PRINCETON — Donald Evans Ham, 95, of Princeton died Thursday, May 11, 2017, in Rice Lake, Wis.
He was born April 20, 1922, in Barada, Neb., to Clifton and Edith (Dean) Ham. After high school, he joined the CCC, and served 18 months before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1943. Don served as a seabee in the Philippines and New Guinea. After his service, Don married Margaret Hall in Hiawatha, Kan., on March 29, 1946. They began their family while he farmed and attended Diesel Engine School in St. Louis, Mo.
Don worked for several years for the Auburn Municipal Power Plant, then for Worthington Corporation, where he installed and repaired huge diesel engines for power plants throughout the U.S. In 1973, he became power plant manager for the city of Princeton until his retirement.
Don was an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan and took his family to ball games and the St. Louis Zoo. He was a talented woodworker who combined that with his love of nature to create beautiful duck decoys and bird sculptures. Don was involved in the Princeton VFW and the Northern Bluegrass Association for a long part of his life. Don developed an obsessive passion for Bluegrass music, and taught himself to play fiddle, banjo, guitar and mandolin. He and his bands played all throughout Illinois.
He is survived by his children, Barb (Mike) Sorenson of Rice Lake, Wis., and Neal (Margaret) Ham of Omaha, Neb.; four grandchildren, Ted (Michele) Schuler, Tim (Elizabeth) Schuler, Jaymie (Tom) Van Valkenburg and Jessica (Dan) Stalnaker; 14 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandson; and many nieces and nephews.
Don was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret, on March 9, 2015. He was also preceded in death by his siblings, Chester Ham, Ruth Eckley, Mabel Ryder, Leslie Ham, Robert Ham, Herbert Ham, Samuel Ham, Ethel Brown, Vivian Laughlin, Vera Dunn and Alta Faye Stubbs.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 20, at the Hemmingsen Funeral Home in Auburn, Neb., with the Rev. Bob Chitwood officiating. Burial will be in Prairie Union Cemetery in Richardson County, Neb. Pallbearers will be Delbert Eickhoff, Dan Stalnaker, Tom Van Valkenburg, Stephan Schuler, Geoff Schuler and Thomas Schuler. Honorary pallbearers will be Tim Schuler II, Trevor Schuler and Thomas Van Valkenburg Jr.
Visitation will be held for one hour prior to the service.
Services are entrusted to Hemmingsen Funeral Home of Auburn, Neb.