McKeage, Donald William, Stanton, Michigan, Formerly of Hemlock, MI

Barbara P. Frost

On Tuesday, February 2, 2010, Donald W. McKeage, age 84 years, WWII veteran and proud paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne Division, made his final jump, surrounded by his loving family, into the waiting arms of his Creator and the comrades who preceded him. Don was born in Hemlock, Michigan July 25, 1925, the son of the late Allen and Helen (Cross) McKeage. He graduated from St. Charles High School in 1943 and enlisted in the United States Army. He served with the 505th Parachute infantry Regt., 82nd Airborne Div. Northern Europe operation in 1944-1945. He had 2 combat jumps and also fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a Combat Infantryman Badge for his service in combat. Don’s wartime experience led him to become a lifetime active member of the Hemlock-Merrill VFW Post No. 7302 and Post Commander in 1953, 1979 and 1980. He was District Commander of the 9th District Dept. of MI VFW in 1958. Don was a lifetime member of the 82nd Airborne Division Association and national president of the association in 1970. He was a founder and lifetime member of the 505 Regimental Combat Team Association, holding the office of president on several occasions and editor of the Panther newsletter since its inception in 1987. He was a lifetime member of C-47 Club, WWII 82nd Airborne Div. Assoc, Old Timers Parachute Club, Airborne Static Line Assoc., Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and American Legion. Much of his life was dedicated to reaching out to his fellow troopers and giving a hand where needed. Don was a member of St. Bernadette Catholic Church, Stanton, MI and a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus. He was a member and officer of the Derby Lake Homeowners Association for many years and proud of his efforts to improve the lake. Don loved his country, his family and felt a special kinship with the troopers who stood shoulder to shoulder with him against a threat to both. His adult years were spent trying to build a better world for those around him in whatever sphere of influence he could touch. One of the guiding principles of his life was: “If you’re going to join an organization, get involved and be active.” His life of activism, especially on behalf on his fellow troopers, was a testament to that belief. Don started in the construction industry in 1946 and was promoted to construction Superintendent for Spence Brothers Construction Co. in 1952. Don was proud of the many projects he had a hand in building, retiring from the company in 1983. Don married Genevieve Moeller in 1947. They raised three daughters, Alice (Carol Popovich) McKeage, Mable (John Locke) Eckstorm and Barbara Fortenbaugh; three grandchildren, Todd (Kim) Niersel, Tyson (Shanon) Niersel and Teresa (Troy) LaDouce; six great-grandchildren, Jasmin and Spencer Niersel, Jordan, Jylyssa, Mitchel and Mason LaDouce. “Graps” will be missed by all, including Missy, his beloved dog. He is also survived by a sister, Betty (Bob) Guziak and brother-in-law, Max (Pat) Rusher and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. He was predeceased by his brothers, Kenneth, Robert and a sister, Vera The funeral liturgy will take place at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, February 6, 2010 at St. Mary Catholic Church, Hemlock. Rev. Fr. Joseph Schabel will officiate with burial in Roselawn Memorial Gardens with military services under the auspices of Hemlock-Merrill VFW Post No. 7302. Friends may visit with the family on Friday from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. at W. L. Case & Company, 201 N. Miller Road and at church on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until the time of the service. The family requests that memorial donations be made to Michigan’s Own Military Museum in Frankenmuth, MI or St. Bernadette Catholic Church of Stanton in lieu of flowers.