CARTHAGE, Ill. - Donald Lee Schilson, Ph.D., 89, of Tallahassee, Florida, Terre Haute, Indiana, and Carthage, Illinois, passed away Saturday, June 10, 2017, at St. Louis University Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.
Donald was born in the family farmhouse Aug. 11, 1928, in Carthage, Illinois, the son of Erwin Donald and Hattie Elaine (Boyer) Schilson. He attended school through the eighth grade at the McCall Elementary School single-room schoolhouse. He attended Carthage High School, graduating in 1946.
He then went on to receive his bachelor of arts in biology at Carthage College in 1950, and master's degree in biology and school administration from Western Illinois University in 1953.
Donald then served as principal of the London Mills Junior High School in London Mills, Illinois, and, later, as principal at the Avon Junior High School in Avon, Illinois. He then continued his studies at the University of Iowa, receiving his Ph.D. in teacher education and curriculum development in 1962.
Donald began his teaching career as an assistant professor at Florida State University from 1962 to 1964. He joined the faculty of the University of Ohio as an assistant professor from 1964 to 1967. In 1966, while with the University of Ohio, he traveled to Vietnam, serving as a special adviser in education in Saigon. From 1967 to 1968 he served as an associate professor at the University of Arkansas.
On July 20, 1968, he was united in marriage to the love of his life, Elizabeth L. Warnebold, in Springfield, Illinois. Later that year, he ran for the 20th Congressional District in the U.S. Congress and was defeated by Paul Findley. After that, he taught one year at the University of South Florida as a visiting professor. From 1969 to 1971, he was a full professor at the University of North Dakota. Donald was a pilot and had a love of aviation. During his time at the University of North Dakota, he developed an aircraft leasing company instrumental to the growth of the University of North Dakota aviation training program. Besides his leasing company, he owned his own plane.
After the death of his father, he took over the family farming operation full time in Carthage. In the late 1970s, Donald developed the Schilson Field Air Strip at McCall, Illinois, and started the Schilson Aerial Application Co. He also served as board director at Farmers State Bank of Ferris, Illinois. He retired from farming in 1981 due to a heart attack.
On June 19, 1986, he received a heart transplant and was one of the longest-living heart transplant recipients.
Besides aviation, Donald had a long passion for motorcycling up until his passing, riding his motorcycles to Alaska four times, among many other adventures across the United States.
Donald is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, of Tallahassee, Florida; two daughters, Elizabeth Ann (Robert) Hawn of Sand Point, Idaho, and Kathryn (Jim) Olmstead of Tallahassee, Florida; one son, Donald (Jodi) Schilson Jr. of Zionsville, Indiana; four grandchildren, James and Olivia Olmstead, and Jack and Michael Schilson; one brother, Robert (Millie) Schilson of Greenville, South Carolina; one sister, Shirley Ehrendreich of Helen, Georgia; and four nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother in infancy.
Family will meet friends from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 17, 2017, at Printy Funeral Home in Carthage, Illinois, with family remarks beginning at 2 p.m. Memorials may be directed to The Legacy Theater, in Carthage, Illinois, of which Donald was an enthusiastic sponsor.
Published on June 14, 2017