Donald Eugene Elder


Donald Eugene Elder, 86, passed away on January 27, 2013 at his home in Balboa.  Don was born May 27, 1926 in Los Angeles to Eugene ‘Gene’ and Helen (Morse) Elder.

Don was a lifelong resident of Newport Beach, living on Balboa Island, in Corona del Mar, where he met his wife of 58 years, Diane (Wakefield) when he bought the home next to her family, and for more than 50 years on the Balboa Peninsula oceanfront. He graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1943, and received his degree in Electrical Engineering from The University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1950. He was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity at USC and remained a loyal Trojan throughout his life. Don and Diane were married in 1954 in Corona del Mar, CA.

Don served his country and his community throughout much of his adult life. During WWII he served in the Army Air Corp as a MP and later joined the Navy Reserve as an Ensign.  He was elected to the Newport Beach City Council in 1962, and was Vice-Mayor of the City from 1964 to 1966.

Don began his career as a Test Engineer for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft and then joined the Southern California Gas Company where his assignment was planning all gas service for a new amusement park called Disneyland. In the late 1950s Don started Elder Construction Company, a residential construction company building homes first across Orange County and then for more than 30 years specializing close to home in Newport Beach and Corona del Mar, before he retired.

Don’s true passions were being in the air and on the sea. As a young man he could be seen doing Barrel Rolls and Figure Eights in his 1940 Boeing Stearman bi-plane aircraft out of the fledgling Santa Ana Airport, racing to Catalina in his Chris-Craft Cadet speed boat, or doing ‘The Balboa’ in a dance contest at the former Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa.  In later life he spent much of his time on his powerboats, Torea and Torea II, cruising the waters off the Southern California coast, or at anchor in a cove off Catalina Island.  Don and Diane are members of the Balboa Yacht Club. Don was also a licensed HAM radio operator and active on the airwaves for many years.

Don is survived by his wife, Diane; daughter Cynthia; son Eric and daughter-in-law Dr. Laura Darke; grandchildren Christa and Brendan; niece Diana (Willett) Garner (Jack) and sister-in-law Joan Goff. Don was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Dolores (Elder) Willett.

The family would like to thank VITAS Innovative Hospice Care who took such wonderful and compassionate care of Don and his family.  Burial will be a private ceremony at sea. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the American Cancer Society.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World