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Born: Mar 31, 1932

Date of Passing: Sep 12, 2023

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March 31, 1932 – September 12, 2023

Evidence of a life well lived is found in those who love you.

Donald James Hutchison "slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings" at 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, September 12, 2023. He is survived by his daughter Jill Herman (Dwayne), son Jamie Hutchison (Jodi), daughter Andrea Hutchison, grandchildren Joshua and Jaden Hutchison and numerous nieces and nephews. Don was predeceased by his loving wife Grayce (nee Saunders), father Russell, mother Rebecca (nee Chapman), sisters Marie, Shirley, Jean, Eileen, Marlene and brothers William, Neil, Bud, Ted and David.

Don was born and raised in Stratford, Ontario and attended Stratford Collegiate prior to working as a photographer for the Stratford Beacon Herald newspaper. He spent his formative years tuning up his Model T, playing football for the Stratford Rams, swimming in the quarry at St. Mary's and enjoying summers at the family's beloved cottage in Bayfield.

A chance flight in a friend's De Havilland Tiger Moth proved to be the impetus for Don's career as a fighter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. It was a posting to Gimli Air Station and his role instructing NATO pilots on T-33 jet trainers that resulted in an introduction to the love of his life. Donald met Grayce Elizabeth Saunders at a dance in Winnipeg and the rest as they say is history.

The newlyweds made their way overseas to the tiny French town of Grostenquin where Don flew F-86 Sabres on the front lines of the Cold War. The couple welcomed daughter Jill to the family before making their way to Bagotville, Quebec for a tour as a squadron leader on F-101 Voodoos intercepting Russian aircraft incursions into North American air space. During this assignment son Jamie and daughter Andrea were added to the family. Don's RCAF career encompassed subsequent moves to North Bay, Ontario, Great Falls, Montana and Barrington Passage, Nova Scotia prior to his final posting at Air Command Headquarters in Winnipeg. Lieutenant Colonel D.J. Hutchison wrapped up his Armed Forces commitment in the Air Reserves working on mobilization plans for the Canadian military.

Never one to let the grass grow under his feet, Don slid seamlessly into his second career as the Technical Director of Sailing at the Manitoba Sports Federation and opened his own business, (Fairwind Sailings) teaching Canadian Yachting Association courses in Gimli and Northern Harbour.

Don and Grayce took advantage of these years of semi-retirement to escape winter and join communities in Breckenridge, Florida and Hemet, California. They also reveled in their new role as grandparents with the arrival of Joshua and Jaden to the family. Whether it was playing with grandma in the "Bug House" or helping Grampy in the garage the boys eagerly anticipated every weekend, holiday and vacation spent with them.

The garage was Don's happy place and there was always a project on the go. There were boats, clocks, muskets, motorcycles, outboard motors, dozens of automobiles and even a couple of airplanes that started out as plans and ended up as a testament to Don's patience and meticulous craftsmanship.

Donald was first and foremost a devoted husband and father. His passion and life-example were felt by everyone who met and knew him. He lived the adage of whatever you do give it your all. He was unwavering in his devotion to his family and Don's example taught Jill, Andrea and Jamie to truly savour the precious moments that life has to offer. He recognized that all of them are snapshots in time that we hold forever in our hearts. In accordance with Don's wishes cremation and a small family interment ceremony will take place.

Special thanks to all the staff on the third floor of Grace Hospital for their efforts and support.

The family looks back on and remembers Don's life and how well he lived it. It was a life that touched us all and left wonderful memories that we will cherish forever.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Sep 18, 2023

Condolences & Memories (1 entries)

  • So sorry to hear of Don’s passing our sincere condolences to Jamie Jodi and family. We are sure that he will be sadly missed by all that knew him. - Posted by: Dave and Fran Brooker (Friend of family ) on: Sep 18, 2023

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