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Don  Edmondson

Obituary for Don Edmondson

September 6, 1925 - May 22, 2017
Austin, Texas | Age 91


Don Edmondson, age 91, passed away at home in Austin, Texas, on May 22, 2017. Don was born at home in Dallas, Texas, on September 6, 1925.

Don graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1945, then did graduate work at the University of Chicago. He earned a Master of Science Degree from SMU in 1948 and then a Ph.D from the California Institute of Technology aka Caltech in 1954. He began his career as a math professor at the University of Texas at Austin in 1960 and retired in 1995.

Don married Blanche Scheffler in September 1951, and she survives him. He was also survived by his daughter Chris Edmondson-Yurkanan and her husband Christopher Yurkanan, his son David Edmondson and his wife DeDe Hebner and their sons Brad and Neal Edmondson, and his son John Edmondson.

It is difficult to capture and communicate the complexity of this man, our father and friend. He was, to us, a brilliant man who loved to analyze and solve problems. He was a comedian who loved to exercise his dry wit in front of confused math students. He was a shy man who for years resisted using the telephone. He was a loving family man who supported his wife in her fight against the ravages of Primary Progressive Aphasia. At the same time he gave as much support as he possibly could to his daughter while she fought the very same disease — only to pass away herself one day after his own passing.

Long before it became popular, he loved to take his family on extended camping trips in the summer, often driving hundreds of miles a day to find a campground where the family could set up a tent, make dinner, and settle down for the night. One time he spent weeks designing and building a collapsible charcoal starter only to have it melt in the high heat of the charcoal the first time he used it. Perhaps that is why he became a mathematician instead of an engineer.

He was passionate about what went on in government and politics and followed the news religiously. He loved to watch the PBS News Hour every day and read the New York Times and Austin American Statesman. And he tried to vote in most every election, always taking time to study the Voters Guide.

Don loved working on his house and helping his sons John and David with theirs. Long past the age of retirement, he was climbing ladders to measure and build and repair and paint, all the while enjoying every minute of it.

He was his wife's faithful supporter in her passion for interior decorating. She and her best friend Rosalie Samuelson loved to come up with creative designs, and Don and his best friend Danny Samuelson loved figuring out how to make these ideas come to life.

Although he was valedictorian at his high school in Dallas, he didn't even consider going to college until a friend of his got a scholarship to SMU. Don said to himself that he was just as smart as his friend and just as poor so he ought to qualify for a scholarship, too. He did, and with that and later his GI Bill, he was able to work his way to become a Professor of Mathematics at UT.

Don could also be stubborn. For years, he refused to even consider getting cataract surgery. When he finally did, he was shocked to realize that the pants he thought to be a subtle green were actually bright blue.

Over a man's life, his relationships with his family will change. As a child — the family story goes — Don's sister Jean got mad at him one day and left him at school. He was alone on one side of Dallas, needed to get to the other side, but had no money for the trolley car to take him home. He solved his problem by following the trolley tracks to familiar haunts and eventually home. Later, as an adult, Don found that his relationship with his sister grew and grew. At the end of his life, his relationship with Jean was one of the most important relationships he had outside of his wife and children. His weekly phone calls and periodic visits to Jean's home in Boerne were one of the joys of his later life and especially important for the emotional support Jean provided while Don coped with caring for Blanche.

Don was also extremely proud of his grandsons Brad and Neal Edmondson. They have now each built successful lives far away from Austin but he loved hearing about their lives and was extremely but quietly pleased when they took the time to make special visits to see him and Blanche.

Don was particularly proud of his daughter Chris, who followed in his footsteps to teach at UT. He cherished their times together — whether sharing a lunch at UT, sipping a glass of wine in the evening, or just sitting and holding her hand when dementia slowly creeped over her.

Don and Blanche spent 65 special years together. There were challenges, but there was always love, growth, learning, and sharing.

Visitation: 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 26; funeral service: 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 27 — both at Weed-Corley-Fish funeral home at 3125 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, Texas. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, Radnor Station Building Two, Suite 320, 290 King of Prussia Rd., Radnor, PA 19087.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, Radnor Station Building Two, Suite 320, 290 King of Prussia Rd., Radnor, PA 19087.

Arrangements By

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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