Donald M. Savatski

A love of the outdoors kept Donald M. Savatski smiling for much of his life.

Whether he was hunting, shooting trap at a local gun club, tending to a garden or restoring a vintage chair, the longtime Town of Port Washington resident embraced each chance to enjoy fresh air and put his skills to use.

“Dad loved to hunt, especially pheasant and grouse hunting,” his son Mark said. “So many times he and I would chase across the fields with our dogs.”

Don will also be remembered for his meticulous approach to his favorite pastimes.

“He was a perfectionist. Whatever he was working on, he always wanted to do the best job he could,” his son Robert said.

The attitude of not settling for second best remained with Don in his later years, even when he was confined to his home with a serious illness.

“Even after he was sick and not feeling well, we would put ‘Jeopardy’ on TV. That was one of his favorite things to watch,” his wife Carolyn said. “All of a sudden he would come up with the answers to questions they were asking.”

Don’s attention to detail didn’t surprise family members.

“He was always super factual,” his granddaughter Megan Krohn said.

Don was 85 when he died Monday, Aug. 1, at the Town of Port  Washington residence where he lived with his wife for more than 50 years. He succumbed to pancreatic cancer after battling the disease for four years.

Don was born Oct. 13, 1936, in Waukesha, one of seven children and the only son of Frank and Clarinda Savatski. He grew up in that community, graduating from Waukesha Catholic Memorial High School in 1954.

When he met Carolyn Potthast at a Christmas party, Don had an idea she would play a special role in his life. The couple made the start of their journey together official by marrying on May 19, 1956, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Waukesha.

During the early years of marriage, Don worked at Hevi-Duty Electric Co., first in Waukesha and then in Watertown and Goldsboro, N.C., as the company relocated its operations. In 1968, the Savatskis returned to Wisconsin when Don was needed to help care for his ailing father.

Don went to work for Modern Equipment Co. in Port Washington, first as a draftsman and then as a traveling sales representative. He remained with the firm until his retirement in 2002.

Along with his wife, Don was a longtime member of St. John XXIII Parish, Immaculate Conception Church in Saukville.

Don and Carolyn raised four children in their Port Washington home, eventually welcoming 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren to the family.

Besides spending time with family members, Don enjoyed a variety of hobbies, most of which called for hands-on talent.

“He was very skilled at woodworking,” his daughter Suzanne said. “He would take apart whole rocking chairs that had broken parts, redo the seats and put all the spindles back in. He also liked restoring park benches.

“He was fascinated with old tools and how they worked.”

Feeding Don’s passion for woodworking projects were regular trips to rummage and estate sales, where he would buy restorable furniture and other collectibles.

“I think he was obsessed with rummage sales,” his daughter-in-law Peggy Savatski said. “He couldn’t drive past one without stopping.”

Don also enjoyed grilling and gardening, for many years maintaining a large area for vegetables and flowers on the family property, as well as reading and watching movies, especially those featuring Old West characters and outdoorsmen.

“He did a lot of reading,” his wife said. “Probably one of his best interests was Theodore Roosevelt, and he loved Westerns. He watched a lot of cowboy movies.”

But topping the list of Don’s favorite activities were competitive shooting and bird hunting. A longtime member of the National Rifle Assocation, he honed his skills at the Saukville Gun Club and Wild Wings Sportsmanship Club.

Mark said his father earned a reputation as one of Wisconsin’s top trap shooters, posting 100-straight scores on several occasions and winning state contests in the 1960s and ‘70s. Later, Don also excelled as a shooter in sporting clays.

“As a young boy, I was his witness and followed in his footsteps, trying to be as good as he was,” Mark said. “But I always seemed to be a target behind him most of the time.

“He always wanted to do things just so, even in handling a gun. That’s why he was such a good shot.”

Don is survived by his wife; four children, Donald Jr. of Stanley, Robert (Sally) of Port Washington, Mark (Peggy) of Port Washington and Suzanne (Dan) Brauer of Cedarburg; 10 grandchildren, Christopher Addy, Matthew (Emily) Savatski, Ashley (Max) Sippel, Michael, Marc Elliot (Lisa) and Macayla Savatski, Megan Krohn, and Maxwell, Annie and Emma Brauer; and six great-grandchildren, Elijah Krohn, Olivia and Sawyer Savatski, Tyler Savatski, Howard Sippel and Jaxsen Savatski.

Don is also survived by two sisters, Mary (Theodore “Bill”) Mack and Geraldine (Allan) Banaszak, and special friend Randy.

He was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Patricia (Lloyd) Gasser, Terry (Gordon) Carlson, Evelyn (Richard) Armstrong and Doris Leonard, and grandson Maxwell Savatski.

A Mass of Christian burial for Don was held Monday, Aug. 8, at St. John XXIII Parish, Immaculate Conception Church in Saukville. Father Karl Acker officiated.

Private burial services will be held at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waukesha.

The Savatski family expressed appreciation for the care Don received from physicians and staff at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee and the Ascension Medical Group.

Memorial contributions to the Clinical Cancer Center at Froedtert Hospital are suggested.

Eernisse Funeral Homes & Cremation Services assisted the family.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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