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Born: May 25, 1914

Date of Passing: Nov 03, 2004

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DONALD LEATHAM AIKEN Donald Leatham Aiken passed away peacefully after a lengthy illness at Deer Lodge Centre on November 3, 2004. He was born May 25, 1914 in Winnipeg, MB, but spent several years of his childhood in Aberdeen, Scotland while his father, James Aiken, was with the Army of Occupation in Europe following the First World War. During this time Don attended a school for the sons of sailors. Part of the schooling was conducted on board a sailing ship at sea, fostering a lifelong love of boats and sailing. In 1932, Don signed on to work his transatlantic passage on the Donaldson Line taking cattle from Montreal to Britain, and visiting various ports of call in Europe. When he returned to Manitoba in 1933 Don became the editor of the Manitoba Commonwealth, a publication affiliated with the CCF. Dons family was very active in politics and the arts in Winnipeg, and he carried on the tradition, performing in numerous stage productions and participating in election campaigns and rallies. In later years he performed in various CBC radio dramatic series. In 1937 he attended Normal School and went on to teach in a one-room school in Merridale, a very small community in the Duck Mountain region of Manitoba. With the outbreak of war, Don enlisted in the Air Force and was trained as a navigator. He went on to train other navigators at Rivers, MB and later went overseas. After the war ended, Don returned to his family in Winnipeg and worked as a reporter and editor at the Winnipeg Tribune until 1955, when he took a position in public relations with TransCanada Airlines. In 1961 Don was offered the opportunity to edit the Dryden Observer, which he did until 1966. In 1967 it was back to Winnipeg and the Tribune, where Don worked as copy editor, editorial page editor and book editor until he retired in 1979. Through the years he was involved with the Winnipeg Press Club, and served as President of the club in 1950. He was also very involved with the writing and production of "Beer and Skits" for several years. In the neighbourhood, Don and Marion were active in a monthly supper club for many years. Following retirement from the Trib, Don went on to edit Manitoba Business Magazine until 1984. From 1984 to 1990 he was Executive Secretary of the Manitoba Press Council. During this time he began to write Heritage Highlights for the Real Estate News. In 1992 he received a Preservation Award for Excellence from Heritage Winnipeg for his contribution to increasing awareness of Winnipegs history. These heritage highlights were also to form the basis of Dons book, "It Happened in Manitoba", launched May 31, 2004. Don was a poet, gardener, camping enthusiast, historian, photographer, and avid reader. He touched many lives with his generosity, wisdom and quirky sense of humour. He was predeceased by his parents (James and Mabel Aiken) daughter (Rebecca) brothers-in-law (Lorne Walsh, Pat Walker) daughter-in-law (Judy) and his wife (Marion). Don will be lovingly remembered by his sister Doris Walsh; his sisters-in-law, Jean Thain (Chris) and Helen Walker; his son Don Aiken; daughters, Debi Palfy (Maurice) and Norlaine Thomas (Jeff) grandchildren, Clayton Dixon (Teeny), Corrie Dixon (Tracy), Cameron Dixon, Coral Aiken, Nicole Aiken, Heather Thomas, Garnet Thomas and Katherine Thomas; and great-grandchildren, Clayton Jr., Braiden, Charlie and Luc. The family would like to thank the staff at Deer Lodge Centre Tower 7 for their great kindness over the past eight months. In accordance with Dons wishes, there will be no funeral. Instead there will be a "wake" in celebration of his life, 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 13 at the University Club at the University of Manitoba, Main Floor, Pembina Hall. Parking is available in D lot. Handicapped parking is available. For directions please call 474-8893. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Donald L. Aiken Bursary in Education at the University of Manitoba.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Nov 06, 2004

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