Donald David Moehnke passed away on June 9, 2012 after a long and difficult battle with Alzheimer's Disease. Don was born on May 9, 1936 in Seaside, Oregon to LaVerne ("Mike") and Ann Moehnke. He grew up in logging areas of Oregon, after he and his mother survived spinal meningitis when he was 3 months old. Don had many fond early childhood memories of Lobster Valley, Molalla, and other logging camps, with his cousins, Jim and Marlene, who were just like a brother and sister to him. From an early age, Don was very positively influenced by his mother, who played the tuba in Seaside High School's All-Girl Marching Band and also...
Donald David Moehnke passed away on June 9, 2012 after a long and difficult battle with Alzheimer's Disease. Don was born on May 9, 1936 in Seaside, Oregon to LaVerne ("Mike") and Ann Moehnke. He grew up in logging areas of Oregon, after he and his mother survived spinal meningitis when he was 3 months old. Don had many fond early childhood memories of Lobster Valley, Molalla, and other logging camps, with his cousins, Jim and Marlene, who were just like a brother and sister to him. From an early age, Don was very positively influenced by his mother, who played the tuba in Seaside High School's All-Girl Marching Band and also played the piano throughout her life.
After the family moved to Eureka, CA in 1948, Don attended Eureka Junior High School, and Eureka High School, where he played his trumpet in the band and orchestra. He also sang in the Presbyterian Church choir, where he met his future bride, Dian Arvidson. Don graduated from EHS in 1954, serving as Senior Class President, and every 5 years thereafter he organized the class reunions, celebrating the good times of EHS graduates. Don and Dian were married in Eureka in 1955, and during their first years together, Don worked night shifts at his father's mill, Brightwood Lumber Co., while attending college during the day.
Don received his BA and teaching credential from Humboldt State College in 1958 and his MA there in 1966. His career in the Eureka City Schools included 8 years teaching elementary instrumental music at 9 schools; 3 years teaching band, orchestral, choral, and general music at Winship Junior High from 1965 to 1968; and 26 years teaching band, orchestra, choirs, vocal jazz, jazz band, music theory, and general music at Eureka High School from 1968 to 1993. Of all his classes at EHS, he was most proud of introducing Music Theory into the curriculum. Through all of this, he found the energy to produce many musicals at the high school and at College of the Redwoods, and to take a variety of his groups on tour around the state and also participate in festivals in Oregon, Nevada and Hawaii. Many of his students participated in the California All-State honor music festival band, orchestra, choir, jazz band and vocal jazz groups. In addition, Don served as a master teacher for many credential candidates from Humboldt State University over the years. Following his retirement from Eureka City Schools, Don taught music education classes part-time at HSU for 10 years. For a total of 46 years, Don enriched students' lives and the community with a love of music.
To quote a portion of a tribute to Don by Eureka City Schools upon his retirement, "This extraordinary human being known as Don Moehnke can best be characterized from the most important perspective, that of his students. They don't just like him, they respect him, they love him, they idolize him, they revere him. He is not only their teacher, he's their music teacher, their advisor, counselor, confidant, father figure, their guide to what is right, just and fair, their very most trusted person at school, and for many, in their lives. They know that for him, they and all students have the highest priority in his educational philosophy." Above all, Don will be remembered most for his kind heart, sense of humor, and the ability to find a positive outlook no matter what the situation.
Don loved his children and grandchildren, always taking time to learn about their lives and help with their problems whenever possible. He especially loved taking his family on vacations to his parents' summer home at Shasta Lake, as well as his in-laws' "Ranch" at Alderpoint. Other favorite vacation spots included the Hawaiian Islands, Seaside and the rest of the Oregon Coast, and National and State Parks. He enjoyed attending live musical theater performances, plays at Ashland, Oregon, musical festivals and conferences. At home, he loved working in the garden and on home improvement projects, carpentry, photography and reading non-fiction books. He enjoyed camping, backpacking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, water skiing, as well as walks through the neighborhood. He always loved his pets, including 40 years' worth of Golden Retrievers, from Bonnie to Nala, and his cat Missy.
Don enjoyed teaching private students, teaching a class or two for College of the Redwoods, and conducting the many bands, choirs and orchestras in the schools. Don was the Sanctuary Choir director at the First Presbyterian Church in Eureka for many years. He loved playing his trumpet for gigs, including the Rhythmnaires and the EHS Marching Band during high school; HSU Marching Lumberjacks, HSU Symphony (trumpet and cello), Eddie Clay And His Band of Today, and the Jerry Moore Quintet during college; CR's night stage band; Nice-N-Easy and The Hall Street Honkers, and other groups.
After retirement, Don enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren, volunteering with the North Coast Music Festivals, judging for numerous music competitions, volunteering at the Humboldt County Library, playing gigs with his son, Bill, traveling, and spending time at the Ranch. He also really loved his early morning sessions at Eureka Physical Therapy with his workout buddies. And always, Don looked forward to seeing and catching up with his friends and former students. Don loved to play the piano and trumpet every day, and he continued to do so, even though Alzheimer's eventually took away his ability to read music, until just shortly before his death.
Don is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Dian L. Moehnke; sister Susan A. Moehnke Hodge; children William D. Moehnke (Denise), Shari L. Moehnke, Lori A. Moehnke Anderson, Michelle D. Moehnke Gibbons (Freeman); nephew David Miller; grandchildren Michael W. Moehnke (and Michael's mother, Sharon Edmondson), Paul T. Gibbons, Freeman James Gibbons; step-grandchildren Jesse and Lindsey Escarda; former brothers-in-law Stuart Miller and Claude Hodge; cousins James Simonson (Marcia), Debra Simonson Coatsworth (David), Jennifer Simonson Elliot (Paul), Bob Rautio (Sherri), Sanna Lundquist (Paul), Eunice Scheurich (Ray), Marlene Moehnke Chapman, Jennifer Chapman Anderson (Steve), Jeanette Moehnke Nixon, Stacey Nixon Skarpho (Steve), Jeffrey Nixon; cousins-in-law Suzanne Arvidson Nash, Gina Nash (Teresa), Freya Nash, Jeffrey Simpson (Marilyn), Vicki Simpson (Don), Hazel Simpson Erickson (Phil) and their families, as well as numerous other relatives.
Don was preceded in death by his father LaVerne "Mike" Moehnke, his mother Ann Rautio Moehnke; father-in-law Paul Arvidson, mother-in-law Pearl Arvidson; grandparents David F. Moehnke & Ella Hornshuh Moehnke, Herman A. Rautio & Maria Susanna Kylmaniemen Rautio; aunt Grace Rautio Simonson (Hoyt); uncles Walter Rautio, Uno Rautio (Jean), Marlin "Tobe" Moehnke (Anna) (Dymae); nephew Matthew Miller; cousins-in-law Cliff Chapman, George Nash and Gregory Simpson.
The Moehnke family would like to thank Debra Barrow-Vriez at Eureka Family Practice; Dolly and her wonderful staff at Frye's Care Home in Eureka; the doctors, nurses and staff at St. Joseph's Hospital; everyone from Renaissance at Timber Ridge in McKinleyville, and our local Hospice physicians and nursing staff. The family would also like to thank everyone who has and continues to send condolences and support during this very sad time. It is deeply appreciated.
Memorial contributions can be made to Eureka High School Music Boosters, c/o Eureka City Schools, 2100 J St., Eureka, CA, 95501; or Hospice of Humboldt , 2010 Myrtle Ave., Eureka, CA 95501, or your favorite charity.
To celebrate Don's Life, there will be a memorial service at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 24, 2012, at the First Presbyterian Church, 819 15th St., Eureka, CA. Visitation will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, 2012 at Pierce Mortuary, 707 "H" St. in Eureka.
Don's family is also planning a Celebration of Life gathering at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 5th, 2012, at the Elks Club in Eureka. Additional details will be posted on Facebook.
Please sign the guestbook at www.Times-Standard.com, click obits.