Those wishing to say goodbye (and hello!) are welcome to join the family at the Knights of Columbus, 1111 W. 35th St., Davenport, Iowa, between 2 and 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 10. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Alzheimer’s Association, at P.O. box 96011, Washington, D.C., 20090-6011, online at alz.org, or by calling 1-800-272-3900.
Donald L. Sloat of Davenport passed peacefully at his home, “Clay Hill Castle,” on Wed., March 30th, 2016.
Don was born Dec. 20, 1923, eldest son of Edwin (“Ted”) and Corinne (Lake) Sloat, in Columbia, Mo. He and his younger brother Jerry (“Jet”) were raised in Ft. Madison, Iowa. Like so many members of The Greatest Generation, with World War II gaining momentum, Don enlisted in the U.S. Army upon graduating high school and began his military training as an airplane mechanic in March 1943 with the Air Corps at Miami Beach, Fl. After the war, Don attended St. Ambrose College, where he majored in English and as a bit of an afterthought also obtained his teaching certificate, which would later prove fortuitous. It was during his college career that Don met the love of his life and future wife, Margaret (Peggy) O’Connor, with whom he enjoyed almost 64 years of very happy and loving marriage.
Don began his career in sales with Ji Case, but after the arrival of two sons and a daughter in rapid succession (24 months), he decided home life trumped life on the road hawking farm machinery. He dusted off that teaching certificate and embarked upon his life’s work in the classroom, a career that spanned more than three decades and enabled him to touch countless young lives. Don took great pleasure and purpose working with young minds, serving not only as teacher (primarily of English) but in earlier years also as basketball coach, yearbook editor, curriculum writer and English Department head. His 30-plus year teaching career culminated with his retirement from the Davenport Community School District in 1988, following 23 years at Walcott Intermediate School. Like many teachers, Don supplemented the family income with summer work—in his case, painting houses, a side business his three sons later joined to earn money to help with their college expenses.
Don leaves many legacies, but the greatest of these is love. He loved his wife Peggy beyond measure, with every fiber of his being, and he doted upon the six children they joyously brought into the world. Though his family was always the center of his universe, he also loved all of humanity, without judgement, gently observing his fellow man with clarity and insight and tirelessly demonstrating all-encompassing acceptance and limitless compassion. Ever the optimist, Don saw the glass to be always more than half full, and his response when asked how he was doing was always “first rate!” Deeply spiritual if not particularly religious, Don was yet the quintessential Good Samaritan, quietly and anonymously providing help when and where he saw need. This capacity for love was handed down to his children and grandchildren, in spades, and so lives on.
In addition to his love of family and humanity, Don had a deep love of words, of writing. He became famous for his “doggerel,” creating clever, rhyming witticisms for all occasions, in which he would capture the essence of an event or an emotion with charm and rhyme, creating delight for all lucky enough to receive. In later years, writing became a balm for the various pains that aging brings, and served him well. Lest we not forget massively corny jokes, of which he was without question The Master. Don also had a love for all things mechanical, a passion reflected in his enormous garage/workshop (the ultimate man cave before there was such a name for it) and huge and highly organized arsenal of tools, widgits, whatsits, salvaged whatchamacallits and the occasional back-handed ratchet smasher, (otherwise known as gadgets, rare hardware and mechanical remedies for any fix-it problem known to man). This passion and talent lives on in his sons, whose abilities to build or fix anything broken or invent something new and super cool are truly bottomless.
In addition to his beloved wife Peggy, devoted survivors include his brother Jerry (Eileen); children Jay (Deb) Sloat, Becky (Bill) Courtright, Jeff (Tracy) Sloat, Gary (Bonnie) Sloat, Diane (John) Kruse and Julie (Guy) Heller; grandchildren Sara (Justin) Cook, Jake (Saalini) Sloat, Luke and Ben Sloat, Don (Jen) Courtright, Elizabeth (Dave) Boundas, David (Jodie) Courtright, Ben Courtright, Jon Parker Sloat and Tony Sloat, Mickey and Meredith Sloat, Nick and Bryn Kruse, and Sophie and Olivia Heller; great grandchildren Will and Abby Courtright, Lloyd, Thomas and Charles Boundas, James and Anthony Courtright, Jay, Helen and John Cook, Karthik Sloat, and many beloved nieces and nephews and in-laws.