“Mac,” age 66, passed the morning of October 17, 2016, in his home, the place he wanted to be. The Patriarch of the McLaughlin family will be dearly missed, but his legacy will live on forever.
Don was proceeded in death by his parents Neil and Lorene McLaughlin. He is survived by his wife, Janet McLaughlin of Chewelah, WA; older brother John of Newton, KS, younger brothers Ron of Jacksonville, TX, and Mickey of Augusta, KS; daughter Jessica (Paul) Sety of Chewelah, WA, daughter Leigh (Kevin Short) McLaughlin of Chewelah, WA, son Cory (Angie) McLaughlin of Watertown, NY; grandchildren Frankie, Sadie, Janet Mary, Justas, Chase, Avery and Savannah.
Donald Ray McLaughlin was born in Cody, WY, September 14, 1950. He was the second born child in a family of four boys. He was raised in Augusta, KS, went to college in Everett and Cheney, WA, lived his adult years in Helena, MT, and lived 23 years in Chewelah, WA, on “the farm.”
Don grew up hunting, fishing, developing a love for baseball, and acquiring a taste for southern style food made by his mom daily. He grew up earlier than most, helping his father and mother around the house and tending to his brothers. For fun, Don and his brothers would go hunt in the fields of Kansas, fish and play baseball. Don was also an accomplished musician performing on stage since a young age. In his adult years Don shared his love for hunting with his brother, children and grandchildren. Don loved the sounds and smells of the baseball field and was sure to have a game on the radio or TV. He was a fan of the KC Royals, then NY Yankees, and more recently a fan of the Seattle Mariners. He was an accomplished cook and known for manning the grill for family gatherings at Loon Lake.
Don’s passion for theatre began at Everett Community College. He was encouraged to transfer to Eastern Washington University and join the USO tour. It was there that he met the woman he would brag about the rest of his life —his beloved wife, Janet. While attending Eastern, Don and Janet experienced their first of many adventures on the Southeast Asia USO Tour. Don and Janet fell in love and married June 2, 1973. They went on an innumerable amount of traveling adventures, notably trips to New York City with their theatre students and a more recent trip of a lifetime traveling through Italy.
Traveling the world became a way of life for the McLaughlin family, though Don would tell you his wildest and favorite adventure with Janet was being a dad to Jessica, Leigh and Cory. Most conversations with Don included an update of his most recent historical community research project, the latest news for the Chewelah PACA Center for the Arts, Janet’s StageTime productions of which he helped design and build sets, what baseball team had a chance for the playoffs, how many Kokanee were in Loon Lake, and the latest update on his three children and their families.
In 1974, Don worked as an IATSE stagehand for the Spokane World’s Fair consisting of numerous concerts and tours where he met new friends, many of whom would become lifelong colleagues. Shortly after, he took a position as set and design director for the Spokane Civic Theatre. Don moved to Helena, Montana to serve as Executive Director of the Grand Street Theatre from 1979-1993, where he built a community of students and leaders for generations to follow. Don was known for his unforgettable teaching methods and mentorship in Helena and anywhere given the opportunity; he gave confidence to not only face the audience but to face their world, and their lives.
Don taught Theatre at EWU winning the Ed Yarwood Award Outstanding Faculty Member in Theatre ten times in his eleven years, and inspired a generation of artists that went on to make names for themselves. Many of them are proud to have him on their contact list to call for advice or just a good talk. His sage advice, and candid critique will be missed by all those in which he played an integral role in their life.
While serving at EWU he also continued to support his local Chewelah community by managing set designs for StageTime Theatre School and Jenkins High School in collaboration with his wife Janet. At his core, Don was a teacher and he taught what he loved – baseball, karate, hunting, fishing and the outdoors.
After retiring from EWU, Don McLaughlin continued to be involved in the theatre as a consultant to the Chewelah Performing and Cultural Arts Board. He expanded his interests and activity to the historical community where he belonged to the Heritage Network, Chewelah and Stevens County Historical Society (SCHS) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Don was also the co-Project Director of the Historic Colville Indian Agency. He advised the Kalispell Tribe of Indians Language and Culture Department on theatrical productions. For the past six years, the conference has trained students from various PNW Tribes to use theatrical control of their bodies, voice and minds to tell the age old stories of the Elders. His most recent passion and project was as Executive Director of the Chewelah Center for the Arts.
Don was extraordinarily involved, a force of nature giving the rest of us a taste of the beauty of life. He always had a ‘tree’mendous joke ready, a smile and a way about him that made everyone he interacted with feel like they were important. He was passionate, driven, caring and honest. He inspired, led, and achieved; because of this, he still expects us all to be our best. We love you Donald, Don, Dad, Grandpa, Brother, Uncle, Sensei, Coach, Professor, D-Mac, Donny Mac, Mac. We promise to make you proud.
The McLaughlin family will have a viewing at Riplinger Funeral Home in Spokane, Wednesday, October 19, 2016 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. A community celebration of Don’s life will be planned for late December.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to PACA (Chewelah Performing and Cultural Arts Center) PO Box 1113, Chewelah, WA 99109