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Obituary: Donald F. DeCleene

Donald F. DeCleene, 85, of Wyndmoor, Penn., passed away Sunday, February 27, 2022, in Abington, Penn.

Born on July 21, 1936, in Brown County, Wis., he was the son of the late Ellsworth DeCleene and the late Ludmilla (nee Kabat) DeCleene. Growing up as the oldest son of twelve siblings on a dairy farm in Greenleaf, where he developed his love of family and community, along with a farmer’s passion for hard physical labor and machines.

After attending St. Norbert High School, Don went on to earn Bachelor and Master Degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin while also serving in the Army Reserves. After working for some years in Milwaukee, Don moved to Philadelphia to work at the Franklin Institute Research Institute. Ranging from baking automation for Tastykake to protective military equipment to crash-test dummies, his machines touched everyone’s life. He was active in the Philadelphia Society of Engineers and MathCounts. Forever inquisitive, any topic was fair game for intellectual debate and discussion.

Don was committed to family and home. He always prioritized people first. From helping to coach sports he had never played, to learning to camp in order to be Troop 543 Scout Master, he valued family time together. If there was a grandchild’s race, game, play, recital, graduation, birthday, or other significant event, he was there to make them feel special.

In faith and practice, Don sowed the good seed. He was a parishioner of Our Mother of Consolation Parish in Chestnut Hill, Penn., where he has served as a Eucharistic Minister, and was on the Parish Council, Pre Cana, Marriage Encounter, and the St Vincent DePaul Society. He valued the solace of outdoors. He loved working around the yard, especially digging and moving dirt. No bush, shrub, or tree was safe. The house on the hill was his haven and faith his foundation.

He is survived by the loving family he built: his soul mate and wife, Sheryl A. DeCleene (nee Brinkman) with whom he shared 57 years of marriage; son Brian DeCleene (Jodi), daughter Julianne Clarke (Chris), and son Bruce DeCleene (Antonia). Also surviving Don are nine grandchildren.. He is also survived by two brothers and five sisters: Elaine Young, Fran (LaVerne) DeCleene, Mary (bob Young), Caroline Nooyen, Rose (Paul) Vandervest, Joe (Patti) DeCleene, Donna (Joe) Martzahl. He is also survived by two sisters-in-law: Gloria Kennedy and Lynne DeCleene. He was predeceased by siblings Delores (DeCleene) Blackowitz, Sr. Cheryl DeCleene, Howard DeCleene and Bernard DeCleene.

A funeral Mass was celebrated on March 11 at Our Mother of Consolation Church, in Philadelphia.

Contributions may be made to OMC St. Vincent De Paul Society, 9 East Chestnut Hill Ave, Chestnut Hill PA 19118.


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