In Memory of Donald D. Schilling

May 3, 1932 - July 2, 2024

Donald Dewane Schilling, aged 92, passed away on July 2, 2024, at home in Birchwood, WI, after battling lung cancer.

Donald was an independent, hard-working and optimistic man with an incredible memory for detail. He regaled the family with stories of working on his grandparents’ farm, serving in the United States Air Force during the Korean War, and his 30-year career as an executive in the cable television industry. Donald is survived by daughters, Patricia (Joseph) Keller and Joanne Schilling of Birchwood, WI; grandson, Justin (Karja) Keller and great-grandchildren, Victoria and Austin Keller of Sand Creek, WI; sisters, Beverly Weiss and LaVerna (Bonnie) Cornell of Rice Lake, WI; half-brother, Robert (Connie) Nikolaus of Columbia Heights, MN; stepson, Michael (Kathy) Hausch, and stepdaughter, Cheryl Hopkins of Akron, Ohio.

He was preceded in death by his parents, LaVerne Schilling and Elsie Schilling Nikolaus Clark; brother, Dennis Schilling; half-sister, Barbara Nikolaus; his first wife, Caroline (Lyn) Dunham, and his second wife, Sonya Schilling.

Born on May 3, 1932, in Eau Claire, WI, he lost his father at age four so looked to his grandfather as a “father” figure. Working on the non-mechanized farm meant using horses for everything. When his grandfather resisted modernization, Donald left home for the United States Air Force from October 1950 to January 1954. He quickly rose in rank during those four years and was discharged as a staff sergeant. Following his military service, he managed an office supply store, sold Volkswagens and in 1961 started on the 30-year road to becoming a top executive in the then-nascent cable television industry. His career took him to every state except Alaska and his advice was to “follow your ambitions and always look forward.” He retired in 1992, and moved with his wife Sonya to Akron, OH. Following her death in 2020, he moved to Wisconsin to be near to his daughters. Donald loved to play games on his computer, watch old Western movies, play cribbage, and visit the casino. A special memory is of celebrating his past two birthdays at the casino with a Tanqueray martini with two olives. His family feels blessed to have had Donald close by these past four years and cherish many memories with him.

Burial of Donald and Sonya Schilling will be held at Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Cleghorn, WI, in spring 2025. Contributions in memory of Donald can be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, an organization he deeply cared about. The family has entrusted Appleyard's Home for Funerals in Rice Lake, WI, with the funeral arrangements.

Last Update: Jul 10, 2024 11:20 am CDT

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