May 20, 1935 – July 12 2020
After dancing with cancer for many years Don peacefully left the dance floor as his loving family and wife of 59 years, Stella bid him adieu. Like a comet, Don lived fully and vibrantly
Don was born on the beloved Madigan family homestead on May 20th, 1935 to Gertrude (nee Helferty) and James P. Madigan. It was the height of the depression and black fly season on the rural family farm nestled on the banks of the mighty Madawaska River in Renfrew County, Ontario. They lived in a bustling farmhouse infused with the daily scent of 8 freshly baked loaves of bread cooling on the counter and the sound of a “kittle” crackling on the wood stove. Their home was fuelled with faith, joy and music. Renfrew County held his heart, the Madawaska Valley was his “Home”. He missed it dearly as his life unfolded and drew him to the city.
Opportunity and adventure called Don forward at every stage of his life. He began cutting his own trail at just 15 years old, when he left the farm for high school. His big heart, core faith values and grit guaranteed his success. He worked hard towards a tool and die trade on the Avro Arrow Program. In 1954 he transferred from Renfrew to Toronto to fill the need for apprentices. On June 4,1956, he joined the Metro Toronto Police Service to fulfil his calling to serve the community and protect the less fortunate. Don’s interest in people and his extroverted active, tenacious work ethic suited the job and propelled his successful 37-year career. “In the folly of youth,” Don was ecstatic to start his career in the motorcycle unit, but after six slushy months he warmly welcomed patrol cars. Don worked in both 14 and 11 Divisions, Headquarters, Fraud, Undercover, Criminal Investigation and Homicide Units. He served 37 years, was seconded to the Criminal Intelligence Services of Ontario and retired as a Detective Sergeant on July 30,1993. Through his work, Don said he met many wonderful people both professionally and personally. He had a great lifelong friendship with Shirley and Kevin (deceased) Boyd and Jean & Chief William (deceased) McCormack.In 1959 Don was directing traffic at Queen and Yonge, when his beautiful bride-to-be crossed the street. Stella Peplinski, from Renfrew County was also forging a new, modern life and career in the big city, training as a nurse. Don said police work brought him the love of his life. Together they raised four successful children with their shared core values of work hard, laugh often, and do good. His directions to his children were: “See it coming”, “Be Polite”, and “Lend a helping hand”.
Don was an avid volunteer in his community and mentor to his family. He had a zest for life, and cherished his family, friends and the outdoors. He rarely complained, was fearless and always had places to go, people to see, a job to do, an adventure planned, a chase underway or a party to attend. While raising four children with Stella and building a successful career, Don also served on the board of Sancta Maria House, volunteered at his home parish, Holy Spirit and, helped his siblings leave the farm and move to the city for better lives in his footsteps. There is no sound as sweet as Don whistling behind the wheel of his vehicle en route to his next adventure. His boundless giving nature explains why, in his scarce free time, Don usually arrived late, but always left them laughing with a twinkle in his eye.
Don gradually returned to his Renfrew County roots, including music. At 45 years old, he learned to play the violin at night school from the late Graham and Eleanor Townsend. Don was never so vibrant as when he was playing or listening to fiddle music. Upon retirement, he refurbished his mother’s family homestead farmhouse in Palmer Rapids. He joined the Renfrew County Fiddlers, the local Lions Club, served as president of Renfrew County Fiddlers and infused his exuberance into supporting the birthplace community of his Irish ancestors.
Don is survived by his four children and their spouses: Maureen and Dean Drevniok, Kevin and Debbie Madigan, Robert Madigan and Dr Sue Chappel , and John and Lynn Madigan; his nine grandchildren: Vanessa Van Decker, Bradley, Michael and Christine Madigan, Joe and Bridget Madigan and Julia Sarah Stone, Julia and John Jr. Madigan, and his seven siblings: Denis and Carmel (née Peplinski), Vince and Margo (née Donahue), Mary Huene and (late Otto Cohn), Bryan and Jean (née Dwyer), Teresa and Gerald Smith, Jack and Fran (née Dion), Mike and Lynda (née Walsh).
Don will be deeply missed by his in-laws: Desmond and (late Loyola née Quinn ) Peplinski, Carmel and Denis Madigan , Mary Anne Peplinski , Dominic and Anna Peplinski, Bernadette and Bill Halkett and Irene and Dick Hill , daughter-in-law Trish Labuda.
To honour and celebrate his life, Don asks you help a neighbour
If you wish to donate in his name please support the Palmer Rapids Area Lion’s Club who reach out to all in his beloved community.
As Don would say: “God Bless You”
A Celebration of Life will be held in Renfrew County when we can all meet again.
Due to Covid restrictions the visitation funeral and burial will be held with immediate family in Latchford Bridge, Ontario.
Condolences and tributes can be sent or viewed at Don’s online memorial, and notification of his celebration of life available at the address below.
A virtual event will commence at 10:35 a.m. Saturday July 18, 2020.
Check My Keeper, the website above, closer to the date for the link