Don was born in Napa, California on October 29, 1930 at Parks Victory Hospital to Frank and Lorraine "Lee" Townsend.
He was an only child raised on Brown St & attended Shearer school, Silverado Jr. High and Napa High school.
Don was active in all sports throughout his school years, excelling as a pitcher in baseball, quarterback in football & basketball at Napa High. During this time, he was chosen to pitch in the first Examiner All Stars at the old Seals stadium. He was also selected to the West Coast All Stars in 1948 playing three football games in Hawaii, winning 2 of the games. Don was also honored by being the second person selected to be entered into the newly formed Napa High Athletic Hall of Fame.
After high school he continued his education at the University of San Francisco in 1949. During his college years he played football and baseball. He was always proud to have been a part of the 1951 football team that was invited to play in the Orange Bowl because the team was undefeated and untied. Their two African American players were however uninvited. So, the entire team refused to attend. Black Lives Mattered even in 1951 to this great football team. When Don left USF in 1953, he signed a baseball contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, playing in the Cardinal chain for four years. He decided at that time he needed to return home to help care for and be near his growing family.
Don started his new career working at the Bank of America on First St. and after a few years moved over to work as a Deputy Sheriff becoming the first Deputy Sheriff assigned as the liaison to the Napa County school system. Later in his career he was promoted to the position of Captain, in charge of investigations. During this time, he worked on many high- profile cases including Willie the woodcutter and the Zodiac. Every murder he worked on was solved except the Zodiac killings.
After he retired from his law enforcement years, he joined Burns International Security Company as Manager in their control center. After a few years with Burns, Don moved on to the security team at Kaiser Steel, until they discontinued business ten years later. He then worked for Computer Land in the bay area handling security for all of their locations. Later accepting a Security Manger position at Nestle Corp. at Beringer Winery, retiring in 1992.
Don and Evelyn Franco were married in 1952 and together they had three children, Mark, Lori and Anthony (Tony). They lost Tony in a tragic automobile accident in 1978 at the age of 20. During their 44 years of marriage, they enjoyed building a home together on Kirkland Ave. and spent many wonderful times traveling to Europe- Switzerland and Hawaii where they visited relatives. After 44 years of a loving wonderful marriage Don lost Evelyn to ALS in 1996.
After time passed, Don renewed his longtime friendship with Alene Casassa, they had worked together along with their spouses on religious & other fund raisers. With the support and blessings of mutual friends and family they were married in 1998 at St. Apollinaris Church, surrounded by their loving family and many, many friends, what a blessing that day was. Both were retired and enjoyed traveling throughout Europe and Hawaii many times. They were so happy together and wanted their families to get to know each other, so they planned and hosted a special vacation trip to Hawaii for all of their blended families so that they could get acquainted with each other, what an amazing time.
Don always said "I have had the blessing of being married to two beautiful, absolutely wonderful women, what a great life I've had. "The good Lord gave me many incredible friends, two extraordinary families and living in the beautiful City of Napa all of my life"
Survivors include his loving wife Alene, his son Mark, daughter Lori, Grandson Anthony, Great Granddaughter Shaylin and Great Grandson Ian. He will long be remembered by his children and Alene's children, Robert Dalton (Carol), Barbara Sorensen (Tom), Michael Casassa (Lisa)and their children.
Don was an amazing man as he was both physically commanding and had a gentle soul at the same time. He was always considerate and caring of others, he was respected and loved, easy going, kind and generous especially with his families.
A memorial Mass will be held at St. Apollinaris Catholic Church at 1700 Lassen St. on Thursday July 1, 2021 at 10:00 am. A reception will follow in the church hall with a private interment at Tulocay cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to St Apollinaris Church, Napa High Alumni fund or any charity of your choice.
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