Donald H. Tompkins | Passages

Donald H. Tompkins

Mar. 30, 1930 – Oct. 4, 2017

Donald Henry Tompkins, long time Orcas Island resident, passed away peacefully the evening of Oct. 4.

Born in Sunnyvale, California, Don and his sister Audrey grew up on a 100-acre farm during the Great Depression. He quickly learned the value of a hard day’s work at a young age and carried that value with him throughout his life.

After graduating from the University of California – Berkley in 1952, Don joined the U.S. Air Force and was quickly assigned fighter pilot training. He served in the military for several years, eventually attaining the rank of Major. At the age of 29 he retired from military active service and went on to fly in the Air National Guard while pursuing a career as a real estate developer. It was during his time training with the Guard, that would bring him to the Pacific Northwest where he would go on to become a United Airlines pilot and raise his family.

Throughout his life, Don enthusiastically embraced many hobbies including bicycling, marathons, motorcycling, flying, water skiing, snow skiing and sailing. Don loved long distance running and was a pioneer in healthy, vegetarian nutrition, staying extremely strong and active throughout all but the last few years of his long life. At 45, Don qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon in 2 hours 53 minutes. At 60, feeling “forced” into retirement from United Airlines long before he was physically ready, he waged a protest by landing his last DC-10 commercial airlines flight in San Francisco, changed into his running shoes and ran the 805 miles home to Seattle.

A world traveler, it was his love of flying and sailing that brought him to his most beloved destination, Orcas Island. When he retired from United Airlines in 1990 he was finally able to call Orcas his full-time home. In true fashion to his character, Don bought an old 1920 farm house where he lived for almost 30 years.

Don found his true home on Orcas where his adventures and love of life, nature and the pursuit of healthy happiness multiplied, being shared with many like-minded friends. Many of the things he did on Orcas were done to support the community he loved. He always enjoyed driving his Model T with 4 or 5 of his border collies in the 4th of July parade; he loved having the school kids over every year for a farm field trip to play with the sheep, chickens, dogs and big orange cat. Don was often found high up on a ladder, decorating his barn at 3-Corners with bright and festive lights in celebration of Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. In fact, his barn was a community center, open to all, with a ping pong table and exercise equipment. The ping-pong tournaments were one of the many activities that kept Don young, while enjoying the company of good friends.

Don is survived by three of his four children Lezlie, Joel and Matt Tompkins, as well as five grandchildren, Lynzee and Logan Halvorson, Paige, Tiana and Drew Tompkins. His oldest son, Todd, who is with us in our hearts, unfortunately preceded Don’s passing.

Don will be sorely missed but fondly remembered by those who knew him, his children and family who love him dearly.

We invite you to join us on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. to pay tribute to Don’s life on Orcas at his home at Fowler’s Corner.