November 27, 1932 – December 24, 2020
Please use the below link to watch the livestream stream service Wednesday Dec. 30 at 1:00PM:
Don Malcolm Westerfield was born at home, Nov 27, 1932, in Hazel Park (a suburb of Detroit), Michigan, to Don and Margaret Westerfield, and grew up in the southeast Michigan area, along with his older sister, Norma (Burdick). His father was a manager in the Ford Rouge auto plant in Dearborn, and Don, like many kids his age, loved to work on cars. But while his buddies were working to make their cars faster and louder, Don said that he wanted to make his cars faster and quieter. His interest in auto mechanics served him well when, following his dad’s premature death in 1953, he enlisted in the US Army. Don served at Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, AL, assigned to work in the motor pool keeping the vehicles on base in good working order.
Meanwhile, Don and Edythe had met in Detroit, fell in love, and he gave her an engagement ring on her eighteenth birthday in 1953, just before he left for duty in Alaska. She was in nursing school at Harper Hospital in Detroit. They married that July, and following one of his military leaves the next year, she had to drop out of nursing school when she became pregnant. In December 1954, she flew to Alaska to join Don and give birth to their first child (Lois) at the Air Force Base hospital where he was stationed. She and baby flew home a few weeks later, where she stayed with her parents in Detroit until Don finished his military obligation. They rented a little apartment in Detroit, and Don got a job working on the assembly line at Cadillac Motor Car Division, on Clark Street, in Detroit. They soon settled into suburban life, bought a home in Garden City, Michigan, had 2 more kids (Pam and Rosalie), and later bought a larger home in Sterling Heights, Michigan just before baby number 4 (Don) arrived in 1963. Don worked full time at Cadillac, and on the weekends, worked at a Standard gas station to help make ends meet.
Later in the 1960’s, Don began attending night school at the local high school. His English term paper was on how television worked, another subject he was interested in, as evidenced by the piles of TVs, TV parts, radios, radio parts, car parts, tools, toolboxes, etc., on the workbenches in the basement and garage of the Sterling Heights house. If there was any order in that chaos, only he understood it. Still, he was a great mechanic and fix-it guy, even if organization was not his strong suit. He kept various TVs, radios, and used cars running for himself and other family members through the years. When he earned that high school diploma in 1968, he endured driving the Corvair his kids painted in typical high school fashion, sporting “Class of 1968,” and “Finally made it!” in white shoe polish.
Once all the kids were in school, he supported Edythe’s decision to go back to college and finish her nursing education, and she eventually became a Registered Nurse and worked full-time.
Vacations were important to Don and Edythe; early on there were a few trips to Illinois to visit with his dad’s brothers on their farms, or later, stays in a rented cabin on lakes in Northern Michigan. As the family grew, camping trips became the normal vacation routine, at first in tents at various campgrounds in and around Michigan. He also enjoyed annual fishing trips into Canada with buddies, staying in a cabin on Bright Lake in Thesselon, Ontario, a lake that he nicknamed Lake Laughing Fish, based on the usual dismal catch. Still, he enjoyed it so much that he convinced the rest of the family to take Bright Lake vacations for several summers. He and Edythe also bought a series of travel trailers, each one a little bigger, eventually, travelled throughout the entire continental United States. Their destinations frequently included the Daphne, Alabama area, where they would often visit with his sister and brother-in-law, Norma and Bill Burdick. Don and Edythe loved the Eastern Shore area and decided to make it their home once they both retired.
His last few years working at Cadillac were in Customer Will Call, meaning that he was a troubleshooting technician for the cars that executives drove. All the guys in that department were nearing retirement age, and luckily, so was their boss, who thoughtfully turned a blind eye to the afternoon naps that the fellows sometimes took in the back seat of Cadillacs. Don later said that a good boss and those afternoon naps made it possible for him to work over for 40 years. But retirement eventually came, and ever the tinkerer, he began working with some buddies, buying, and fixing wrecked cars. Once Edythe retired, they had a house built in Lake Forest, Daphne, AL, and for several years, were able to fly as seasonal snowbirds from Alabama back to Michigan for the summer and fall. They stayed busy in their local churches in both states. At Spanish Fort Presbyterian church, Don, along with the help of Bill Burdick, put his mechanical and tinkering skills to use at the church on many projects.
Aging and health issues began making it difficult for Don and Edythe to stay involved at the church as well as maintain a home; in 2018, they moved into an assisted living apartment at The Blake of Malbis. Don observed that he had outlived his father by nearly 40 years, due to modern medicine and mostly by being married to a good nurse. He loved his children and their families and enjoyed visits with them through the years. He loved Edythe dearly, and was near her when he passed away quietly last week following a battle with pneumonia caused by the COVID 19 virus. We are grateful for his long life and ready smile, and he will be dearly missed by the family and friends who knew and loved him.
Funeral service will be at Hughes Funeral Home, 26209 Pollard Road, Daphne, AL, at 1:00PM, Wednesday, December 30,2020. Family will receive friends beginning at 12:00 PM until time of service.
Expressions of condolence for the family may be made at www.hughesfh.com. Hughes Funeral Home, 26209 Pollard Road, Daphne, AL, is handling service arrangements for the family.