Donald L. Arkell

Born: Wed., May 30, 1917
Died: Thu., Dec. 3, 2009

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Donald Lester Arkell – a resident of Pendleton died on Thursday, December 3, 2009 at a Milton-Freewater care facility. He was 92 years old. A Funeral Service will be conducted at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at Burns Mortuary Chapel in Pendleton, followed by interment at Olney Cemetery in Pendleton. Contributions in memory of Donald Arkell may be made to the Pendleton Round-Up Hall of Fame or to the United Methodist Church Memorial Fund, and may be sent in care of Burns Mortuary of Pendleton, PO Box 489, Pendleton, OR 97801. Send condolences to the family or sign the register at, Burns Mortuary of Pendleton is in charge of arrangements. Donald was born in Pendleton, OR on May 30, 1917 to H.C. "Hank" and Ethel Johnson Arkell. He was the second of five children. He attended elementary school at Nolin, OR, and at the age of 8 or 9 learned to harness and drive the mule teams for field work, and to pull his father's combines. He loved his own horse named "Happy Jack" who was killed by the train passing the school where he was attending. As a teenager he first learned auto mechanics by making a car that the family could use out of 3 discarded vehicles. Don drove teams pulling wagons loaded with sacked wheat during the harvest. He worked during Round-Up feeding stock; saddling and snubbing horses during the NW bucking contests in the arena. He also rode on the stage coach for several years to help train and hold the young teams. Don graduated from Pendleton High School in 1935, where he enjoyed playing football. He married Blanche V. Bellinger on July 15, 1941. The couple had two children; daughter Verneda L. Wagner and son D. Keith Arkell. They were happily married for 52 years until her death on July 29, 1993, following a 5 year bout with cancer. He was baptized and confirmed into the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and was quite active at times, as his wife was a Sunday school teacher. In the early years he was a heavy duty mechanic for Braden & Bell Equipment. During this time he often flew a "BT" basic trainer plane from the airfield bus barns near Mission into back country logging and mining operations, to repair or bring needed parts for the heavy equipment. Don joined the Army Engineers as they started work on McNary Dam. During the VanPort floods, he welded the coffer dams to keep the river water from going down the river and causing more flooding. He also played on a local baseball team in his spare time. After breaking his back for a second time, he moved back to Pendleton to mechanic for Carroll Equipment Co. His next job for several years was with Pendleton Auto Parts; where he was the outside parts salesman and later ran the machine shop. For a time he taught diesel mechanics at BMCC. He then opened "Don's Automotive Machine Shop"; which he ran until his retirement. He enjoyed remanufacturing parts for antique cars that were no longer available. He was a perfectionist in all that he did! Don's father Hank, was on the Pendleton Police Force for 28 years, and drove the Ambulance 24 hours a day-seven days a week. Don often helped by going on runs and furnishing extra vehicle during local rodeos. He volunteered on the Round-Up stretcher crews. He was on the Tech. committee for the "Hard-Top" car races held in the Round-Up grounds. After his retirement, he could be found driving truck during wheat harvest, and driving crawler tractors tilling fields to generate additional income. Don loved to square dance and was a square dance caller for several years. He could play a jaw harp, harmonica, piano, cord organ, and guitar; all strictly by ear. His parents had a dance band when he was a child; making music came naturally. He learned to "tat" from his great-grandmother and was adept at darning socks and upholstering seat covers and furniture. He loved to stream fish in his younger years and tied the flies he used. Another hobby during that time was building and flying remote controlled airplanes; which he flew in the field by Washington grade school. He took pride in a well-groomed yard filled with beautiful flowers. As a Boy Scout leader, he taught camping, leather craft and wood burning. Golfing was another of his hobbies that he truly enjoyed, specially letting the gray schnauzer of his daughter's ride with him in the golf cart. Only in the last fourteen years he has not had a dog or cat, or both at the same time living with him. He and his father hung many a sheet of wall-paper over the years; and plumbing, wiring, roofing, painting and general carpentry – made him a "Jack of all trades"; never a need to call a repair man. He even built a motorized lawnmower after seeing one in a photo, welding a platform over a reel mower and attaching the gas motor to the reel. It was heavy to push though! Don enjoyed his two grand-daughters' and always tried to attend all of their sports and horse events. His first great-grandson was born on his wife's birthday, one year after her death. Four more great-grandchildren followed. On Labor Day, September 1995, he married Della Fanshier Wright; who at the time was his son's mother-in-law. Don inherited another step-daughter, besides his daughter-in-law, and two step-grand daughters. Through this marriage he joined the Methodist Church, where he was active for a time. In April of this year, a fall over a planter box fractured his femur. Since then, he has resided in Evergreen Rehab Center in Milton-Freewater, OR. He loved to go on car rides with his daughter in the "red thing"; her '09 Dodge Journey. The thrill of the summer came when a ride to the harvest field let him watch his grand sons-in-law harvesting wheat. He took delight in wheeling around the parking lot in his wheel chair, trying to decide which car to buy even if they weren't for sale. He was always making a list of what to repair as he rolled the hallways there. Don is survived by his wife Della Arkell, brother William "Bill" Arkell and wife Marie, daughter Verneda Wagner, son D. Keith Arkell and wife Charlene, grand daughters; Wendy Sorey and husband Tom, Whitney Porter and husband Kevin, great-grandchildren; Pake Sorey, Emily Sorey, Trent Sorey, Andrew Porter, and Hallie Porter; ten nieces and nephews: Larry & Lynn Leinbach, Ken & Sherry Arkell, John, Cathy & Rick Etter, Garth Arkell, Candace Fenton & Kelly Arkell; step-daughter Charlene Arkell and step son-in-law Pat Fleming, step-grand daughters: Jenni Fleming and friend Morgan Long, and Kacie Fleming. Don was preceded in death by his parents Hank & Ethel Arkell, wife Blanche, sisters; Iva May Leinbach and Sue Etter, Brother Jerry Arkell, and step-daughter Karla Fleming.

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