On Wednesday October 19, 2022, Donald (Don) Robert Wallace, a loving husband and father of three, passed away at the age of 89 from Alzheimer's disease. Don was born on December 30, 1932, in Appleton Wisconsin the son of Harvey and Lucille (Ludwig) Wallace. He was raised by his mother and grandmother who struggled, sometimes not knowing where their next meal would come from. Don wanted his future family not to be as poor as he was. Don lived the American Dream. He started working at 12 selling and delivering newspapers. In high school he was the youngest salesman at Flood Shoe Store. He sold so many shoes in one month that the owner of Allen Edmonds asked him to come to the factory to see the business. Thus, a natural salesman was born. Don loved to downhill ski and started the first ski club in Appleton.
Don fell in love at first sight when Nancy walked into homeroom her first day of ninth grade. He knew then that he was going to marry her. Don married Nancy Zimmerman the week before Christmas on December 18, 1954, in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Don was a corporal in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1956, after bootcamp at Fort Bliss, Texas, his commanding officer found out Don could type, so instead of going to Korea with a gun, he went to Fort Ord in San Diageo, California with a typewriter. He typed top-secret messages to and from Korea.
Don and Nancy started their married life driving from Appleton to Fort Ord, California on Route 66. When they arrived in Albuquerque, NM on a snowy Christmas Eve night, the muffler fell off their car. Don dropped Nancy off at a hotel and set off to find someone to fix the muffler. He finally found a place to fix the muffler but forgot which hotel he had left Nancy. From that day on they knew their life was going to be full of fun and adventures.
Don and Nancy moved back to Wisconsin and settled in Madison. Nancy worked as an LPN to support Don, who was completing college. Don graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison earning a bachelor’s degree in Economics. Don worked for Robert W Baird as a stockbroker for 25 years and was then recruited to be the manager of Piper Jaffrey in Madison. He managed that office until his retirement in 2005. Don worked hard to get clients. He went to rural communities and talked to many farmers. He would walk through the fields and barns in his suit to farmers, and Nancy would make sure he wore overshoes, so he didn’t bring manure home on his good shoes. Those farmers made a lot of money believing in Don. Don had over 80 investment clubs all over southern Wisconsin helping people invest. He also taught business classes at U.W. Madison.
Don was also very active in the Madison community. He volunteered for the United Way and American Cancer Society, of which he was a board member. He was an active member of Downtown Rotary all his professional and retired life. Don was also a member of the Jaycees and Gyros. They both loved to dance and belonged to the Harlequin Dance Club.
Don and Nancy had three wonderful children: Karen, Russell, and Michael. Don and Nancy were fantastic parents, full of fun and curiosity.
They wanted their children to learn about life, enjoy it, and experience different things. Don taught the kids how to ski when they were very young. The family took many trips to Aspen, Vail, and Winter Park. Through the years, they had season passes to Devils Head, Indianhead Mountain and Powderhorn Mountain. Don and Nancy also planned many vacations with the kids to explore the USA.
Boating was also a big part of their lives. Don and Nancy had many boats through the years, all Sea Rays. The family took many boat-camping trips on the Mississippi River, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Don and Nancy took boat trips with friends from the Great Lakes and to the Bahamas. Later, Don and Nancy decided to build a home in northern Wisconsin. They found the perfect place on Big Arbor Vitae Lake, north of Minocqua. When Don retired, he and Nancy noticed how much the quality of the lake had declined over the years. Don and Nancy created the Big Arbor Vitae Lake Association. This was Don’s passion, he talked to the DNR and other area lake associations to get them involved. It took years to get the Association going, raise money, hiring Students to monitor the boats coming and going from the lake, having lake owners help monitor lake health. His work on the lakes has been no less than essential for future enjoyment of the north woods.
To everyone who knew, Don was a vibrant, hilarious, caring, and engaging man. He could take over a room when he walked in, loved a good (and sometimes bad) joke, and always supported his family and friends. He was at his best on his boat, often enjoyed a cocktail (or two) and good food, and was a master griller. He was a natural salesman, and most importantly of all, simply enjoyed life, he could laugh at himself, and never felt or acted as if his accomplishments were the product of anything other than hard work and good common sense. He was down to earth, and so personable that people gravitated to him. We will miss him greatly every day.
Don is Survived by: His loving wife Nancy of 67 years, his children: Karen (Scott) Bohon, Russell Wallace, Michael (Donna) Wallace, his grandchildren: Johanna (Mike) Altenberger, Tyler (Megan) Marotz, Kennedy Wallace, Carson Wallace, Landon Wallace, Rachel Wallace, Stephanie Wallace, Kyle Wallace, and great-grandchildren: Ashlyn Altenberger, Madelyn Altenberger, Kinsley Marotz, and Logan Marotz. Don was preceded in death by his mother Lucille, Aunt Irene and Jay Hanley, In-Laws Lawrence and Lucille Zimmerman, Sister-in-law LuAnn Thorson, and Brothers-in-law Richard and Peter Zimmerman.
Funeral services will be held at 11 AM on November 30, 2022 at the Cress Center, 6021 University Ave., Madison. A visitation will be held one hour prior to service. A luncheon will follow at the Cress Center.
Don’s family would like to thank the Care Teams at Hyland Park and Hyland Crossings for the wonderful care they provided for Don as his Alzheimer’s progressed. You all are truly Angels to take care of people with Alzheimer’s.
To continue Don’s passion to support his community and Northern Lakes after his passing, in lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation or Big Arbor Vitae Lake Association at PO Box 63, Woodruff, WI 54568, in his name.
We invite you to share your memories here on Don's tribute wall.
6021 University Ave. Madison