Donavan Dale Harthoorn was born October 21, 1944, at Skiff Hospital in Newton, Iowa. His mother selected the name Donavan because of the kindness of her nurse, Miss Donavan, showed her. It seems Don entered the world in a health crisis because of WWII and left during another one caused by the pandemic.
Don’s parents were Joe and Henrietta “Shorty” (Vander Pol) Harthoorn. Shorty expressed her concern to Dr. Korfmarker that Donavan was so small during a baby checkup. Dr. Korfmarker’s reply was “You don’t get rats from mice.” Don’s first home was a farm between Reasnor and Monroe. His parents decided to move to Grandpa Joe Harthoorn, Sr.’s farm on T-22 because they felt that the teacher, Grace Auten, would get Bryce and Donavan off to a better start on their education. The country school was located just north of the Glen De Zwarte’s residence.
Joe decided he wanted a change from farming, so the family moved to Sully. Don met Judy Elaine Vander Kamp when Don was in 6th grade and Judy was in 5th. Don said it was like the Frankie Valle song –“Carried her books from school, playing make believe she’s married to me.” Judy’s Newton Daily News paper route ended at the Harthoorn house, and even an oblivious, younger brother could notice something was going on.
Don graduated from Lynnville-Sully in 1962. He enjoyed his time at Lynnville-Sully, particularly football and track. His coach, Walt Becker, call Don “Mouse” like the doctor had said years before. Starting sprint relays was Don’s favorite part of track meets.
Don made profession of faith in Jesus Christ on April 17, 1960, at First Reformed Church in Sully during his sophomore year. After graduation from L-S, Don wanted to continue working for Maasdam Construction. Joe and Shorty, who both had 8th grade educations, said their sons were going to college, at least for one year. Don went to Iowa State University with Bryce for Don’s freshman year. They lived in adjoining rooms and shared a car. Don decided he wanted to pursue dentistry, so that led him to switch to the University of Iowa. He and Judy were married on December 27, 1963, at First Reformed Church in Sully. Years later, Don thanked his mom and dad for “forcing him to get an education” at their 45th anniversary party. He didn’t think that his body would have withstood the toll of physical labor for many years.
Don’s first back surgery caused him to modify his dentistry plan because he thought standing in one place for several hours a day might not work well. He switched to General Science, and after graduation in 1967, he sold lab equipment for a company called Scientific Products. He and Judy moved 14 times around the Midwest in a year with stops in places like Niles, Illinois, and South Bend, Indiana. After so much moving, Don and Judy stopped in Cedar Rapids where Don worked for Collins Radio. But after a couple years, Don started to find his true calling in insurance. He became a surety bond underwriter, and he was passionate about working with contractors for Holmes-Murphy and Associates in Des Moines. In 1977, his title was Producer and Manager of the Bond Department for Holmes-Murphy. Don enjoyed working with contractors from our area, including Larry Meisner, Bill Yeager and Junie Manatt.
Don and Judy’s son, Jeff, was born on September 24, 1967. Like several Harthoorn fathers and sons, Don and Jeff didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but Don was always amazed with Jeff’s mechanical ability and can-do attitude. Jeff can tear into a computer, a car, a motor, a bathroom, or anything else and make it better than it was. Don was so appreciative of the love Jeff showed them as Don’s body and Judy’s mind failed. After dissatisfaction with healthcare in Florida, Jeff was caring for Don and Judy in their favorite place, their home at 30 Island Circle on Siesta Key.
Don and Judy loved being grandparents to their only grandchild, Samantha. They thoroughly enjoyed being involved with Sami’s school activities at Sarasota Christian School. Don particularly enjoyed when Sami’s ride to prom one year was a ’50 Chevy that looked a lot like the one he shared with Bryce. Don also enjoyed staying current with the activities of his nieces and nephews and eventually his great-nieces and great-nephews. He knew more about what was in the Hometown Press than many people who live in Iowa.
In his younger years, Don took long motorcycle trips with friends on his Harley Sportster. He boated at Lake Ponderosa where Jeff and Judy both learned to water ski. He continued to boat in Florida where he learned how to navigate ocean and inter-coastal boating. Don was a loyal Iowa Hawkeye. He was a member of the Tampa Bay I-Club. He watched the Hawkeyes play several Outback Bowls in Tampa, and he took Judy, brother Kurt, and Arloa to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. Don even made it to the Orange Bowl in Miami, when the Floridians all thought they were freezing to death. Don and Judy took several trips to places like Hawaii, New England, the Caribbean, and many other places.
Don moved to Florida in 1988 because he was tired of the cold and snow during Iowa winters. He said he wanted to go early enough so that potential employers wouldn’t think the he “was just an old guy planning to ease into retirement.” He worked for Nicholas and Cannon Insurance and RLI Insurance in Sarasota until he retired in 2010. In addition, Don and Jeff started a new corporation in 1991 called Cut Fresh, Incorporated. They started with two delivery trucks and built the business to the point where they were selling fresh cut flowers to 60 retailers in a 3-county area.
After Bryce passed away, Don and Kurt decided they were going to pick out matching tombstones. Those markers are in Saum Cemetery, about a mile south of I-80. A Bible verse was selected for each marker. Don’s verse was Psalm 145:4. “One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”
Don is survived by his wife Judy, son Jeff Harthoorn of Sarasota, Florida, granddaughter Sami Harthoorn, brother Kurt (Arloa) Harthoorn of Sully, Iowa, sister-in-law Betty Harthoorn of Princeton, Iowa, and brothers-in-law: Gary (Linda) Vander Kamp of Newton, Iowa, and Steve (Judy) Vander Kamp of Ankeny, Iowa.
Don was preceded in death by his parents Joe and Henrietta Harthoorn, parents-in-law Floyd and Jeanette Vander Kamp, brother Bryce Harthoorn, and sister in infancy Gelene Harthoorn.
For those attending either the visitation or the memorial service feel free to wear Iowa Hawkeye or Lynnville-Sully apparel.
To send flowers to the family, please visit our floral store.
West Des Moines IA