Cover photo for Donald Zordel's Obituary
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1939 Donald 2023

Donald Zordel

August 14, 1939 — February 8, 2023

Mr. Donald Zordel died peacefully on February 8, 2023

Mr. Zordel was born on August 14, 1939, in Eads, Colorado to Zell Albert and Edna Irene Zordel. The family moved to Ransom, Kansas where Don grew up. He graduated from Ransom High School in 1957.

After a couple of years working on farms in Kansas, Don joined the United States Navy in 1959 and served onboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Kearsarge with helicopter squadron HS-6 in the Pacific theater. One of  Don’s and the crew's first missions was humanitarian, rescuing survivors of the powerful Isewan Typhoon that displaced 50,000 and killed 5,000.

During Don's time aboard the Kearsarge, he was part of the anti-submarine operations during the Laos-SEATO crisis in 1960-61.  As a crew member of the Kearsarge, Don was also part of the early Air Cavalry Gunship rotations in Vietnam. Don’s favorite Naval story was the recovery of astronaut Wally Schirra after his Mercury-Atlas 8 mission on October 3rd, 1962.

Don was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1963 but remained a reservist until 1966. After his active-duty Don came to live in Aspen, CO with several of his brothers, Don came from a large family of 10 brothers and one sister. In Aspen, Don continued his public service as a policeman for the city and as a Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy. In Aspen Don had many famous encounters dancing with Ann Margret, doing work on Marshall Dillon’s (James Arness) car, and showing Rock Hudson around town.

After his time working in Aspen Don caught an itch to travel and toured the American west and Pacific Northwest. It was then he met Colena Haines and they married in 1966 They lived in the state of Washington where their son Zell was born in 1968. They then moved to Denver, and he went to work in construction. Don and Colena then welcomed their daughter Cuprina in 1971.

For many years Don worked for Kenney Construction Company based in Denver, his work for them is now foundational in Colorado. Don was the lead supervisor in the construction of over 100 bridges, overpasses and culverts on Interstate 70 and Interstate 25. He also built structures in Utah and Wyoming.

When the construction boom in Colorado faltered after Black Sunday, May 2nd, 1982 Don moved his family to Western Colorado and took it upon himself to provide for his family, working for himself for a few years doing drywall in the ski towns unaffected by the faltering economy elsewhere. Tiring of being on the road so much, Don took a position with Talbott Enterprises in New Castle in 1986 where he remained until his health forced retirement at the age of 78 in 2018.

At the same time he went to work for Talbott’s he took on the task of being a volunteer fireman and rose to be the commander of Burning Mountain Fire Protection District, which is now Colorado River Fire and Rescue, in 1988. He served the community in this position for the next 15 years. During this time, he helped create joint operations for Garfield County’s Emergency services. He was instrumental in the development of the emergency communications center, the hiring of full-time firemen, and the merger of the Rifle and Burning Mountain departments into the larger Colorado River Fire. Don retired from the fire department as chief in 2003.

Don grew up among the farms of Kansas and Eastern Colorado and in his heart part of him was always there. He was an outdoorsman who also fell in love with the mountains of Colorado and even the high desert of Garfield and Mesa counties. He was a devoted family man always being there for his parents, siblings, his in-laws but most especially his children and grandchildren.

Don is survived by his son Zell and daughter-in-law Elizabeth, daughter Cuprina and son-in-law James, grandsons Zackary and Christian, great-granddaughter Moxlei, and hundreds of nieces, nephews, and friends.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donald Zordel, please visit our flower store.

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