August 14, 2020 at 11:39 a.m.
After high school (Class of 1955), Don enrolled at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point which was about 35 miles west of Waupaca. It was the first university in America to offer a Bachelor's Degree in Conservation.
After graduating from UW-SP, Don signed a contract to teach conservation and sciences at Edgar A. Guest Junior High School in Detroit. Detroit was paying a $1000 "signing bonus" because science teachers were in short supply at the time. Don won a National Science Foundation Award for "Innovative Teaching" and with the award earned his Master's Degree at the University of Michigan and taught there in the School of Natural Resources during his summers.
Four years later, Don signed a contract to work for the new Milwaukee Public Museum -- the fourth largest natural history museum in the United States. As associate curator of education and conservation, Don produced and conducted museum diorama-oriented classes for school groups and workshops, directed the Wednesday Night Lecture Series during the winter, guided bird hikes in City of Milwaukee parks and the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge during the spring, and produced feature-length natural history movies as the Museum's cinematographer year round. Don liked being in the fields and woods and marshes most of all. Giving illustrated lectures with his movies to sportsman's groups, PTAs, university classes, hunting clubs, and other adult groups was a museum-provided service to groups that met regularly within the city limits.
In 1972, the Schlitz Foundation presented the National Audubon Society with approximately 200 acres on the shore of Lake Michigan nine miles north of Milwaukee. It is a choice piece of land with five major ecosystems. The Foundation also gave the Society several million dollars to build "the best Nature Center in America." Don was hired as the Center's first director. That was Don's job description -- "build the best nature center in America." They said to try and do it four years. Three years later, they said, "You did it!" Don never dreamed that after he left the Center to complete his doctorate at Marquette University after eight years at the Schlitz Audubon Center, it would morph into the full-blown education center it has become today!
After graduating from Marquette, Don accepted his first school superintendent job in a little Scandinavian hamlet between Bemidji and Thief River Falls, MN named Gonvick. He spent eight years in Gonvick. Like Don Bungum from Chisago Lakes Public Schools, this Don was also inducted into the Bush Fellowship Awards Program for School Administrators.
Throughout these formative years, Don continued his outdoor pursuits with his Black Labrador Retriever. He has had a few black lab females. When a school superintendency opened in Redfield, South Dakota, Don threw his hat in the ring.
The Ring-Neck Pheasant was first introduced successfully in the United States in Redfield, SD and Don had the yearn, the dog, and the shotgun. He got the job and some of the best hunting and fishing he ever had was in the Redfield environs -- largely thanks to his "Sniper Buddy" who owned the "Bread Box Bakery" and took Don under his wing as guide for several years
Don is now in his mid-eighties. He ice-fished Green Lake this winter, golfs Chisago Lakes Golf Course, but they have lived less than a year in Lindstrom. Don and his wife Phyllis absolutely adore their townhome and living in Lindstrom! Their daughter, youngest of their nine children, lives on Morgan Avenue. She and her husband found Don and Phyllis a townhome in Lindstrom near the high school. With grandchildren in junior and senior high school, school music and athletic events now comprise their "social calendar" nine months of the year.
At book signings, Don is frequently asked "Why did you write Come Autumn?" He usually replies, "I wish my father and grandfathers would have written about their interests. When it finally dawned on me that now I am both a father and a grandfather -- and now great grandfather (nine children, 30 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren), I thought maybe I should jot some hunting and fishing experiences down for my progeny." Don enjoyed writing, but has no plans to write another book.
Until recently, the two families were living just east of Hudson. Their daughter, son-in-law and five grandchildren moved to Lindstrom. After finding her folks a townhome, their daughter and son-in-law and many of their friends painted and refurbished the entire townhome, moved them in, and Don and Phyllis have had more socializing in Lindstrom in less than a year than ever before. Not only their wonderful church friends and neighbors, but community activities like fish frys, Art-in-the-Park, school functions, farmers' markets, "Karl Oskar things," and the lakes.
Don's book, Come Autumn, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Up North Art Gallery in downtown Lindstrom. Don is happy to personalize and autograph your book if you would like him to.