Donald Jake Oehlerking, Sr. (“Don”) peacefully passed away on Monday, August 22, 2022, at the age of 90. He was the third child of William and Florence Oehlerking (née DeForest) and was born in Sioux City, Iowa on October 8, 1931.
Don served in the United States Air Force as a radar technician from mid-September 1950 through mid-September 1954. After his basic training and job training, his first year of service was in Greenland; thereafter, the remainder of his service was mainly at Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, Georgia. After his term of service was complete, he and his small family of three moved to Sioux City, Iowa, where they lived for about four years (mid-September 1954 through the early summer of 1959). Thereafter, he and his larger family of seven relocated to Panama City, Florida, where they stayed for about one year.
Don and his expanded family of eight then relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1960. By early April 1964, Don had a family of ten.
Don was employed with Lad’s TV and Appliances from 1960 to 1972. Don’s good friend and long-time mentor, William (“Bill”) Steinman, left Lad’s for a more lucrative position with another company in 1970. Bill formerly held the electrician’s license that allowed the owners of Lad’s to operate a TV and appliance repair business. After Bill’s departure, Don studied for and obtained his electrician’s license so that Lad’s could continue to operate.
While employed at Lad’s, Don met and worked with Anne Marie LaVoie (née Baamann). Anne and her good friend and long-time mentor, Francis McClure, took the service calls from customers, assigned the repairs to the repairmen, and took care of the billing and collections for the business.
Over the years, Don and Anne, each, experienced similar difficulties with their respective mentally ill spouses. Things came to a head for both of them around 1968, causing both of them to file for divorces in 1969. Don and Anne married in June 1970.
Shortly afterward, the owners of Lad’s had announced it was being sold to new owners. While working at Lad’s, Don and Anne would drive to the Arizona White Mountain area to run weekend service calls for several of Lad’s customers. They discovered there was a business opportunity for them to own and operate their own small TV and appliance repair business from a location in Show Low, Arizona. They were confident that between Anne’s expertise in running a TV and appliance repair office and Don’s being a licensed electrician, they could combine their skills to fill that business opportunity. They bought some property in Show Low, Arizona, that included a small house with an attached shop from which they could operate a business.
In November 1972, they relocated their large, blended family (less Don’s two oldest children) to Show Low, Arizona, and opened White Mountain Appliance Repair. They owned and operated a successful business for 19 years, until 1991. During that time, Don pluckily became involved in local politics, specifically the Show Low Chamber of Commerce. In 1979, Don campaigned and was voted to be the President of the Show Low Chamber of Commerce.
Shortly after Don and Anne sold their business, they took about a five-year sojourn in Lebanon, Missouri, where Don and Anne enjoyed an active lifestyle in early retirement on a ten-acre piece of land. Anne lovingly and good-naturally humored Don’s endeavors at playing farmer with his tractor, planting and harvesting a garden, and doing a lot of canning, not to mention bread making with their bread machine, which was all the rage at the time.
Don and Anne then returned to Show Low and decided to sell the ten-acre piece of property in Lebanon Missouri, along with the remainder of the real estate they owned in Arizona, except for their property in Overgaard, Arizona. Property they bought shortly after they married in June 1970. They designed the home they wanted, Don assiduously oversaw the building of it, and they happily settled into a comfortable retirement.
Don’s most enjoyed activity was fishing and boating, especially at Lake Powell. He was best and infamously known for his persistent insistence that everything be done his way. Nonetheless, he was gregarious, well liked and respected by all who knew him.
Don was predeceased by his younger sister, Margaret Jerke (“Molly”), his oldest brother, William Oehlerking, Jr. (“Bill”), and by his second child, Donald Jake Oehlerking, Jr., who passed away in May 2015. Don is survived by his wife, Anne Marie Oehlerking and two brothers, Richard Oehlerking (“Dick”) and Theodor Oehlerking (“Ted”). He is also survived by his remaining seven children, Rosiland Yvonne Meadows (and her husband, Michael Gene Meadows), Roxanne Marie Cooper, Rhonda Kay Whitley (and her husband David Henry Whitley), Renae Faye Richter (and her husband, Berno Richter), Jon David Oehlerking, Jeffrey Lee Oehlerking, and James Ray Oehlerking, and by his stepson, Anton Joseph LaVoie. Additionally, he is survived by 19 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren (give or take a few), and 1 great-great grandchild.
We invite you to make a donation to the Arizona Humane Society in honor of Donald Jake Oehlerking, Sr., in place of sending flowers. We are in the process of arranging Don’s memorial service and will announce the details soon.