Don A. Pfeiffer, 81 passed away peacefully at home early Sunday morning, October 28, 2018. Known to his family and friends to be a man of profound strength and discipline, he was taken from us by a rare and incurable bone marrow failure disorder (MDS). Don was born on January 25, 1937 the son of Hans and Gladys (Fritchen) Pfeiffer – his father a German immigrant, his mother from a large Wisconsin-based family—a group of grounded individuals who proved formative for Don, leaving some of the most cherished memories in the wake of his childhood. After graduating from Proviso High School in Chicago he attended Indiana’s Valparaiso University as an engineering student… on a football scholarship. At the age of 23 he was hired by United Air Lines and enjoyed a flawless career spanning 37 years, retiring in 1997 as a highly regarded Captain of the iconic Boeing 747 and the number seven most senior pilot in the company. During his career Don also became an accomplished horseman, riding and training cutting horses. Before moving on from the sport, he became a qualified and sought-after judge and competed in the renowned Ft. Worth Futurity with Lonsum Leaping Lucy, a horse he trained himself. With his airline flying behind him, he entered the world of sport aviation where he owned and operated many unique aircraft and eventually built two airplanes. A natural pilot, his calm and skillful command of any flying machine was never the topic of debate. He became a respected friend and inspiration to his aviation family and a cherished member of his community at Bel Air Estates. Always an animal lover and never one to sit idly by his accomplishments, Don used his 70’s to master the sport of agility trials with his two dogs Taco and Dakota—he was both an accomplished competitor and instructor.
As an avid student of history, he kept close to his heart the struggles and triumphs of those who have suffered to survive and improve our world. He loved stories of people who overcame great adversity and stood in defiance of their apparent fate. This in conjunction with his life experiences was the foundation of his quiet strength and fortitude. More than anything else, Don was a beloved partner, father and friend. His steady presence and gentle smile will be deeply missed by all.
He is survived by his significant other, Sherry Putnam; four children, Kim, Noelle, Mark and Wynn; seven grandchildren, Chris, Nathan, Terran, Ian, Maris, Cole and Riley; and five great-grandchildren, Alina, Preston, Jaxon, Dominic and Eleanor. Don’s wife Charlene Pfeiffer preceded him in death on August 13, 2014.
A memorial gathering will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Friday, November 9, 2018 at Anderson Funeral and Cremation Services, 218 W. Hurlbut Avenue, Belvidere, IL. Memorial ceremony and reflection on Don’s life will be held at 3:00 p.m. with a post service gathering at the E.A.A. Hangar 5151 Orth Road, Poplar Grove, IL. Memorial contributions can be given to Mylodystplastic Foundation at MDS-Foundation.org or Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary at Noahsarkanimals.org