Donald Thomas LaPoma

September 28, 1938 ~ November 5, 2021 (age 83)


Donald Thomas LaPoma entered his eternal life on Friday, November 5, 2021 after a long illness. Don peacefully passed away in his longtime home of Yukon, Oklahoma, with his beloved wife Sandy by his side. Don was born September 28, 1938 in Manhattan, New York in Gotham Hospital. He was the oldest of three siblings. He was very proud that his grandparents were born in Sicily and set out to America to raise their family and live the dream. He is preceded in death by his mother and father, Frances and Dominick (Tom) LaPoma, his son-in-law, Doug Largent, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, brother David LaPoma of Lake Elsinore, California, son-in-law, Brent Barton of Keller, Texas and grandson Alan Cates, Yukon, Oklahoma. His parents moved the family to Owego, New York where he graduated from Newark Valley High School in 1956. He married Dolores Budney and they raised four children together. From 1958 to 1968 Don worked as a designer and project engineer for General Electric which transitioned to Honeywell, Control Data, and then Seagate Technology. In 1963, General Electric transferred him from New York to Phoenix, Arizona. He moved his family to Oklahoma City in 1968 where he furthered his engineering career over the next decade as a manager of mechanical engineers and designers, building and designing high speed technology. He was a brilliant engineer, committed to continuing his education to keep up with technology advances in the 20th century. He acquired extensive experience in the design, manufacturing, service and program/product management of computer and related devices. Don had several teams over the years he managed, each member adored and respected him. They all wanted to be ‘like Don’ and work with or for him. When the time came for Don to move on, the teams surprised him with a celebratory send off, expressing their good wishes and complete gratitude. In December of 1982, he married Sandy Lee. The love they shared for each other was obvious and never stopped growing throughout their 39 years of marriage. Don became the father to Kim and Krissy, Sandy’s daughters at ages 15 and 12. He made sure they knew how much he loved them and how grateful he was for them in his life. A few years later in 1985, Don became the International Manager for Seagate Technology. He created plans, developed strategies, interfaced operations throughout Europe and the Pacific Rim. Don was a stellar negotiator and market analyst. He developed and implemented concepts which insured quality products with domestic and international customers. Don was very involved with the Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks and gave a huge portion of his time to that organization and their projects. The Special Olympics and the Cadet Lawman program through the Oklahoma Highway Patrol was especially important to him. His children and grandchildren felt privileged to participate and say they were his kids. Dad taught us respect for law enforcement and respect for the American Flag. He was a true committed American who completely believed in the American Dream and our liberties bestowed on us. Don was always asked by others from many philanthropies to help move their mission to a level only Don could accomplish. He was loved, admired and adored by so many people. Don had made numerous life-long friendships through his involvement with the Elks Lodge. He served in every aspect of the Elks hierarchy succession. From 1970 to 1974 he was elected to Director of State Major Projects twice, Lecturing Knight, Loyal Knight, and served each post with class and total distinction. Don was nominated, chosen and elected to Exalted Ruler in 1974-75, and 1998-99. Don established building renovation plans, achieved financial stability, and designed the American Heritage Center. His dedication to the Elks and desire in helping others was tremendous. Don served as the Oklahoma State Sergeant at Arms, Oklahoma State Convention Chairman, Ritual Judge and Coach, Southwest US Chairman, Lodge Trustee and Chairman, Southwest Vice-President, District Membership Chairman, President of the State’s Major Projects for back-to-back years, and attended over 70 State and District conventions. Don’s dedication to uphold, sustain and endorse the values and missions of the Elks was admirable and gracious. He did this with complete humility and determination. Don’s conviction and pride in all he believed was evident every single day. He believed in investing in one’s community, creating a quality of life for families and anyone in need, and helping veterans. Don was a devoted father, husband, son, brother, uncle, grandfather and great grandfather. The memories of road trips he took his family on were usually filled with learning and thoughtprocessing games. His kids would learn to love Eddy Arnold, Andy Williams, or Herb Alpert music as they played on 8-track tapes. He seemed like the smartest man in the world to his kids. He was a very wise, loving and giving man. He would spend hours helping all his kids with any and all the ridiculously hard math homework. From simple geometry to calculus and physics, he somehow always knew how to help us and be patient as he tried to make sure his ‘students’ thought things through and understood the application of the formulas and information. After finishing an equation, he’d make you feel like you just climbed Mount Everest. He was quite the proud teacher in many ways. If anyone ever questioned the meaning of a word, he would sit there while you opened the dictionary and learned it yourself. Our dad made sure we each learned things on our own. He wanted us to be self-sufficient and ready for whatever the next chapter held in our lives. He was supportive in our monthly ventures and made us feel like we were always his favorite. Don is survived by his wife, Sandy LaPoma, Yukon, Oklahoma, his children, Terri Hill and her husband Russell, Guthrie, Oklahoma, Debbie Barton, Keller, Texas, Kim Caplinger and her husband Chad, Yukon, Oklahoma, Krissy Gernandt and her husband Bart, Yukon, Oklahoma, Tom LaPoma, Holiday, Florida, Ted LaPoma and his wife Carla, Yukon, Oklahoma, his sister, Carole Dadonna, brother-in-law Jim Dadonna, Geneva, New York, ex-wife Dolores LaPoma, Edmond, Oklahoma, 17 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great Grandchild, numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. Services for Don LaPoma and a celebration of his life will be held on Monday, November 22, 2021 at 11:00am at the Elks Lodge located at 5550 Northwest 72nd St., Warr Acres, OK 73132 In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Oklahoma Elks Major Projects Reception to follow at the lodge.

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Funeral Service
November 22, 2021

11:00 AM
Elks Lodge (Oklahoma)

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