April 17, 1931–January 20, 2019
Donald L. Veal, 87, passed away January 20, 2019, at his home in Longmont, Colorado, with his family at his side. Don was born April 17, 1931, at home on the family ranch in Chance, South Dakota. His parents, Boyd and Mabel Veal, had a large family, including Don’s four brothers and two sisters, and a very large extended family in that same area. Don’s education began in a one room school house at the ranch, and he and his brothers shared an apartment in Lemmon, South Dakota, to attend high school. After he graduated, he attended South Dakota State University where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1953.
While he was at college in Brookings, Don met his cherished wife, Bonnie, on a blind date. They knew immediately that they had made a match that would last a lifetime. They married in 1953 in Redfield, South Dakota. When Bonnie passed away in 2017, they had been married and completely devoted to each other for more than 64 years.
After graduation from college and marriage, Don joined the United States Air Force and, with Bonnie, they began a new life as a military couple. In the Air Force, Don was trained as a pilot, and by luck of the draw and by virtue of being the lowest guy on the totem pole at the time, he was also trained to be a flight instructor. This is where his passion for aviation was sparked and that passion burned throughout his lifetime. He provided flight instruction to many airmen and to hundreds of individuals, including his daughter Barbara, after he left the Air Force.
After his discharge from service in the Air Force in 1957, Don and Bonnie moved to Laramie, Wyoming, where Don attended graduate school at the University of Wyoming. Don again took on the role of instructor, first as a graduate student teaching assistant while working on his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. He earned his M.S. in 1960 and his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering in 1964. He continued his academic career at the University of Wyoming as a professor in the College of Engineering. Don was head of the Department of Atmospheric Science from 1971 to 1980, with a year off to serve as director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colorado. These professional activities allowed him to combine his love of teaching and research with his love of flying, the unique opportunities presented by the still-continuing mission of the Department of Atmospheric Science. In addition to aviation activities related to his research, Don also flew many hours for the University, ferrying passengers and visitors. He had many stories to share about his adventures in the sky and the people he came to know.
Don served as Vice President of Research at the University of Wyoming and became the first alumnus to become President of the University. After serving as Acting President in 1981, he was named the 20th President of the University in 1982, and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1987. Don’s love of learning and his curiosity were shared with his students, his children and grandchildren, and have always inspired us to reach higher than we thought possible in our own individual ways.
Following his tenure at the University of Wyoming, he began working in the private sector, first as President and CEO of Particle Measuring Systems in Boulder, Colorado, from 1987 to 1995 and Don served on the board of directors for Research Electro-Optics (“REO”) from 1994 to 2018, until the company was sold in 2018. Eventually, Don and Bonnie moved to Longmont, Colorado, and enjoyed travel and their 19 year part-time residency in Arizona. Golf was another of Don’s many passions and, par for the course, he earned more than one hole-in-one along the way.
Don received numerous honors, awards, and recognitions, including Distinguished Alumnus awards from the University of Wyoming and South Dakota State University, induction into the Wyoming Engineering Hall of Fame and Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame, named as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, and most recently, in 2019, the American Meteorological Society’s Cleveland Abbe Award for Distinguished Service to the Atmospheric and Related Sciences for “visionary leadership in the creation of airborne observational capabilities in service of atmospheric science and for exemplary management of major educational and research activities.”
Don is survived by his daughters, Sherrill Veal (Michael Reese), Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Barbara Veal, Longmont, Colorado, and his two grandchildren, Graeme Singleton, Canon City, Colorado, and Bonnie Grace Reese, Cheyenne, Wyoming, his brother Boyd Veal, sister-in-law and brother-in-law Juanita and Duane Sanger, Redfield, South Dakota, and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his loving wife and Supreme Allied Commander, Bonnie Veal, and six of his amazing siblings. The family also thanks Fatoumata Doumbia and Karma Reigart for the kind and gentle comfort they provided to Don, and the family, throughout his last few days.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. January 26, 2019, at Central Presbyterian Church, 402 Kimbark Street, in Longmont, Colorado. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations may be made to the Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund, EBZEF, P.O. Box 294, Salem, Oregon, 97308-0294, firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.ebzef.org,the University of Wyoming Foundation, or the charity of your choice. Share condolences at www.ahlbergfuneralchapel.com.