Donald Chester Dorrell

Donald Chester Dorrell was born to Claude Melvin and Sina Gilson Dorrell February 8, 1926. The Beaver Creek road was too muddy for the doctor to get through so Donald’s “Granny” delivered him. The Dorrell boys rode horses seven miles to the Beaver Creek School, and Donald was glad to ride bareback because the heat from the horse kept him warm. One of his first jobs was for the city of Rifle even though he was just a boy. In cold weather he would pack coal oil with him on the way to school and fill a lantern at the little shed that housed Rifle’s waterline diversion point. He would also check the lantern on the way home from school, and add chlorine to the line as needed. He graduated from Rifle Union High School in absentia because he enlisted in the U. S. Navy in 1944, before he turned 18. He was a rear seat gunner on a carrier based torpedo plane on the USS Enterprise. He was wounded when the Enterprise was attacked and was awarded the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Asiatic Pacific Commendation, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two stars, and the Victory Medal.

He returned home in May 1946 and married JoAnn Estes on November 23, 1947. They were sweethearts and one another’s best friend for over 69 years. Animals of every species were treated well on Donald and JoAnn’s ranch. In the summer it was a pleasure to watch the hummingbirds; keeping the feeders full was top priority. The other bird feeders were a fiesta for cowbirds, bluebirds, juncos and so many more. Of course the squirrels and turkeys got a bit more than their share — nobody went hungry on this ranch! Donald and JoAnn had names for the big bucks and special does that spent their spare time in the yard and around the feedlot. In the fall when they came down from the high country there was high hopes that everyone would be there for rollcall. Donald loved rodeo and rode the rough stock. He was All Around Champion many times, riding in weekend rodeos, driving home afterward to get back to the ranchwork awaiting him and JoAnn. Donald was as kind a cowboy as you could meet but was always tough enough and brave enough to get the job done. He had many a close call in rodeo and ranching but survived to tell the tale. He and JoAnn considered the County Fair their vacation. Donald served on the fair board for years, judged for the Junior Rodeo roughstock events and raced in the Cowhorse race, where the friendly rivalries added to the excitement.

Actually, excitement followed Donald everywhere. Family fishing trips to Trappers and Skinnyfish where Donald had been wrangler for his uncles Walt and Lon often led to other lakes and ponds even if there was no trail, just a general idea of which way to head. He liked being out on the water even if it meant finding an old raft that may have been left over from a different decade. Hunting and snowmobile trips with Donald are still the subject of many conversations with his family and friends. Donald will be remembered for his friendliness, honesty and tenacity. He lived each day as it came and was a mentor and father figure to many.

Donald was preceded in death by his wife JoAnn; his father, mother, brothers Clinton and Richard, sister-in-law and brother-in-law MaryJane and Norman Mead, nephews Bruce Dorrell and Loren Mead. He is survived by brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law Jim and Shelia Estes and Lee and Darlene Estes; sisters-in-law Barbara Dorrell and Marge Dorrell, eight nieces, five nephews, numerous other family members and many cherished friends. We are grateful for the wonderful care Donald received from the people at the Colorado Veterans Community Living Center. Thank you.

Memorial contributions may be made to the RIDE program, 2804 County Road 250, Silt, Co 81652, Colorado Veterans Community Living Center in Rifle or First Christian Church in Rifle.

A memorial service will be announced in the spring.

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