Cover photo for Donald J. Minguski's Obituary
Donald J. Minguski Profile Photo
1930 Donald 2014

Donald J. Minguski

January 15, 1930 — March 31, 2014

Donald J Minguski was born in Port Huron, Michigan on January 15, 1930. His mother passed away when he was five years old. It was a real struggle to hold the family together after that. All the children were placed in foster homes including Don. Don finally ended up with Mable and Jim Terry and was raised on their farm in Capac Michigan where he graduated from Capac High School. Over the years Don felt Mable Terry really had become his mother. He was always so grateful he ended up with such a loving family. Don stayed very close with Mable and would visit her on Sundays and holidays until her death in 1992. He enjoyed farming and continued to do so after high school until he joined the army. After being discharged from the army he went to work for Chrysler Corporation where he worked as a millwright for 34 years. He retired from Chrysler in 1990. Over the years Don was a member of the American Legion Post 0142. He was also a member of the Richmond Antique Engine and Tractor Association. Don is survived by his wife Sandy, his two daughters Jan Marie Eckstein (Jeff) and Ann Renee Piett (Greg) and four step-children Ross, Ben and Rick (Karen) Strother and Bev Seddon, seven grandchildren, three great grandchildren, Sister Irene Heyer and many nieces and nephews. Don was a great story teller. He often told stories of his daughters when they were young and how they enjoyed going to Grandma Terry's house in Capac as they were growing up. They also enjoyed water skiing behind his boat in the summers. One of my favorite stories was about his attempt to prevent his teenage daughters from staying on the phone too long. He came up with a plan. He told them that they could only talk on the phone if they were standing on one leg with the other foot raised in the air. The minute they got tired and the other foot touched the ground the phone call must end. However, as he told it his plan soon backfired. One of his daughters, Jani I think it was he said got so good at standing on one leg she was like a stork and cold stand like that for hours. Don's daughters moved to Florida in 1984. We came down and vacationed with them every year until we purchased a winter home in Florida. In 1994 Don and Sandy purchased a home in Peace River Subdivision in Punta Gorda Florida. They enjoyed many years there with good friends and all the activities provided in the park. Don especially enjoyed riding the golf cart and visiting with friends under the Tiki Hut. Don was an avid deer hunter. He also enjoyed watching sports and displaying his antique tractors at various events during summer months in Michigan. He was also very talented and liked to make things. He milled and made rings out of stainless steel for most of his coworkers at Chrysler and placed their 30 year pins on each ring. He made beautiful brass crucifixes, birds out of PVC pipe, eagle heads out of golf balls, and tin men out of recycled aluminum cans. There wasn't much Don couldn't build or make. When we first came down to Florida we needed to pour a driveway. Don thought he might help fund that project by selling the tin men he made. He went down Highway 17 and displayed them outside and was soon surrounded by cars that would stopped to purchase them. His venture was a success. When he came home that day he had earned over half the money needed for the driveway. He took more tin men out and did the same thing the following week and achieved his goal. When Don joined the tractor club in Michigan he decided to make a little Farmall H tractor for his grandson Sean, so he could have an identical tractor like Ja Ja's.( Ja Ja is polish for grandpa) to display in the tractor shows. He found a Cub Cadet riding lawn mower and converted that into a smaller replica of a Farmall H tractor. He cut and welded and modified the riding lawnmower. He removed the hood and bent and welded sheet metal to make it look just like a Farmall H. He cut the front axle and put the two front wheels together. He moved the steering column to the top of the hood and cleverly made a gearbox for the steering mechanism out of a car jack. He added every detail he could to duplicate the big farm tractor with the final touches being the red paint job and the authentic Farmall H decals. He also fabricated a mini version of a commercial trailer to tow behind his mini tractor. He put a toy pedal tractor in the mini trailer. Now Don had his authentic 1941 Farmall H tractor and commercial trailer and his grandson had a duplicate tractor with trailer. Don was very proud of both of those creations. He got more compliments and inquiries about the mini tractor and trailer at the tractor show than he did about his actual antique tractor. People always wanted to know where he got them and if he would sell them. He would proudly tell them he made them himself for his little "pal" Sean. To say Don was opinionated would be an understatement. He was vocal on his views on everything from how he felt about tattoos and foreign cars to everything in between. On the surface his comments could seem abrasive. But he also stood up for what he believed in and always tried to do what he thought was right. Once you got to know Don you would soon find out he was a very warm and kind hearted man beneath the surface and yes some of his close friends and aquatints even had tattoos and drove foreign cars! He was a lot more accepting then he let on. He really was a people person. There was something very likable about Don. As mentioned he had a good sense of humor and a story for every occasion. He could walk into a room full of strangers and walk out with a room full of friends. He could strike up a conversation with strangers at the store or pumping gas or wherever he was in public and within minutes he had a new friend. You would turn to look and see where Don was and you would see him off in the corner with someone he just met and they would really be hitting it off and talking up a storm. Don also had a love for animals and had a way with children. He was like the Pied Piper with the neighborhood kids and they would all follow him around because he took the time to talk to them. He wouldn't talk down to them but treated them like little adults. They would often wander over and bring their fishing poles and fish with Don sitting on the sea wall in front of the lake at his house in Michigan. Don was a character and he really touched the lives of all who knew him. He will be missed and remembered by all.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

First Christian Church of Punta Gorda

4124 Taylor Road, Punta Gorda, FL 33950

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