Don grew up in the city of Massillon, in Northern Ohio, where he attended Faith Lutheran Church. Following high school, he attended Hocking Technical College where he studied Recreation and Wildlife Management.
During the summers of high school and college, he worked as a counselor and as part of the support staff at Lutheran Memorial Camp (LMC). Following college he worked a year on the year-round staff of LMC doing maintenance. It was during this time that he first realized a calling to work with youth.
After leaving LMC, Don underwent training to become a Tentmaker. After training, he served for two years at Paynesville Lutheran Church, in Paynesville, MN, as its youth director. He also worked part-time at the town newspaper/printshop running a small printing press. Following the departure of the paper’s chief photographer, he taught himself photography and filled in as needed.
Returning to Ohio, Don again worked at LMC for several years, serving as a summer camp program director and on the environmental education staff during the rest of the year. During this time he met his wife to be, Paula (Cilley).
Having decided that maybe he could make a living being a photographer, he decided to attend school in Kettering, OH, at the Ohio Institute of Photography, where he studied commercial photography. One of the side benefits of this was that it wasn’t too far from Miami University, where Paula was attending school.
Following marriage and Paula’s graduation from Miami U., they settled in Kettering where Paula got a teaching job. They joined Good Shepherd in 1989 and immediately began volunteering with the youth program. They were also active in other areas of church life with Don serving on multiple committees and church council. During this time, the call to youth ministry kept getting stronger. In 2001, when the position became open, Don couldn’t ignore the call and applied for and received the position of Director of Youth and Family Ministry.
Don enjoys photography and served many years as a photographer for the Kettering Fairmont Marching Firebirds band. He also enjoys singing and playing guitar and other stringed instruments. A new hobby for him is woodworking where he especially enjoys following in the footsteps of his father by making wooden crosses. He especially enjoys volunteering and serves on the board of Jeremiah’s Letter, is a member of the Dayton Police PACT program, and a member of the Dorwood Optimists.