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Henry Don Lightenburger


1930 - 2019
Henry Don Lightenburger Obituary
The family of Don Lightenburger is grieved to announce his death on Wednesday October 9, 2019 in Dolores, Colorado at the age of 89. Don passed away from pancreatic cancer after bravely and courageously facing the disease.

Henry Don Lightenburger was born on July 17, 1930, the son of Lorna Francis (Calhoon) and Henry Benjamin Lightenburger in Wichita, Kansas. Don's childhood was spent in both Newton and Wichita, Kansas with his little sister, Jeannette Lee Lightenburger.

The opening chapters of Don's life included attending St. John's Military School in Salina, Kansas, graduating from Cathedral High School in Wichita and attending the University of Kansas in Lawrence. He met his first wife in 1948 and married Patricia Marie Braitsch in 1951. Their daughter, Donna Marie was born in 1952.

A move to Longmont, Colorado in the late 1950's brought about the middle chapters of Don's life with his marriage to Doris Eileen (Dee) Johnson on March 23, 1955. A daughter, Kerry Lynn was born in 1956 followed by a son, Henry Bruce in 1960.

The young family's relocation was due to Don's job transfer to the newly opened Beech Aircraft, Boulder Division where he worked in production planning and the development of cryogenic systems that would permit liquefied hydrogen and oxygen to be used as rocket fuels. Along with others at the Boulder Plant, they worked to research and build these systems and supplied cryogenic apparatus to the Gemini and Apollo projects. This job offered the family the opportunity to take vacations to Florida to observe some of the Apollo rocket launches from Cape Canaveral.

Don's entrepreneurial streak began to resurface and it wasn't long before he started a new venture in Longmont lodging. From his early days of paper boy to owning a taxi company (which is how he met his second wife, Dee) to a rental house, duplex and apartment building in Longmont, Don and Dee bought the Trailway Motel on North Main Street in 1972. A string of properties followed including the Bar C in Longmont, renamed the Bar L and a move to Boulder in 1978 included the purchase of the Lazy J, easily renamed the Lazy L and a few years later the hotel next door, the Highlander Inn. Both of these hotels were on the 28th Street frontage road near Colorado Avenue.

Then Don branched out by purchasing Best Western hotels, owning the one in Brush and the Sundowner in Sterling, these towns are in NE Colorado. As Don's knowledge, experience and expertise working in and owning hotels grew, he ran for and was elected governor of District One and served on the 1991 Board of Directors of Best Western International.

In the early 1990's the Holiday Inn Express in Cortez, Colorado was purchased and relocation occurred again. His son Bruce moved to Cortez initially to manage this 100 room hotel and Don moved to Cortez in the year 2000.

This starts Don's final life chapters with the building of a new house along the river in Dolores, Colorado with his new love, Nancy. Don was able to combine his passions: a strong work ethic, a desire to travel and a desire to financially care for his family. Don and Nancy spent a myriad of years driving and flying to destinations near and far. From the edges of the North Pole watching polar bears to a river cruise on the Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia, they were constant companions on many adventures. Often, Don invited his adult children to join in on the exotic travel opportunities. These trips have strengthened the family ties and allowed Don to protect and provide for those he loved.

Don married Nancy Joyce (Harlan) Huffman on his birthday on July 17, 2017. Don and Nancy were devoted to each other and Nancy was a terrific caretaker in Don's last months of life, just like in the previous 20 years.

Don is preceded in death by his sister, Jeannette; and his second wife, Dee. Those left to cherish his memory are his wife Nancy, of Dolores; his daughter and son-in-law Donna Marie and Walter Sebring III of Sherman Oaks, California; his daughter Kerry Lightenburger of Boulder, Colorado; and his son and daughter-in-law Bruce and Dawn Lightenburger of Dolores. He also leaves behind 5 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

No memorial service is planned and Don's body has been donated to medical science and transferred to UC Health in Denver. Contributions will be accepted in Don's honor to fund and help build the future Dolores Community Playground in the town of Dolores. Donations can be sent to the Don Lightenburger Memorial Fund at Dolores State Bank, PO Box 848, Dolores, CO 81323.

A LIFE WELL LIVED.......

Friends may share thoughts, memories and condolences online at: www.ertelfuneralhome.com

Henry Don Lightenburger
Published in The Journal from Oct. 18 to Oct. 22, 2019
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