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Official Obituary of

Don Arthur Aronson

August 25, 1931 ~ February 8, 2023 (age 91) 91 Years Old

Don Aronson Obituary

Don Arthur Aronson passed away on February 8, 2023 at the age of 91. He was born in Escanaba on August 25, 1931, the son of Arthur and Elin Aronson. With only brief interruptions, he lived his entire life in Escanaba. He was a beloved teacher and faithful church organist.

Don graduated from Escanaba High School in 1949 and Northern Michigan University in 1954 with a BS in Education. He later earned a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education.

Don’s first teaching job was in the school where he student taught, Whitman Elementary in Marquette. During that stint, he commuted to Escanaba every weekend to play organ at Bethany Lutheran Church. After a particularly difficult, snowy commute, Don decided to seek a teaching job in Escanaba. In 1967, he secured a classroom in the new wing at Lemmer Elementary, and for the next 53 years, he taught 6th, 5th, and 4th grades in that room.

Over the course of his career, Don funded many field trips and received many awards, including UP Teacher of the Year, Outstanding Person in Education, and a Certificate of Special Recognition from the Escanaba City Council.

In 2010, after 56 years of teaching, Don retired. Upon his retirement, the state of Michigan awarded him a Special Tribute Award. The plaque reads, “Don never considered his teaching as work.” Don himself said, “I believe that if children believe you are interested in them, they will learn regardless of the methods used. I am very strict, but we have lots of fun.

His teaching career might best be summed up in the words one of his 6th grade students embroidered on a plaque for him: “A teacher affects eternity. No one can tell where his influence ends.”

In addition to teaching, Don dedicated his life to playing the organ at Bethany Lutheran Church. He began in 1946 as a 15 year old. Initially, he played for the Swedish service and the children’s choir, and after a year, he began playing for all the services. Even during his time in the Army, he continued as a faithful musician by serving almost 2 years as interim organist at Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco.

In addition to playing the organ, Don served his church community in many ways. When he needed knee replacement surgery, he recorded all his music for the Sundays he would miss. He also accompanied the Senior Choir, played piano for the Youth Choir, and directed the confirmation Bell choir. Plus, he kept attendance records, taught confirmation classes, and started the annual Confirmation trip to Chicago. Additionally, he trained and assigned acolytes and people to run the church sound system for radio broadcasts. He liked to stay busy, and it was with reluctance he retired as organist in December 2019 after serving for 73 years.

Beyond teaching and music, Don was a very active, organized person who was never late. Beginning in 5th grade, he often mowed the lawn in Ludington Park on the big riding mower. When he was in high school, Radio Station WDBC had a large window where the records were played, both on Ludington Street and, later, at the park where the museum building currently stands. Don was a disc jockey in the evening and people would watch him through the window.

He lovingly spent time with his nieces and nephew and, later, great-nieces and great-nephews. They spent many hours at the playground in Ludington Park. During the summer, his home was invaded by his sister and family from Dallas. The kids (Dallas and Escanaba cousins) totally messed up his house with toys, noise, TV shows, and backyard circuses, but he never complained. He kept his car immaculate, and the kids quickly learned the frequent ice cream cones he treated them to had to be finished before they got back into it. He enjoyed going on trips and took family and friends to Greenfield Village, Chicago, Wisconsin Dells, Door Country, the Soo, and many other places. He also took other trips to destinations including San Francisco, where he was stationed in the Army, Washington DC, and New York.

To those who called him Uncle Donny, he is a very special person. He loved his family, and they loved him.

He is survived by his sister, Ann Strieter (Fred); nieces, Susie Strieter and Nancy Schaffer (Dean); and great nieces, Samantha Brock (Colin) and Shannon Schaffer, his brother-in-law, Ralph B.K. Peterson; nieces and nephew, Erika Peterson-Veatch (Ross), Britt Ann Peterson (Thad Murrah), and Nils Jon Oscar Peterson (Paisley); and great-nieces and nephews, Oscar and Arthur Peterson-Veatch, Annika and Tess Murrah, and Tekla, Freyja, and Malin Peterson.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur and Elin Aronson and his sister, Jean Aronson Peterson

Visitation will be held from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday, February 18, 2023 at Bethany Lutheran Church in Escanaba. Funeral services celebrating the life of Don will follow at 4:00 p.m., Saturday, with Rev. Lily Brondyke officiating. Don’s service can be viewed via livestream at 4:00 p.m., Saturday, on the Bethany Lutheran Church Facebook Page: A luncheon will be served at the conclusion of the services in the church fellowship hall. The family requests memorial gifts be given to the “Bethany Lutheran Church, Organ Fund.” Burial will take place in Lakeview Cemetery in Escanaba. 

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February 18, 2023

2:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Bethany Lutheran Church
202 South 11th Street
Escanaba, MI 49829

Funeral Service
February 18, 2023

4:00 PM
Bethany Lutheran Church
202 South 11th Street
Escanaba, MI 49829


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