Donald W. Elder, 96, Sinking Valley, passed away Thursday evening at his residence.
He was born in Altoona, son of the late Walter and Bulah (St. Clair) Elder. He married Mary Keller on May 17, 1948, and she preceded him in death March 7, 1986. He later married Susan Locher on July 12, 1996, in Winchester, Va., and she survives.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by three daughters: Kay Adams and husband, Joe, of Cresson, Mary Dawn Samuels and husband, Sam, of Altoona and Becky McFalls and husband, John, of Bellwood; four sons: Donald and wife, Angie, of Altoona, George and wife, Linda, of Altoona, Andy and wife, Leslie, of Pleasant Gap and Tim and wife, Pauline, of Madera; four stepchildren: Bud Miller of Altoona, Shelly Blair and husband, Mike, of Claysburg (Donald helped raise Bud and Shelly), Harry Miller and wife, Carol, of Beaverdale and Amy Stotler of Beaverdale; 22 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by a sister, Edna; three brothers: Robert, Paul and Charles; and a grandson, Colton Blair.
Donald served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during WWII as a machine gunner and radio operator aboard a B-25. He was shot down in combat over northern Africa and was a POW for 27 months. Upon his return to the United States, he was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
He then went to work for A&P as a meat cutter, retiring after many years of service, and also worked as a licensed agent with the Lutheran Brotherhood Insurance Co. He served as a justice of the peace and retired again later in life after many years of service as a dog law officer from the Department of Agriculture.
Donald was a true sportsman's advocate as seen in his many memberships and advisory roles. He worked alongside the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission as an adviser and served as a sportsman adviser for Gov. Tom Ridge. He received awards for his lifetime of commitment and dedication to wildlife and sportsman activities. He served as the Eastern Division chairman of Blair County Sportsman Club.
He was a lifetime member of the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, Frankstown Sportsman's Association, Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs and Altoona Rifle and Pistol Club. He was both a recruiter for and lifetime member of the NRA. He was also a lifetime member of the Blair County and Chimney Rocks Beagle clubs, Jaffa Shrine and Fraternal Order of Freemasons.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, and 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, at Mauk & Yates Funeral Home Inc., Juniata, where a funeral service will be held at noon Monday. Inurnment will be held at Pavia Cemetery at the convenience of the family.
Memorial contributions may be made to Home Nursing Agency Hospice, 201 Chestnut Ave., P.O. Box 352, Altoona, PA 16603.