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Posted on 08.05.2014 11:25 a.m.

Donald Detwiler of Santa Barbara, 1920-2014

Source: Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels

A Santa Barbara resident since 1952, Donald M. Detwiler died on Aug. 3, 2014.

Don Detwiler
Donald Detwiler

Born in Glenrock, Wy., on April 23, 1920, he was 94 years old. No one was a better neighbor, in every good sense of the word.

A funeral Mass for his family and many friends to celebrate Don’s life will be at the Old Mission Santa Barbara at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8. Interment will be private.

Don’s wife, Mary Alice Detwiler, died in 2005. They are survived by their son, Peter (Carrie), and their daughter, Cathy, in addition to three grandsons, Stephen (Beth), Eric (Lisa) and James Armijo (Megan). There are five great-grandchildren.

Don’s extended family included his sister-in-law, Ayako Detwiler, and many nieces and nephews. He was especially close to his nephew Murray Darby of Missouri and niece Mary Ann Zegers of Santa Barbara.

After growing up in Compton and graduating from Santa Barbara State College in 1942, Don served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Assigned to the 390th Bomb Group, he was a ball turret gunner on a bomber based in England. When a German fighter shot down his B-17, Don parachuted to safety but spent a month as a prisoner of war. In his final years, he reunited with his fellow crew members, all of whom were POWs.

Don and Mary Alice married at the Old Mission in 1946 while they were teachers in Tulare County. After their children were born, they moved back to Santa Barbara in 1952. Don worked for the Santa Barbara County Health Department until he retired in 1983. He was particularly proud of his role in protecting the public health with his inspections of local restaurants, public pools, water systems and sewer plants. Don was widely known along the South Coast for his strict standards but good humor.

In retirement, Don was a marvelous grandfather who loved traveling with Mary Alice. Always generous with his time, he also quietly volunteered for OASIS and DAWG.

Don’s family deeply appreciates the compassionate care he received from Claudia Zepperi.

In lieu of flowers, Don invited memorial donations to Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga or another charity of your choice.

Arrangements entrusted to Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels.

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