Don Fife

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August 15, 1932 – July 15, 2014

Don Fife, a 12-year resident of Davis, passed away July 15, 2014, in Sacramento, after a long illness. His last days were supported by Sutter Hospice and spent among family, friends, and his cat, Bonnie. 

Don was born August 15, 1932 in Cedar City, Utah to Lucille Evans Fife and Lewis Fife. He grew up in Reno with his parents and older siblings, Norma (Metz) Fife (deceased) and Brent Fife (deceased).

Don was an outstanding high school athlete and earned a scholarship to play football allowing him to attend Purdue University. At Purdue, he double-majored in Economics and Physics while playing center and linebacker for the Boilermakers.

Don enlisted in the U.S. Army and served (1952-1954) in active duty with the 5th Regimental Combat Team during the Korean War. After returning from Korea he completed his graduate degree in English from Purdue University and married Nancy Jane Harriman on May 30, 1956 in West Lafayette, Ind.

That year, he signed and played with the Cleveland Browns until an injury ended his professional football career in 1959. After leaving football, his professional life turned to business. His business career consisted of administrative positions in finance, human and industrial relations within the aerospace and computer industries.

For many years, he and Nancy lived in Claremont, where their daughters were raised. The small college town afforded many opportunities not to be missed. For the family, it became the hub for art and music excursions, Sunday drives to the countryside, hiking near Mt. Baldy, camping, and day trips to the beach.

After 18 years, Don’s career transitioned to Las Vegas, where he worked for the Summa Corporation. Long-time residents of Las Vegas, they liked the climate and Don loved working in the yard creating a little oasis in the desert.

After some years of retirement, Don and Nancy moved to Davis to be closer to family. In addition to his love of sports, Don enjoyed telling stories of growing up during the diminishing days of the “Wild West” — his pet coyote, “King,” having a sheriff for a father, and tales of Virginia City would have those around him captivated.

Always an animal lover, a rescue or two were part of the household. He will be remembered for his sharp wit, sense of humor and empathy for those with less opportunity than the norm.

He is survived by his daughters, Mauri (Michael) Anderson of Davis, Shelley (Glenn) Morrison of Maricopa, Ariz., and Linda Fife of Davis; and his grandson Evan Don Janik of Davis. After 58 years of marriage, his wife Nancy Jane Fife preceded him in death by only 16 hours.

Our family would like to thank Don’s caregiver of several years, Akuila Vabasi. Through Don’s decline, Akuila offered him friendship, laughter and most importantly, dignity.

Family and friends are invited to share in celebrating a life well lived at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, at Stonegate Country Club, 919 Lake Boulevard in Davis.

Special to The Enterprise

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