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Posted on June 5, 2013 | 12:55 a.m.

Donald Lee Stillman of Santa Barbara

Source: Stillman Family

Donald Lee Stillman, whose life was characterized by continuing service to country, youth and church, passed away May 30, 2013. He was 90 years old.

Donald Lee Stillman was an Eagle Scout, a World War II aviator and POW, and San Marcos High School's first principal.
Donald Lee Stillman was an Eagle Scout, a World War II aviator and POW, and San Marcos High School’s first principal.

Don loved Santa Barbara and its history. He looked back fondly on those early days when much of downtown Santa Barbara was farmlands and oak-crested hills. Many of his lifelong friends came from Santa Barbara High School’s class of 1939 and ‘40. In 1990, he received SBHS’ distinguished alumni award.

Don was a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force. His military service in the Air Force spanned 40 years of active and reserve status. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and flew 41 combat missions over Europe for the 96th Squadron, 2nd Bomb Group. He was shot down and made a POW by Germany, being interned in Stalag Luft III, Moosburg and Nuremberg. He survived a death march and once escaped for two weeks. He always attributed his survival to skills he learned as an Eagle Scout.

After repatriation, Don married Virginia Adams. They celebrated 57 years together, until her death in 2002. He graduated from Santa Barbara Teachers College (now UC Santa Barbara) and earned two MAs from USC. His career in the Santa Barbara schools included teaching at all levels and being the founding principal of San Marcos High School. In 1978 he earned an award as the outstanding high school biology teacher in California. He taught more than 10,000 students.

Don credited the Boy Scouts with giving him a positive direction in life. He earned his Eagle in 1937 and continued in scouting until his death. For continued service to BSA, he was recognized with two of its highest awards for adults, the Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope. Outdoor School at Rancho Alegre became his focus in retirement years, and he could be found working around the camp or teaching classes.

Another keystone in Don’s life was First United Methodist Church in Santa Barbara. He met Virginia at the church in 1942 and it was there they were married. He remained an active member for more than 65 years.

Don is survived by his son, Roger, and his grandson, David.

A memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church at 1 p.m. Friday, June 7. Arrangements are by Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels.


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