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Don died August 23, 2022, in Boise, Idaho. He was born in Fillmore, California, on January 13, 1942. Throughout the 60s, Don traveled the west as a young man seeking adventure, with the railroad in Washington and Oregon, United Airlines in Seattle and the silver mines of Kellogg, Idaho. He even tried his hand at copper mining in Butte, Montana so he could stay close to Judy Thurston, his sweetheart, while she studied nursing at Montana State University in Bozeman. In 1964 Don joined the Marine Corp and served in the Marine Corp Reserves and Army Reserves until 1969. Don found his true passion in 1961 as a firefighter with the USFS and ultimately rose to the ranks as a smokejumper. On April 8th, 1967, Don married Judy, the love of his life, in Missoula. During the summer of 1970, they drove the Alaskan Canadian Highway north to Fairbanks, Alaska to continue his passion for smoke jumping with the BLM. They hadn’t planned to stay in Fairbanks long, but 30 years later they had grown in their professions, created a community of friends, and raised both of their daughters, Darcy, and Trista, under the Land of the Midnight Sun. Don retired as the Safety and Occupational Health Manager for the BLM in 1995, and in the summer of 2000, he and Judy moved to Germany to enjoy the next six years of their lives together during Judy’s work as an Occupational Health Nurse with the US Army. In 2006, following Judy’s retirement, they moved back to the states to settle in Boise, Idaho. Don jumped at Missoula 1963-64, 67-69, Fairbanks 1965, 70-74, and Anchorage 1966. He was an NSA Life Member.



Publication Date

September 2022


Smokejumping; Smokejumpers -- United States; National Smokejumper Association; Wildfire fighters; Obituaries


Forest Management

Smokejumper Obituary: Wahl, Donald Kirk (Missoula 1963)