Donald Searles, 98, Albert Lea

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Funeral services for Donald Searles of Albert Lea will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Grace Lutheran Church in Albert Lea. The Rev. Todd Walsh will officiate. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Bonnerup Funeral Service, Albert Lea, and one hour prior to the service at Grace Lutheran Church. Interment will be in Graceland Cemetery, Albert Lea. Military honors will be accorded by Albert Lea veteran’s organizations.

Donald Searles

Donald Searles

Mr. Searles died Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, at St. John’s Lutheran Community in Albert Lea. He was 98.

Don was born April 25, 1915, in Tiffin, Ohio, the son of D. Raymond and Olephia (McDonald) Searles.

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He graduated from high school in Tiffin, attended Heidelberg College and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in chemical engineering. He was very active and enjoyed his affiliation with Sigma Chi Fraternity. He took his Navy flight training at Purdue University and went on to become a Navy flight instructor during World War II, ending his military service in December 1945. Don applied his chemical engineering background in working for U.S. Gypsum Co. and the DeVilbiss Co.

He was united in marriage to Pauline Gerber on April 1, 1944, in Chicago. While working as a traveling salesman for G.P. Gundlach Co., selling advertising promotion and ingredients to small dairies, he moved his family to Albert Lea, where he and Pauline lived until 1972. During that time, Don continued to be on the road but selling for various companies, including Nashville Display Co. In 1972, they purchased and operated the Hillcrest Motel in Eau Claire, Wis. They later stayed in Eau Claire but continued to live there in retirement. Don and Polly moved back to Albert Lea in August of 1998, to live together at St. John’s Lutheran Community.

Don enjoyed woodworking, fishing, hunting, good food, listening to music, telling stories and socializing.

He is survived by daughter Mary Rollins and husband David of Nashville, Tenn.; son Bill and wife, Pat, of Albert Lea; three grandsons, Kent Rollins and his children Max, Mia and Ava of Nashville, Steven Rollins and wife Molly and their children Boyd, Paul and Matt of Nashville, Robert Rollins and his wife Elena, and their children Chloe and Phillip, of Nashville; four granddaughters,

Rebecca Rollins of Atlanta, Annie Searles and husband Nick of Minneapolis, Michelle Searles and her children Anya and Zavie, of San Diego, Calif., Erin Brennan and her children Eva and Mila of St. Paul; two stepgrandsons, Troy Christiansen and wife, Lisa, and their children Taylor and Calli of rural Northwood, Shannon Christiansen and wife, Lori, and their daughter Sadie of Kasson; and two stepgranddaughters, Marnie Mueller and husband Mike and their children, Samantha, Dylan and Brooke of rural Manly, and Natalie Hewitt and her husband Josh and their children Hanna and Jackson of Rochester.

He was preceded in death by his parents, twin aunts Clara and Ella Searles, father-in-law William Gerber, mother-in-law Elsie Gerber and wife Pauline.

Don was a loving father, husband, grandfather and great-grandfather, and will be sadly missed by his family and many friends.