Don Stearns, of Montesano, who was more affectionately known to his students as “Señor,” passed away Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, following a brief (6-week) battle with a glioblastoma brain tumor. Don was born to James and Lena (Morrison) Stearns Aug. 3, 1949, in South Bend, Washington.
Don lived in Bay Center, Washington and began his education there. His family later moved to Humptulips, Washington, where he attended Quinault schools through his sophomore year, and graduated from Hoquiam High School in 1967. In school, Don participated in basketball and track.
Don enlisted in the U.S. Army (Airborne) and was a paratrooper. He then attended Central Washington University, where he obtained both his bachelor and master’s degrees in education, majoring in history and Spanish. His first teaching position was in Ellensburg, Washington, where he taught history and coached basketball. Don left teaching and spent the next 18 years as a diesel mechanic. After that, he decided to get back into education and was hired as a Spanish language teacher at Montesano High School. He taught there for 19 years and retired in 2019. For three summers, Señor attended the University of Guadalajara to deepen his knowledge of the Spanish language.
Don found much joy and satisfaction in fixing things and helping others, so he jumped out of retirement and went back to work at Montesano Health and Rehabilitation Center, where he worked in maintenance. For the past several years, Don has volunteered (anonymously for quite some time) at the DNR’s Preacher’s Slough Trail/Park. He kept the trail free of debris at all times, picked up garbage, replaced boards in benches, trimmed brush, raked gravel, etc.
He liked riding his bike all over different trails and logging roads in the area. He was a hiker and enjoyed scuba diving and traveling to Mexico, where he loved experiencing the food, culture and people. He also enjoyed spending time with his family. His greatest love, however, was his sweet canine companion, Lola, who accompanied Don pretty much everywhere he went. Don loved the Lord, and his Christian faith was important to him. He spent many hours reading and studying scripture, always taking detailed notes on what he read.
Don is survived by a brother, Ken (Vicki) Stearns of Hoquiam, Washington; a sister Marilyn Brenneis of Grand Prairie, Texas and a number of nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and a niece, Nikki.
A celebration of life will be held at the Montesano Church of God on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at 11 a.m.
Memorial donations may be made to the Montesano Volunteer Fire Department, 310 E. Pioneer Avenue, Montesano, WA 98563 or the charity of one’s choice.
Arrangements are by Harrison Family Mortuary of Aberdeen, Washington.