Donald Peter Witty was born on Jan. 23, 1943, in Chicago, Ill. He grew up in Ravinia, Ill., with his parents, Peter and Anne, and his sister, Marianne. Don’s father owned and operated Witty’s Ice Cream store in Ravinia for 35 years, where Don spent many a day scooping ice cream to customers. From early days, Don filled his life with valuable friendships many of which continue to this day. His summers were spent playing baseball: Little League, Pony League and an American Legion team which went 40-1 over two summers, winning the state championship in 1961. Don was a catcher and, other than family, one of his favorite passions was catching for his (still) best friend.
High school at Loyola Academy brought more baseball, where he led the Catholic League in hitting, but his star shone brightest on the basketball court, where he played point guard for Coach Gene Sullivan’s 25-3 Catholic League champions, who represented the Catholic League in an invitational tournament held in Washington, D.C. He was a wonderful defender and a “team-first” point guard.
He attended the University of Notre Dame with many of his high school friends. Notre Dame provided him a place to continue playing baseball and basketball and, more importantly, provided him a faith-based education, ROTC, and his beloved “Dirty Scurvies” (an undefeated touch football team/mini-fraternity made up of high school friends and some East Coasters who never once in four years washed their uniforms yet somehow remained life-long friends). He was a proud Domer who loved Our Lady’s University (along with all Catholic schools – he was very proud that his daughters graduated from Marquette and Loras) and enjoyed visiting the campus to see his son and grandchildren who also graduated from there.
After the Army (where he served on the DMZ as an infantry officer) and law school at William & Mary, Don moved to Woodstock, Ill., in 1970 and spent the next almost 50 years weaving himself into its fabric. He worked for the McHenry County Title Co., the State Bank of Woodstock and A.G. Edwards (Wells Fargo). Don also served as the president of the Chamber of Commerce, on the Woodstock Library Board for 30 years, he was elected to the District 200 School Board, and served on the Parish Council and Finance Committee for St. Mary’s Parish. He also coached boys and girls basketball at St. Mary Grade School as well as Little League baseball and girls’ softball during the summers.
For someone whose travel ambitions extended no farther than family summers in Fish Creek, Wis., Don thoroughly enjoyed more than two decades of intensive travel throughout Italy with his wife of 44 years, Jill. Often these trips included extended visits with old “friends as family,” he would say. They also enjoyed winter escapes to the Fish Creek of his youth, vacation adventures with friends several times a year, and spent a memorable 40th anniversary in Paris.
Culturally, he had an immense love for folk music that began in the ’60’s while working for Jill’s grandfather at Ravinia Festival. He and Jill were also season ticket holders at the American Players Shakespeare Theatre in Spring Green, Wis.
Don’s survivors include his wife of 44 years, Donna Jill; sister, Marianne Vines, Highlands, N.C.; son Peter (Jean) Witty, Phoenix, Ariz.; daughter Laura (Cameron) Moose, Weston, Mo.; daughter Wendy (Kevin) Shelton, McHenry, Ill.; and son Steven (Susan) Tropea, Boca Raton, Fla.; 12 grandchildren: Katharine, Peter II and Thomas Witty, Logan, Lauren and Lea Moose, Michael and Matthew Shelton, Austin and Sage Tropea, and Johnathon and Sophia DiFusco.
The memorial visitation will be held Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Schneider, Leucht, Merwin & Cooney funeral home 1211 N. Seminary Ave. Woodstock, Ill. 60098. The memorial visitation will continue Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, at St. Mary Catholic Church from 10 a.m. until the funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Burial will be private.
Don believed strongly that a public library was the glue of any small town, thus donations in lieu of flowers should be made to the Woodstock Public Library, 414 W. Judd St. Woodstock, IL 60098 or woodstockpubliclibrary.org.