Don was born in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, Canada as the only child of Fred and Flavia Speirs. As the son of hard working farm owners, long days of work were not uncommon. Growing up, Don had a fascination with airplanes, machinery and motorcycles. After turning 21, Don moved to Calgary where he worked and saved enough money to purchase a gravel trunk.
In the early 1960's, Don threw caution to the wind and moved to Southern California. One of his first jobs was delivering milk in Pasadena. Later he decided he wanted to take some Technical Illustration classes so he supported himself by driving taxi during the day and attending classes at night. After he completed the classes, Don began driving gravel and "ready mix" cement trucks again. In 1966, Don married Catherine Lane. Together they had two children, Sherri and Staci. With a growing family, Don set out to attain his General Contractors license. In 1976 he achieved his goal.
In 1977, Don moved the family north to Lake of the Pines. Don put his general contractor's license to work and built a family home at Lake of the Pines. Within some documentation found after Don had passed, there was diagrams of the house he built with each room labeled with measurements and who's bedroom was where. After forming his own company and performing a number of general contracting jobs, Don returned to driving trucks until he retired in Auburn.
During his life, Don was an avid sports fan. He took great interest in NASCAR, NFL, NHL and body building. From his early life in Southern California, Don also enjoyed riding his motorcycle and continued to do until he passed. Don was also a very compassionate man giving donations to Disabled Veterans and March of dimes. To the younger generation, Dons advice was to "Stay home, watch TV, save money". His outlook on life was "There are better days coming".
Don is survived by his two daughters, Sherri Reynolds & Staci Speirs and his grandchildren Travis Miller & Marina Chadwick.
A story from Don's daughter...
My dad was an amazing man, I always knew that, but until recently, I never knew just how amazing he was. He passed away on April 2nd 2013, a day that will forever leave a hole in my heart. I was left with the devastating task of having to clean out his apartment and sort through his belongings. My dad never threw away anything, I sorted through 80 years of history in a few agonizing days. Dad was very much "old school" and kept impeccable records. He never owned a computer so everything was written out with pen on paper and neatly piled on the table in certain categories. His typewriter from 1931 is still as good as new and was carefully stored in the garage. His filing cabinet had neatly organized tax returns filed by date beginning in 1975. He had folders for every home he ever lived in dating back to the 1960's, Orange Grove, Dickens St., Sapphire Way, Torrey Pines, Galena Drive. So much history.
The house on Torrey Pines was my earliest memory. My parents moved to Auburn from Southern California in 1977, two months before I was born. My dad had his general contractors license and bought lot # 549 in Lake of the Pines, a beautiful gated community in Auburn. I found the paperwork from Heart Federal Savings and Loan. It was received one year later in 1978 and approved for $51,975, which was the cost to build our house from the concrete slab to the composition roof. It was then that he built our family home. It was a four bedroom, two bath house on a beautiful lot that backed up to the wilderness, which allowed for the occasional doe and her fawn to visit us through the sliding glass door in our breakfast nook. I remember many nights spent sitting on my daddy's knee at the piano. He would play a myriad of songs while I would pretend to know the words and sing along. I remember the fireplace always illuminated our family room as mom would fill the kitchen with the delicious smell of dinner.
He was always so proud of that house, and rightfully so. It was a big accomplishment for him to build his own home with his own hands after earning the license to do so. I recently discovered however that there was a second lot, #706! He was hired to build another home for someone else. I also learned that he started his own company shortly thereafter, it must have been in the very early 1980's. I found company checks from Speirs Construction LLC. I felt dismayed when I found these, how could I have not known about this? There was this huge exciting part of his life that I never knew, or never took the time to learn. He often reminisced about the time that he had is contractors license and would mention some of the jobs that he had done, but I never knew just how much he had accomplished. He did tell me, however, that it was short lived because the economy began to suffer and he was forced to go back to driving truck when he could not get enough work as a contractor.
I discovered many interesting branches of my family tree while sorting through my dads collections. Amongst the family photos, some of which dated as far back as the late 1800's, slides, newspaper clippings and old letters, I uncovered some interesting information. My Grandmother was born in October 1899. She married my Grandfather in 1925. Together they raised racing horses and purebred Holstein cattle while they ran their dairy farm in Shaunavon SK, Canada. My dad told many stories about growing up on the farm as a boy, riding his Shetland pony to school in the snow, and about how much hard work there was to be done.
He spoke of a more simple time, when honesty, hard work, and the love of a good woman was all a man needed. He told of the hired help that was always working on the farm. They had a kitchen girl who helped his mom in the house. They worked hard all day cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for the men on the farm. They made everything from scratch, and used real butter and cream, fresh off the farm. By the time they were done serving and cleaning up after breakfast, it was time to start on lunch, and the same for dinner. The men meanwhile would work outside on the farm from dusk to dawn. Dad told me that they had two or three hired men, his dad (my granddad) and his uncle Archie. My dad would work on the farm after school and on Saturdays. I would smile every time he would tell me these stories, it was like watching an episode of the little house on the prairie, and I sometimes wondered just how much of it was true. This way of life was hard for me to comprehend, it was nothing like the world that I grew up in. However, after going through all of this history, page by page, I can say with confidence that every word my daddy ever told me about life on the farm was 100 percent true. I would give anything to hear him tell it to me one more time.
While going through the apartment, I also ran across a pilot log book. My heart sank as I remembered his stories of a young man who longed to be a big shot pilot. My dad loved cars, trucks, motorcycles and air planes, especially WW II planes. The log book was dated May 9th 1961 in Calgary, Canada. He was 28 years old, and logged many in-flight hours. His first solo flight took place on July 2nd 1961. I asked him once why he never pursued his dream of becoming a pilot. He was told that almost all pilots that are hired by airlines or as private jet pilots are recruited from the military, which I believe is still true today. He moved to the U.S. Shortly after he stopped his flying lessons, and by the time he had gained legal immigrant status, he had decided that the military was just not in his future, nor was the hope of becoming a pilot.
My dad may not have been a war hero, a pilot, or even a big shot CEO of his own construction company, but he was my hero. I have learned so much more about him since his passing then I ever did before. He was a humble man, that I knew, but I had no idea how much he gave of himself to others. My dads "old School" ways led him to have the bank return all of his cashed checks back to him. The rest of us check our accounts online to see whether or not a check has cleared the account, not dad. He used to tell me that once the bank was done with his checks, he wanted them back because that way he knew right where they were. He kept each and every check that he had ever written. They were all in numerical order by date and subject and piled one on top of the other and held together with large paper clips. He had four piles, one of household bills, one of checks that were written to me, one pile to my mother, and one to the charities that he funded.
He gave to the: Disabled Veterans of America, V.F.W., Paralyzed Vets of America, American Legion groups, National Federation of the Blind, The March of Dimes, Easter Seals, Cancer Research Center, The M.S. Foundation, The Placer County Sheriff's Department, World Wide Pictures, Billy Gram, and several local churches. I could not begin to try to add up how much he sent them over the years, it would break my calculator. Out of the four piles, the one with which he paid his own bills, was by far, the smallest. The bed that he slept in was over 40 years old, the bath towels that he used were my old beach towels from when I was six, they were of mini mouse and donald duck. Many of the kitchen appliances and dinner wear were wedding gifts that he and my mom acquired over 40 years ago. He gave to everyone else, and made do with what he had.
He was not just my dad, he was my best friend. He was the most open, honest, supportive, caring and loving person that I have ever known. I don't know how I will spend the rest of my life without him, but I know that I will be a better person because of him. He was taken from me so quickly that I never got to say goodbye or thank you or I love you. He will live in my heart and in my memories forever. I love you daddy.