Posted by: donrhymer | November 29, 2012

Til Death Do Us Part

My sweet husband, the love of my life, passed away early Wednesday morning. We had been married 29 years, 6 months, and 7 days, and I’m left with a gaping hole in my heart. He was the strongest, most generous and most honest person I’ve ever known. Oh yeah, and he was funny too.

He had just spent one week at UCLA Medical Center, and one week at USC Keck Hospital. He had to drop the clinical trial he was participating in. He was poked and prodded, x-rayed and tested more in those twelve days than most of us will be in our lifetime. And still he kept going. We realized we weren’t going to win the war, but maybe we could fight some small battles and he would get to go home for his remaining days or weeks.

After surgery for a procedure we hoped would send Don home, he came out on the other side with a breathing tube. I sat on his bed with him, and because he couldn’t talk, was writing questions on a legal pad. After he understood what had happened, he wrote “Focus on the good”. Even from a bed in the ICU he was urging his family to remember the many blessings we have, and to give each other grace. He came off the ventilator that morning.

His last day, Tuesday, was a gift. Though he was still in ICU, he felt a little better and was more himself than he had been in weeks. He laughed and joked with us. He watched TV. His eyes were bright. But his lungs gave out on him early Wednesday morning with Andrew, Molly, Carrie and me by his side, as well as our best friends Dave and Kathy Gallagher. He was peaceful and not in any pain. We were able to experience a sacred time with him, for which I’ll always be grateful.

Through Don’s blog, he pulled back the curtain just a bit to give us a glimpse behind his humor to the pain he dealt with every day – both emotionally and physically. But it was only a glimpse, because, true to his nature, he was protecting us from really seeing the horror of what this cancer was doing to his body. He always said that his greatest sadness in this journey was the pain he caused me, our kids, and our friends and family.

Don’s blog provided him a creative outlet, as well as a bit of sanity in this insane experience. Thank you to all of you who faithfully read it, commented on it, or shared it with friends. He got so much satisfaction when someone going through a similar situation would contact him to say how much the blog had helped them. But I don’t think Don was trying to be inspirational. I think he was just trying to be honest. He was just being himself.

We will be celebrating Don’s life this Monday. We’d love for you to join us.

-Kate

Memorial Service

Monday, December 3rd

2 PM

La Canada Presbyterian Church

626 Foothill Blvd, La Canada, CA 91011

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Responses

  1. We love you and have your family in our thoughts and prayers. Don was a wonderful man who was a blessing to so many.

  2. Kate, that is such a beautiful sincere tribute….xo

    Sent from my iPad

  3. Oh my Kate. That is the most beautiful thing I have ever read. The Lord has gifted you as well as Don with communicating through words. Thank you so much for posting this, for letting us enter in just a bit, and for letting us see the grace of God. We are sad for you and your children– what an incredible loss. I know you will all miss him terribly. I am so sorry dear friend. Please know that there are many who love you and are praying for you. Don was such an inspiration. His blog entries were incredible… how he could be so honest and so funny during this journey is nothing short of a miracle. I am so blessed and grateful to have been a part through this.
    Love to all of you

  4. Such a lovely post Kate and I love the picture. You know how we feel and what an honor it has been to walk along the path with you.

  5. We’ll miss you Don. You truly are a good guy. You set an example to us all on how life should be lived. I’ll miss your wisdom on raising kids. Love you man. Say hi to the Big Guy for me.

  6. Kate and family, i have followed Dons journey over this last year and laughed with him and criedwith him, but mostly, sat in awe of his courage. What a cross you have all had to bear. His blog, and your last entry, are a window into each of our humanity, really what it mens to walk this earth as spiritual beings in physical bodies. I send you love and prayers in this time of deep grief.

  7. So beautiful, Kate. When the sadness lifts, we will forever think of Don as a 51-year-long gift from God. We are richer for having shared life with him. We love you and the kids so much.

  8. Beyond words to say how grateful our paths crossed. Will carry memories with us forever! Love you guys! Hope to see you Monday.., prayers til then!

  9. Oh my gosh, Kate. That was beautifully written.
    God Bless you and your family.

  10. We wish we could have know Don better and longer. His life was cut way too short but he leaves behind memories of a lifetime for all through his work. My kids loves his movies and we adults laugh joyfully too. Know that Don is at peace now and expects you and the kids (young adults!) to live life to the fullest.
    We are only a hop skip jump away…if you ever need anything…The Perez Family- Lee, Eileen, Shelby and Kayla.

  11. We love you, Kate. Melissa and I are thinking of all of you… and always of Don.

  12. Kate, i can’t really find the words to say. You and Don are so deeply rooted in my heart and this is so painful. I love both of you so much and i treasure all the memories! my prayers are with you and the kids! Thank you Don, i will be forever grateful to you! Until we meet again..

  13. Thank you Kate, for sharing this time with us in such a beautifully written story. Don touched many, many lives with his grit and determination and yes, his humor. My prayers are with your family as you cope with this loss. I’ve followed Don’s journey thru his blog and thru his sister, Kelly, my wonderful daughter-in-law. Wish I could be there to celebrate his life with you on Monday, but my thoughts and prayers will be.
    Barb

  14. I love you Kate!

  15. Oh Kate. Don’s courage, humor, and willingness to share his journey in the face of all that he endured is astounding. Your words tonight are so moving. Thirty years of marriage to your best friend and three children who are beautiful blends of you and Don. Amazing gifts. My heart goes out to all of us. Loving you all.

  16. Kate,

    I am so so sorry to hear of Don’s struggle with cancer and his recent passing. I remember him exactly as you describe, so funny, so kind, so genuine. When I first met him we were starting the new area Young Life ministry and I noticed he was quiet amongst outgoing Young Life people all chatting it up to get to know one another. I wasn’t quite sure what to think of him then, (not sure if he liked me or if I liked him:), not knowing yet that he was such a humble person who chose his words wisely. He became one of my favorite people, and my most trusted committee mentor. His advice and insight shaped me. And he was so generous and encouraging to Scott and me – us young newlywed young life leaders trying to figure out our way in life – so generous, and so kind.

    When I daydream about what our life would be like if we moved back to California, I always picture you both as our mentors, just able to watch and gain wisdom on how you go about encouraging a great marriage, faith, family and friendships. You have lived it! Your intentionality with the Gallaghers is something I have always admired too – (I talk about these great people I once knew and how fun it would be to move somewhere with my favorite people someday:)

    My heart just aches that he is gone, for you, for your Andrew, Molly, and Carrie. Your husband and father was truly a unique soul in the world who blessed me in simple and profound ways. I aspire to be more like him and will carry his story with me. Blessings and Love to you!

    Heather

  17. Kate,
    Thank you for sharing a bit of Don’s time with me this summer. I will always be grateful for the few hours I had to meet with my former college roommate and old friend. Both of you are inspirational examples of grace.
    Love,
    Carey

  18. Oh God, just read your blog and find myself crying my eyes out. I don’t know you or Don just read his blogs and smiled each time. My husband is the love of my life and he also has head/neck cancer and every word you wrote of your dear sweet husband reminded me of mine.

    I greive for you and your family. I know love lives on…it can never die because it is God’s gift to us.,..love is heaven sent.

    I am sorry for all you , your husband and your children endured. I will miss reading Don’s blogs but most of all am so sad that he is gone from your lives. One thing I know also is if your husband is like mine, which it sounds like he is, you were blessed every moment he was in your life. Special people like him aren’t easy to find and you , like me, have the most blessed gift on this planet. I am sorry for rambling on but your pain is shared by me in some small way because your story is my story. Someday, your love will be reunited and never be separated again. That is my belef.

    Again, you and your family are in my heart and prayers. So, so sorry.

    Joan Przada

  19. Kate,
    Our heart goes out to you, Andrew, Molly and Carrie. Thank you for taking such good care of Don. He has been a great friend over the past 38 years. I will truly miss him. Please know that Vickie and I will continue to lift you all up in prayer. God’s grace and peace be with you.
    Love,
    David

  20. Kate,
    Thank you for sharing your special moments with us. I admire your strength… I know you don’t have much choice and or certainly don’t want to be strong…please know I’m praying for you and the kids. For as long as I’ve know Kelly (20+ years). I have looked up to Don as a pseudo big brother. His sense of humor, dedication to family, ability to find the positive in things, and the sense of peace he exuded when I met him, are what made him so special. The Rhymer family has touched so many, and we are sending love. We will miss him, and the world will never be the same….
    Love,
    Rita

  21. Kate,
    Our hearts go out to you, Andrew, Molly and Carrie. Don’s courage and positive outlook in the face of such adversity was a true inspiration to all of us. We thank you for allowing us to share in this glimpse of your lives these past few years. You have a beautiful and strong family and we are so grateful for the friendship between John and Andrew. May God bless and keep you.
    Sincerely,
    Monica and Bruce Daigle & Family

  22. Kate,
    Thank you for sharing Don with us all these months. I found such strength and encouragement by his humorous and heartfelt posts in the midst of such a difficult situation. I’ve been praying for Don ever since I started reading his blog and lately have been led to pray for peace for him and for you and the kids. I’m continuing to lift you up in prayer!! I wish I could be there with you to celebrate his life. I’ll always think of him at JMU being his crazy, lovable self!! I love you Kate. Mary

  23. Kate:

    What a beautiful tribute to your husband. I know there will be many more tributes in days to come, but maybe none as poignant as this. Just as Don allowed us a little peek into his journey through this blog, you continued that by giving us a peek into his last days in such a beautiful way. Thanks for allowing us into your lives. We are thinking of you and keeping you in our prayers.

    Lisa

  24. Kate – Don was also a lucky man and he knew it. You made his life incredible.

  25. Dear Kate,

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I work in Charlotte with Kelly and I feel I have come to know Don through her and his blog. I loved his remarkable wit and sense of humor and most of all his courage. I send prayers to California for you and your beautiful family. We love Kelly here, and promise to take good care of her. She loved Don very very much.

    Elaine Haskell

  26. Kate, “Little Don” was my cousin. My mother was Aunt Rubye, Aunt Christine’s baby sister. Big Don was more like a brother to me than a cousin. Even though under sad circumstances, I am so glad I got to see Don 2 years ago and give him one last hug! My heart is broken for all of you! Believe me, he was met was arms wide open by all the family waiting for him!

  27. Don was our cousin, who gallantly went to find his fame, and we from SC admired his success. To the family, he’ll be remembered as “Little Don,” whose humor and talent had such a great impact. You are all in our thoughts.
    Bonnie (Rubye’s granddaughter)

  28. Kate,
    Please accept my condolences on the loss of your wonderful husband. God Bless you and may his spirit continue to uplift you.

  29. Dear Kate: I never met Don, we had a few short emails, that’s all. But I found his blog when I was going through my own cancer hell. He really helped me, his spirit and optimism, and his sense of humor, they all mattered. Just thought you should know that he made a difference in the life of a complete stranger.

    (and he said he liked my writing!! hugest compliment a person can give!!)

    Don–enjoy travelling the universe. I’m sure you’ll find something great to write about….

    Best,

    Dan

  30. Kate:
    Alesia and I are thankful to have known Don, and we are praying for God’s comfort to you and your family. Sam and Alesia Burnette

  31. Kate:
    Thank you for loving Don, for providing a safe, sure place for him to be himself. His honesty and humor in life, and in his sharing of this terrible ordeal, were really only possible because he knew who he was through your love and the love of the kids. We will continue to pray for your family as you grieve and miss Don.

    Rich

  32. I am deeply saddened by Don’s passing, but encouraged by Kate’s post and the responses of others.

    I first met the Rhymers when I came on Young Life staff and they were committee members for the area. I was always impressed how their home was constantly open to YL kids and leaders alike, and as a film student majoring in screenwriting, I was excited for the chance to rub elbows with Don.

    Eventually, I learned how many other people…even other YL leaders…had passed Don their scripts to read. This made me nervous and kept me from ever discussing my work or showing him any pages. We did talk movies a lot…though his opinions mostly sounded like those of a fan and not a successful writer/producer. He always seemed more interested to talk about my new marriage, or how YL was going, anyway.

    As I began the undertaking of writing and directing my senior thesis short film, part of the assignment was to seek out someone to help guide us through the year-long process. I sheepishly approached Don and he gladly accepted. The insight and guidance Don provided as I stumbled my way through that journey had a profound impact, not only on my film, but on me.

    Don was doing the one thing I’d always dreamed of doing…but he took a lot of the shine off it. He made it real. Screenwriting was his job. He was good at it. Sure he was wealthy and had nice things, but his was far from the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle.

    His marriage, his family, his faith, his community…these were Don’s passions and priorities. He imparted this to me as much through his actions as his words.

    He was my mentor and my friend. My thoughts are with his family.

    Andrew

  33. Kate:

    Alesia and I are thankful to have known Don, and we are praying for God to comfort you and your family. Sam and Alesia Burnette

  34. Word is spreading of this news among those who have been a part of New Directions over the years. Life is precious, but heaven is eternal. May you and your family both feel and know the Lord’s love for you and your family during this time, Kate.
    In His love,
    Joseph Williams

  35. Dear Kate, Words cannot adequately express our grieving at times like this. After losing my mom I know what true loss is and although time does heal there is always that yearning to hear them, touch them, hold them. And it just comes in waves and you never know when one is going to hit you.
    I was in Kirsten’s Room this morning, on her bookcase is the beautiful saying “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
    ― A.A. Milne
    I thought of you and Carrie and know Don is forever in our hearts!
    Love Connie and Kirsten

  36. Kate-Thank you for sharing this. I had not seen Don in many years, but Ken and David Nichols kept me posted. I am so sorry that he had to suffer, but the way he handled it really showed us all what a great person he was. There really are no adequate words at a time like this. Just know that you are not alone. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Winifred Neisser

  37. Sweet Kate,
    You, Don and your family have been a true testimony to family love and God’s grace. Knowing you and Don will always be one of my greatest blessings as surely so to many others. Heaven is now just that much more wonderful a place!
    Holly

  38. Kate,

    GOD BLESS YOU & YOUR FAMILY!

    YOUR HUSBAND WAS A GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT & EXAMPLE TO ME IN MY OWN BATTLE WITH CANCER.

    GEORGE LANDES

  39. Kate, I haven’t seen your or Don in many years — too many years — but I often reflect on all the wonderful times I shared with him during our years at “Evening Shade.” Don was a great employer, mentor, friend, video game playmate and instigator and he’ll be truly missed. I’ll continue to treasure my memories, though, and wish you and your family all my heartfelt best.

  40. Don was a dear, sweet man. I will miss having him in my life. I met him on the short-lived “Bagdad Cafe” and eventually followed him to “Evening Shade” where he taught me both comedy and patience. I am grateful to have known him. My heart goes out to all those he left behind.

  41. Kate,

    There are no words….our love and prayers are with you.

    Jane

  42. Kate:
    It has been a long time since I have seen you and Don, but I will always remember the relationship the two of you shared with your friends. You gave me a model for parenting that I used as a template with my girls.
    I like Don for a variety of reasons his sense of humor was as my own, his personal familial rootlessness was similiar to mine and then he had many attributes I lacked, but wanted. What I will miss most about Don he is (was) my poster boy (man) of what God needs, demands and wants every male Chistian to be, or be like.
    Kate, Andrew, Carrie and Mollie may our Lord continue to comfort your every need. For Andrew, Carrie and Mollie lock your memories of your father deep into your hearts; whereas, we friends of your father will always remember him as a wonderful Christian man. We were very lucky to share just a part of Don with you.
    Don you wonderful man, rest in God’s loving embrace until we all are together again.

    Love,
    Matthew

  43. Kate,
    I am deeply sadden to hear of Don’s passing. I am a long lost friend from many, many years ago when we were teenagers and traveled and sang with The New Directions Evangelist Ministry – located here in Burlington, North Carolina. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.
    Marie Curry Alston

  44. This was a really beautiful post Kate. Love you and your family so much!

  45. The world is now a little less funny. Thanks for sharing your gift with us, Don.

  46. Kate…thanks for being so faithful and for staying true to your love, Don for all these years…’till death. YOU are a rock. I am proud to know you. I love you….may you be surrounded by God’s peace and grace…even in this darkest hour. We will all miss Don…his honest, funny, easygoing way…our early years together were so precious.
    I love you, n xo

  47. Kate -what beautiful words at such a difficult time. I have marveled at how Don could write with so much humor about something that was so ugly. A true gift. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  48. An exceptionally touching tribute.

    I unfortunately never got the chance to meet Don, but as a JMU alum, he was spoken of – quite often – in the most glowing and reverent terms. He was spoken of in the way we wish we all were once we left the room. He was a tremendous role model to those of us who chose to take up the writing profession and he was a paragon of grace in the way in which he used this blog to deal with his illness.

    My sincere condolences for your loss, but I can’t even imagine how proud you all must feel to have been a part of his life.

  49. Dear Kate,
    Your precious words were wonderful. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you, Andrew, Carrie and Mollie as you progress through the grieving and missing-him part. The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. We pray that you will not be afraid or discouraged.
    Much love in Christ,
    Patt and J.L.

  50. Kate, thank you. Eric and I are touched by your words. You remain in our prayers now as you have been for the last several weeks.

  51. I suppose it’s unfair to say it to someone who was with him throughout all of this, but I honestly was shocked to hear about this today. In the early days of the Internet, I found Don on the CompuServe screenwriting forum and we became friends, in that Internet way one can be friends without actually knowing one another. He was in the process of selling “Carpool” and I lived vicariously through that. I got out of screenwriting for awhile after that, and so lost contact. But he was so supportive and so helpful, I really have thought of him since as one of my first inspirations, and I know I wouldn’t have the success in screenwriting I have today without his advice. He was a heck of a guy and I’m sorry it took his passing for me to finally get back in touch. Thanks, Don, and my best to you and the family, Kate.

  52. Dear Kate,

    Such a beautiful tribute to Don, your soul mate. He indeed was an amazing man and will be so missed. I pray that the Lord will carry you, Andrew, Mollie and Carrie on His wings through this storm of great loss and emotion. May the Lord be your Shield and Comfort…your very Great Reward.

    Our hearts remain heavy as we lift you all to the Father, and at the same time, knowing that Don is whole and complete in the presence of The Father brings such peace.

    We love you Kate, and will hopefully see you at the service to celebrate Don’s memory and Homegoing.

    In His Great Love,

    Christina

  53. Dear Kate and family,

    Your tribute to Don was so wonderful. May God be with you and your memories sustain you during this time.

    Brenda Rhymer Smith

  54. Kate,

    May time and fair memories bring you comfort. Give a yell if you need anything.

    Bill

  55. I didn’t know Don, but after reading your beautiful tribute, I feel like I did. I can’t imagine the pain of your loss. I love you, Kate, and my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

  56. Dear Kate and family,

    I just heard today of Don’s cancer battle and of his passing. My heart goes out to all of you.

    I haven’t seen either of you since our days at JMU, but was so touched to hear of his plight today and wanted to share my condolences.

    Thinking of you and assured that Don is wrapped up tight in our Lord’s embrace.

    Elizabeth Libby Smoot

  57. I had the pleasure of working with Don on a few occasions at Sony Animation, and am so very saddened by his passing. We shared a lot of laughs, had many fun times, and I feel incredibly lucky to have gotten to know him. When I left Sony to try my hand at screenwriting, Don was helpful, supportive and always had great advice. He didn’t have to do that, but he did, and for no other reason than he wanted to help. He was a good man, and will be missed. I learned a lot from Don about writing, but he also was an example of how to be a good person in a business where so many people are selfish and ruthless. I’ll take that with me through the rest of my career, and will do my best to act in a similar manner.

    Thanks Don!

    My thoughts are with you all in this difficult time. But, Don’s right. Focus on the good. I’m sure there was tons of good. Again, I feel lucky to have known him.

  58. Kate, you will never know how much Don’s support of me when I was sick meant! He would tell me things only we could understand, we didn’t meet much but did we ever text back and forth! He wouldn’t tell me much about himself because he was protecting me, I honestly don’t think I could have gone though what I did without him! I will miss our back and forth jabber about the Dodgers and every time I go to a game I will look for him in his Dodger blue jacket! He now has the best seat in the house and I know he will be with me at every game and I will not forget him ever!

  59. Kate,

    You are a writer, too. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that both you and Don have written words that ring true to us….as you said–not trying so much to be inspirational as to be honest. Thank you for YOUR glimpse behind the curtain. Though Matt was able to share the writing-on-the-legal-pad moment with us, you made it real for us. Since we can’t be there to hug you, Andrew, Mollie, and Carrie–it was very important for us to be able to catch this glimpse of your beautiful family together–in this painful, yet sacred moment.

    We are taking Don’s instruction of “Focus on the positive”–seriously. Talented writers must have an inside track on the honesty and beauty required to live life authentically–and there is definitely something Sacred in this gift. Don has obviously left a family that is equipped to carry on.

    We love you, Kate, Andrew (my son), Mollie, and Carrie. Our hearts are with you today, Monday, and beyond.

    Susan, Gary, and Amy McBrayer

  60. We love you Kate, Molly, Kerri, and Andrew!!! You are in our hearts and in our prayers.

  61. Lord bless you Don. Prayers for you and your family Kate.

  62. Dear Kate, thank you for sharing such a moving tribute to Don. He was a remarkable man who led a remarkable life. In the 22 years since I first met him, he was always kind, generous, loyal and, yes, very funny. I miss him dearly. My heart aches for you and your family. (I have sent you an email via Don’s email address.) Much love to you and your family…

  63. Alesia and I are very glad to have known Don. We will continue to lift you, Andrew, Molly and Carrie up in prayer during this difficult time. God bless you.

  64. So very sorry to hear of this loss….

    Thoughts and Prayers,
    John Guiseppi

  65. Kate. I am so sorry for your loss and thank you for your strength in sharing Don and your time with him with all of us. It always amazing when someone can be demonstrate that it is possible to be bigger than ones circumstances for even one second no less hours and to help others. By doing for others the value of giving shows up in ones life in so many ways. I only today found out about Dons journey and will spend lots of time this weekend getting to know him and all those he loved and wrote about. I went to Madison College a little before him and was very happy to see our school mentioned along with such a big heart. All my prayers go out to you and your family. Jeff

  66. Hi Kate,

    Marvin Wadlow Jr here. I thought I would share some about what I remember of your lovely amazing husband who even then I looked at as a model for being a husband. But he was funny for sure. What an amazing funny man he was and is at home in heaven.

    I remember an event we use to do at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood on thanksgiving called The Turkey Bowl. Having been four years removed from the Olympic trials in track & field I was hesitant to go out and play in a weekend warrior event with a group of new white people that I didn’t even know that well…and then there was Rhymer. Lined up against me as if I was Spear Chucker Jones in the Mash movie trying to stop me from getting a touchdown. I almost went Mike Tyson on him but it was so funny that all I could do was laugh at his courage as I ran a five step post pattern on him for a touchdown.

    A few years later our Partner’s Class at FPCH went on a couples retreat in Ventura and I rained three’s on his head in a four on four pick up basketball game and I think David Karkenny blocked his shot onto the 101 freeway! But he was there doing his best against David who did go Tyson on him. I felt bad but he had a great time and laughed at us in words we still don’t know what they mean to this day…jocks, and ex-jocks are the worst. But he was funny. What a testimony he is to his family though and for marriage (as I am on my 2nd one) as I still look to be as good as him in anything that The Lord would want me to do and still raise my kids the best I can as I watch him and heard about decisions he made in his career to make sure his family was first. I never told him but he inspired me, along with others at church, to be a writer! To say something about something and have a point. I am sure he’s up there right now pitching to Jesus additional pages to add to the bible and asking him to take it to God for script approval. Love to you. David and I are trying to be there on Monday! I’ll tell him not to go Mike Tyson on anyone! 🙂

  67. Kate, heart sick for you and your kids. Remembering Don with tears and a smile. Prayers.

  68. Kate, Andrew, Molly and Carrie,

    I’m so sad to hear about Don and know I can’t come close to understanding what you are all going through now. Kate, your blog entry is beautiful – I’ve read it more than once with tears and smiles. I know that was hard to write – but the words seem to have flowed right from your heart.

    I’ve followed Don’s blog over the past few years – laughing and crying throughout. It was ‘so Don’! I’m honored to have known Don, as a classmate at JMU, and as the husband of my sophomore college roommate, Kate. What an amazingly talented, gifted, caring, dedicated and funny guy.
    I still chuckle at the story of Don and Kate’s first date – in Harrisonburg. If I recall correctly (forgive me I’m not 100 percent accurate), Don and Kate went out to a steak restaurant, where Don climbed up on something outside the restaurant (possibly a statue of a cow??), fell off and broke his arm! Now that’s a memorable first date! I also love, and have shared with others, the story of Don and Kate’s move out west – how, after selling some of his scripts from the East, decided to permanently make the plunge, move his family to CA, and become a full-time writer. However, soon after arriving, there was a writers’ strike – and he was unable to do the work he’d come to do. I’m sure it was a tough time, and considerations made about moving back East, but Don stuck it out, didn’t give up, and (as is often said) the rest is history.

    I admire Don immensely for pursuing his dreams, am so proud of him accomplishing those dreams, and sad beyond belief that he can’t live those dreams just a little while longer on earth.

    I’m thrilled that my 3 kids have gotten to know him and appreciate his talents from afar through his movies. They are proud that their mom personally knows the person who wrote Rio! Having majored in Communications, I had the privilege of taking several classes with Don – including an advanced Film/TV production. One of our class projects was to made an animated film – I was honored when Don told me he liked my film a lot – about a paper airplane — and today I treasure his compliment even more; especially since he became a famous screen-writer!

    Sorry I won’t be able to attend the Memorial Service. I know it will be a moving tribute to an amazing guy. You all have and will continue to be in my prayers and thoughts. We love you all lots! God bless,

    Deana Crowder Tredinnick

  69. dear kate,
    I just heard the news from my mother after Jim’s telephone call… words cannot express how saddened I am for you and your wonderful family… although we live what seems so far away…I always looked forward to your talented and such fun letters during the holidays …. your words say it all …he was a wonderful partner, father and gentleman.. so thankful we all could meet on the River for the family reunion…..

    our heart goes out to you and your family…
    much love to you ….

    ani and glenn

  70. Love and thought to you

  71. Dear Kate,

    I just found out and just linked into this blog. How sad I am for all of you – Don was a blessing on Earth, and I have many fond memories of his wry sense of humor and insightful comments.

    Please know that all the Fuellings send their love to you and your family.

    Your Girl Scout partner, Sue

  72. Kate,
    Someone posted Don’s “Sad Eyes” article on the Cancer Survivor’s Network HNC discussion board. After reading it I cut and pasted it into my blog, and then spent a long time day reading a number of Don’s own blog entries. I was a HNC patient in 2009 and have been fortunate to be cancer-free after completing my treatments, but am still plagued by what Don called “The seven dwarfs of side effects.” Those little bastards tend to get me down from time to time, but after reading Don’s courageous and humorous fight against the Prairie Dogs (what my radiology oncologist called my cancer cells), the next time I start to be blue, I’ll read “Sad Eyes” and a few of his other entries to get out of the funk. Just from reading his blog and seeing what some people wrote back to him and you, he sounds like a guy I really wish I could have met.

  73. It was only recently that I discovered Don’s blog; his sense of humor and grace are such an inspiration. May you find comfort in your memories and love in your family and friends that surround you. Take care.

  74. We love you, Kate. Thank you for sharing your heart and the beautiful man you shared life with. Don will be greatly missed, not forgotten, and soon to be with again because of Jesus! Until then, holding you & family & friends close in thoughts and prayers…..
    All our love forever in His, Ross, Teri, Ashton, Juston Flynn

  75. So very sorry for your loss. Don’s candor and comments were funny, sad and honest. Thank you for sharing him with us.

  76. Dear Kate, Andrew, Molly and Carrie,

    My heart aches at your loss of such a wonderful husband and dad and for the world’s loss too. Until you are all reunited, God bless each of you with warm memories.

    We are in Chicago, but are hearts are with you this morning. Don’s is a life worth celebrating.

    Your friend in Christ,

    Joy (Leo, Leigh and Jack)

  77. Is there any sort of fund I can donate to in honor of Don?

  78. Dear Kate…I am overwhelmingly sad in Dons passing but inspired to make more of life by his example. I am so glad to have been his friend.

    Chris Jenkins

  79. My deepest condolences to you and your family, Kate. I never met Don, but our professional lives intersected frequently. We worked on many of the same projects, and shared a credit on Rio. I heard so many great things about him over the years from the people we worked with, but the compliment that touched me most was that he was a devoted family man. I’m very sorry that I never had the pleasure of meeting him, and sincerely sorry for your loss. Sam Harper

  80. Oh Kate, I’m so sorry to hear this. Prayers for you and your family. David and I still remember our time together with you at Hollywood Pres so fondly.

  81. Hey, Kate. My name is Tim Hill, and I worked with Don as a director on several projects at Fox. I’m afraid I’m a bit behind the curve since I didn’t know he died until now, but I’d like to throw my two cents in nevertheless: I truly grieve his loss. Wow, I loved this guy and his talent. We wrestled together on “Garfield: A tale of two cities” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” He was so smart and so willing – whatever you need me to do, man – but with intelligence and irony. You know, I think I contacted him on every project since, but he was too busy. The thing is, he had the gift, a true gift, and maybe Hollywood will never know the extent of it, but I do. Don was special. Big time. I always counted him among the really good ones, and I know we would have worked together again had he found the time. Okay, that’s just my “Industry” perspective, but I’m very sad we’ve lost this guy, not just because of his talent, but because of who he was. He was a fighter. Really tenacious, actually. He never backed down unless you argued a very good case (and bought him a coffee), and that is the sign of an artist. I loved that about him, and in recent times I found myself longing for a conversation with him about this or that project. Well, that’s the career side, and one can argue that the profession doesn’t make the man, but in my opinion, the man and the profession we’re beautifully linked. I miss him. I salute him. I send good thoughts to you.

    With condolences —

    Tim Hill

  82. I found Don’s story one day while waiting for my radiation treatment. I couldn’t understand his sense of humor at first, how he could joke about his health issues. I signed up to follow his journey. I looked forward to each update he provided and most recently anxious to hear if the trial he was in would be the one to put him in remission, even if for a short time. I was stunned to say the least to read this last passage about his passing. I felt a little lost wondering why the turn of events. Don will not be forgotten. I never met him except thru his words. And yet, I felt like I knew him. This blog he wrote in was his way of communicating with so many, And yet he never knew how much his words helped others. He has no more pain and for that I am thankful. I will remember Don for days and years to follow. My deepest sympathies to his family.

  83. Dear Kate,
    I have just learned of Don’s “crossing the finish line” of a race well run.
    I know what a good and faithful servant he was and that he basks in
    Glory with the good shepherd.
    My heart feels deep compassion for you and your children at this time.
    I know that your loss is beyond expressing.
    My prayer for you at this time is for comfort and the shared love of your
    children near you.
    I will be praying for you all in the days ahead.

    with love and care,
    Jan Roberts

  84. Dearest Kate,
    What a treasure. Chris and I were struck with common human frailness in grappling to express our utmost condolences. But after reading the Don’s blogs, Andrew’s words, and yours I was filled with an immense calm.
    The outpouring of love from friends and family close and afar is quite the testament to a life well lived.
    As the ship in Bishop Brent’s poem, ‘What is dying?’ what I’ve read I see Don has not diminished in size at all. He is just as large bearing a load. His humor has touched so many. His well being has ensured generations. As Andrew, Molly, and Carrie nurture their own Don is surely alive and well for his destination has only taken him from their sides but not from their hearts.
    Thank you so much, to the both of you, for allowing us to be a guest in your lives. With heartfelt sincerity, love. Bob and Chris Richardson.

  85. I never knew Don. But I caught wind of his passing through a family relative and found this blog. I’m amazed at his strength and passion for life. My prayers are with you and your family. I’ve always been told there is light at the end of the tunnel.


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