Cover photo for Donald "Don" W. Sorrels's Obituary
Donald "Don" W. Sorrels Profile Photo

Donald "Don" W. Sorrels

April 27, 1920 — April 27, 2011

Donald W. "Don" Sorrels died at home in Kennewick, Wash., on April 27, his 91st birthday. A memorial service will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church in Kennewick, Wash. Don owned a cabin near Anthony Lakes and spent a lot of time in Union County.

Don was born April 27, 1920, to Alice Katherine Kirkman Sorrels and John Wesley Sorrels on a remote ranch on the Okanogan Indian Reservation. Tragedy struck the family when at the age of 4, Don's father and grandfather drowned in an accident involving logs and horses on the Columbia River.

With his young widowed mother, Don lived in Bellingham, Everett, Los Angeles and finally Seattle, where he graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1936.

Don attended the University of Washington. Later he went to work on the construction of Grand Coulee Dam. When the war started, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, where he became a pilot and developed his life-long love of flying. He served as a lieutenant and pilot in the Air Corps and was stationed in England and France where he flew 35 missions.

In 1943, he married Shirley Elizabeth Edgar in Yuma, Ariz. They moved to North Carolina where Don finished his training before being sent to Europe.

Upon return from the war, the couple lived in Berkeley, Bothell, Wash., and then moved to Kennewick, where they have lived since 1949. Don started an electrical contracting business and then in 1954 went to work at Hanford for General Electric. Later he worked for Washington Public Power where he designed and operated the maintenance systems at the N Reactor. He retired in 1982.

Don's family says he was a man of no nonsense. If there was a job to be done, he just did it. He always had a project going. Right after he retired, he was instrumental in the construction of Mamacita's and five years later, Ten Depot Street. He also built two airplanes. When electricity became available at his cabin near Anthony Lakes two summer ago, he put in all of the electrical work himself.

Don loved skiing, a sport that he started pursuing at age 15 when he and his mother would climb Mount Rainier to ski down. In 1967, he joined the Anthony Lakes Ski Patrol and was a member for over 30 years. He also loved to hunt and fish.

Time spent with family and friends was always important. As a young man he was an active member of the Shriners.

Don and Shirley took many trips in their various airplanes, including several cross-country flights to World War II squadron reunions, the last trip taken when he was 84. He was an active member of the Experimental Aircraft Association and provided youths with their first small plane flights as part of the Young Eagles.

Don is survived by Shirley, his wife of 67 years; daughter, Sandra Sorrels of La Grande; son, John Sorrels of La Grande; daughter, Cindy Wardlow and her husband Jack, of Kelso; two grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.


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