he discovered his passion for flying through his Uncle Wilbur and earned his pilot’s license. He met his future wife, Patricia Kulas, in the 4th grade and graduated from Bowman High School in 1952.
Don went off to study geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City. He knew that he wanted to be a Navy pilot and after three years of college he left to start flight training as a Naval Aviation Cadet in Pensacola, FL. He drove back to Bowman in December 1956 to marry Patricia and attend the 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration of his grandparents, Earl and Lena Brewer.
Don and Patricia started their married life in Hutchison,KS, where Don was taking advanced flight training. Over his 30 year naval career they were stationed in: Brunswick, ME, Patrol Squadron 21; Monterey, CA, Naval Post Graduate School; Moffett Field, CA, Patrol Squadron 46; South Vietnam, Commander Navy Forces; Moffett Field, CA, Patrol Squadron 31; Newport, RI, Naval War College; Brunswick, ME, Patrol Squadron 8; Denver, CO, Naval Recruitment District; Arlington, VA, Naval Recruitment District; Moffett Field, CA, CRPWP; Whidbey Island, WA, Commandant Naval Air Reserve. Don completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Monterey, CA, at the Naval Post Graduate School. He retired from the Navy on February 1,1985 from the Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island.
The DeBodes had three children, Debra, Douglas and Gary, and the family enjoyed many adventures together living and traveling throughout the U.S. After his retirement, Don started a new career with several partners to build and own hotels in Oak Harbor and Burlington, WA. Don and Pat were world travelers, visiting Cabo San Lucas, MX, regularly for over 30 years, as well as taking many cruises in Europe, and in the Caribbean, the Panama Canal and to Alaska.
Don is survived by his wife of 66 years, Patricia, his three children, Debra (Dale Pickard), Douglas (Sandy) and Gary (Archie Gottesman) DeBode; seven grandchildren: Anders Knospe; Christopher, Jason (Tasha) and Bradley (Chelsie) DeBode; Lilli, Sophie, and Ella DeBode; and 6 month old great- granddaughter, Emberlyn DeBode. He also leaves behind siblings Dorothy Dishman and Joe, sister-in-law Linda Gwinn, many nieces, nephews and friends. He was predeceased by his parents and his brothers-in-law, Alan Kulas, Bill Dishman and Terry Gwinn.
A memorial service honoring Don will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Oak Harbor at 11:00 am on Saturday, September 30. A light lunch reception hosted by his friends and business partners, Bob Lundstrom and Dan Mitzel, for family, friends and employees will be held at the Best Western Plus Oak Harbor at 1:00 pm, following the memorial service. Don will be buried with military honors at a later date.