Donald Lee “Mr. T” Tackett, 87, Westport resident and former teacher at Hoquiam High School, died Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, at his home in Westport.
Don was born on May 16, 1932, in San Francisco, California, to Lonzo Luscious and Violet May (Baldwin) Tackett. His family moved around the Bay Area, Oakland and Santa Cruz when he was young and eventually landing in Renton, Washington. He attended Renton High School and was 1st chair drummer as a freshman. He graduated from Renton High School in 1950. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1952 and served in the Korean Conflict. He was honorably discharged after 2 years.
He returned to Renton where he went to work for Boeing and then for Renton Parks & Rec Dept. It was while working there that he met and fell in love with a fellow employee, Elaine Proctor.
Donald went to Western Washington Community College in Bellingham. That winter, he quit school and on Feb. 4, 1956, Donald married Elaine Proctor in Renton. Elaine lives at the family home.
Don went to work for the Boy Scouts of America in Everett, working as coordinator for the next seven years from 1961-1968. It was during this time that Don’s love of teaching and helping develop young person’s lives grew and at the age of 36, with a wife and four kids in tow, he went back to school, Central Washington State College, to earn his teaching degree. Those years were hard, and Don worked hard to pass his classes and provide for his family. One Christmas, not having enough money to buy a tree, he found a tumbleweed, painted it white and hung Christmas lights and ornaments on it.
Following his graduation in 1970, they moved to Federal Way, Washington, where he taught at Kilo Junior High. Things were still tight and he often taught private lessons in exchange for food to feed his growing family. In 1975, the teachers in the school district went on strike. A friend of Don’s in Hoquiam called him and asked him to come to Hoquiam and teach. They found a home in Aberdeen and he spent the next 18 years at Hoquiam High School.
Don and Elaine moved to the lower Hump River in 1993-1998. Following his retirement in 1995, he substituted for a few years around the area, but in 1998, they took their fifth wheel and explored North America for the next two years. When they returned, they built a home in Westport behind their son’s home and settled down.
Don enjoyed the outdoors and loved to go hiking and at one time was a member of the Mt. Pilchuck Search and Rescue Squad. He loved to paint on anything, be it saw blades, buoys or the side of someone’s RV. He was an avid reader and channel surfer. He was part of the “Tiger Cruise” with his son-in-law, Ryan Redifer, for six days from Hawaii to San Diego, California, on the U.S.S. George Washington. His student’s called him “Mr. T,” but his family called him “BK” which stood for “Book of Knowledge.” Don formed a trio back in the late 1960s called “The Don Tackett Trio.” He coached Hoquiam High School football for awhile.
Don was proud of his country and his time in service. He started the Veterans Day tribute at the 7th Street Theatre in the mid 1970s, which continues to this day. Don will be honored as one of the 19-20 Wall of Distinction honorees for the Hoquiam School District at its Veterans Day program. He was very humbled when he received this news. He was honored with his name on the Vet’s wall in Westport.
Don is survived by his wife of 62 years, Elaine Tackett of Westport; his son, Lon (Margo) Tackett of Westport; three daughters, Laura Tackett of Aberdeen, Peri (Ray) Shapansky of Westport and Jennifer (Jon) Henderson of Montrose, Colorado; 14 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter. He was preceded in death by a former son-in-law Ryan Redifer.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date and details will follow in The Daily World.
Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Twibell’s Fern Hill Funeral Home in Aberdeen, Washington.