Donald M. ‘Don’ Elsing

Resided in Cornell, MI
Died December 27, 2017

Donald “Don” Maurice Elsing, age 80, passed away from colon cancer on December 27, 2017 at his home in Cornell, surrounded by those who treasured him.

Don was born April 5, 1937 in Kendall, Wisconsin, the son of Maurice and Dorothy (Hansen) Elsing. He was raised in Kendall and graduated from Kendall High School in 1955. In 1958, Don enlisted in the United States Marine Corp and served his country proudly from 1958 to 1960. Don graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1964 and on June 15, 1968 he was united in marriage to Phyllis Sterk in DePere, Wisconsin.

For Don, there where never enough hours in the day, nor days in his lifetime. Don died as he lived: bravely and on his own terms, squeezing every last bit of life from his body.
Don took enormous pride and satisfaction in his work as a Wildlife Biologist. His career with the Forest Service was spent on the Shawnee and the Superior, and on the Hiawatha until his retirement in 1993. But Don never really retired, carrying his passion for management of habitat and wildlife with him until his last days. His biologist skills were first rate and he prided himself on being a field biologist, providing outstanding wildlife management science to decision makers and never fearing to speak truth to power. He inspired many resource managers, nurturing a passion about wildlife in those around him. He was particularly proud of the role he played in overseeing the recovery of numerous wildlife species in the UP including the bald eagle and the Sandhill crane. He also developed the management guidelines, many of which are still in use today, for several hundred wildlife species on the forest. If indeed God treasures all creatures great and small, Don is in heaven now, assessing the habitat conditions of the ever-after and getting acquainted with wildlife species new to him like the ivory-billed woodpecker, passenger pigeon and perhaps even the dinosaurs!

Don never rested. He was always in the midst of one or several projects and planning for the next. His game management skills also included harvesting: he was an avid hunter, angler and trapper, traveling the country and the world.

After Don retired, his focus turned from work to his family. In the last month of his life, his energy turned to recording many of the stories and life lessons from his life for his grandkids, hoping to continue to nurture and teach them after his death.

Although proud of his wildlife management legacy, his most important legacy was his family: his wife of 49 years Phyllis, his 2 daughters Dr. Erica (Jeff) Stevens of Rockford, MI and Julie Winkelbauer of Rock, MI; his grandchildren, Cheveney and Landry Koski and Mara and Logan Stevens; his brother, John Elsing of Kendall, WI and a few nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Julie’s husband, Scott Winkelbauer and John’s wife, Dorothy”Dort” Elsing.

The Elsing family will receive friends on Tuesday, January 2 from 11:00 AM to 12:45 PM at the Faith Lutheran Church in Rock. Military Honors will be presented by the Rock American Legion Post 559 at 12:45 PM. Memorial Services will follow at 1:00 PM with Pastor Rell Spickerman officiating. A luncheon will follow in the fellowship hall.

Memorial services will also be held at the Fountain Lutheran Church and Cemetery in Kendall in the spring.

The family is enormously grateful to UP Home Health and Hospice for their care, and sincerely thanks Don’s many friends for their visits, calls and letters.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Don’s name can be directed to the charity of the donor’s choice.

All of us who were blessed to know Don will remember him for the impact he left upon this world, as well as upon ourselves.

17 Tributes for “Donald M. ‘Don’ Elsing

    Love and Sympathy to Phyllis, Erica and Julie. Love you lots. Treasure our visit with you this Fall. Praying for strength and peace for all of you. Your Southern Illinois neighbors and friends, Jim & Marilyn Ellis

    Long lives all of the fun and fellowship we enjoyed at your house and ours!

    Our sympathies to the entire Elsing family on your loss. Don had been a frequent “camp and coffee” visitor of ours for many years. The coffee went down great as many of Don’s stories were revealed. What a life Don had! If ever we had a wildlife or forestry question, he knew the answer. And, he was always right! We’re going to miss those hours long conversations. He was history in one large package. Yes, RIP, Don.

    Our thoughts of this great loss, are of what remains of his passion to improve the welfare of his family, wildlife, and friends.
    From far above an eagle’s view, Don will, I am sure, be watching over all he valued here on earth.

    RIP Don, you will be greatly missed. One of a kind good soul. I can not be with you this day as I will be heading for a hunt you love. As day breaks I will be thinking of you and that which you cherish.

    To the Entire Elsing Family,
    Our deepest sympathy on the loss of a very special person in our lives. Don was always a mentor and great counselor to me. We enjoyed our shared interests in wildlife, especially when it came working on bald eagles. I was happy that we could get him out one last time to a nest this summer with the field crew. He will be greatly missed and we can all be comforted that he passed on his terms, living life to the fullest. Our condolences and prayers for the family as you celebrate a great man’s life.

    Phyllis and family
    I will miss him and his tales when he’d stop in at camp for coffee. the fun we had fishing for sea trout. I am glad to be able to say good bye at the hunters dinner. I will miss his visits at camp.

    Phyl, sending prayers, love, and treasured memories of the precious times spent with you and Don. Though I can’t attend services on Tuesday, please know I’ll be with you in spirit. God bless you!

    Our thoughts and prayers to the Elsing family. Don was a great friend and mentor. His teachings and stories will live on in our hearts. Don will be truly missed.

    My sincerest heart felt sympathy to the entire family. Where does one begin to describe such an extraordinary person as Don. He was such an inspirational teacher sharing his gift of knowledge of our natural world and his genuine love and respect of the creatures that inhabit it. Don’s legacy continues as he was the solid foundation that championed the return of many extirpated animals to healthy populations that we witness today. I am reminded of him every time I see a pine marten, fisher, peregrine falcon, or trumpeter swan to name a few creatures he personally helped along the way. What an honor and privilege to be blessed with such an admirable mentor and dear friend as Don. Comfort prayers to his family, with much gratitude love and respect for his beautiful life

    I am a retired Michigan DNR Wildlife Biologist who worked at Sault Ste. Marie and Newberry. I had the pleasure of working with Don on wildlife species and issues primarily on the Eastern part of the Hiawatha Forest. I consider Don a good friend and colleague.

    One only had to talk with Don for a minute to know that he was a friend to many. We live in rural Kendall. Every so often Don would stop by to chat – tell a story or joke – share his latest catch of fish with us – all over a cup of coffee. The last time Don was here last fall, he forgot his cap. Many times I thought we should return it to his house, but never did. Now we are left with delightful memories of Don’s “popping in” – always having a few laughs together and somehow knowing Don left his cap to a friend – deliberately.

    RIP Don. Sympathy to the Elsing family. So sorry for your loss, he was a great man. I read about this in The County Line this week, did not know he passed. He would stop in and see Gary and I every chance he got when he was in the area. Will be greatly missed. Please let us know when his memorial service will be in the spring. Take care all. My husband is Melvin Hanson’s son.

    My deepest sympathy to the Elsing family. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Don early in my Forest Service career on the Hiawatha National Forest. Don provided me, as a member of the Land Management Planning team, with excellent data and opinions on all wildlife related issues. He was a great friend and co-worker. My prayers are with you.

    David cassidy a former student of us forest Service work program in clam lake Wisconsin in 1966 and 1967. So glad I saw you on your 80th birthday party and surprised him. Glad we discussed the past and people we were working with and that he enjoyed his big birthday present (hunting knife). So wonderful that we shared a great day. I appreciate Don and Dennis greatly for our close friendship that developed again. Great supervisors!!!
    Enjoy the animals in heaven!
    Love David cassidy and Lisa Zacker

Post a Tribute

Your email address will not be published. Tributes are moderated before posted. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.