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Donald Joseph Wirth

March 19, 1937 ~ December 23, 2023 (age 86) 86 Years Old

Donald Wirth Obituary

Donald Joseph Wirth, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, community leader, and friend, passed away on December 23, 2023, surrounded by the love of his family in Naples, Florida. Funeral services will be held on March 2, 2024, at 11:00 AM at St. Williams Catholic Church, 601 Seagate Drive, Naples, FL. A Celebration of Life will be held on May 4, 2024, at the Evanston Golf Club, 4401 Dempster Street, Skokie, IL at 3:00 PM, with remarks at 4:00 PM, concluding at 6:00 PM. Memorials can be made in lieu of flowers to the Salvation Army.

Born on March 19, 1937, in Mount Carmel, IL, Don was the first child of Gilbert Michael Wirth and Lorena Catherine Berberich Wirth. Don is preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Marlene, and his brother, Gary. Don is survived by his wife Judith, his three daughters, Shelly Wirth Williams (Daniel Williams), Catherine Sue Iverson (Perry Iverson), Debra Wirth Shawver (Michael Shawver), and his grandchildren, Callie and Sara Williams, Emily (Max) Nicassio and Garrett Iverson, Greta, Porter, and Eva Shawver.

Don graduated from University of Illinois in 1959 with a B.S. in Parks and Recreation Administration, followed quickly by a M.S. in 1961. He married Judith Ann Thompson on September 14, 1963, in Champaign, IL. 

Don was passionate about improving the lives of others in his community through accessible public spaces of recreation and leisure. He held various positions in Parks and Recreation Administration in Brookfield, WI, Evanston, IL, and Naples, FL. Throughout his career, he was awarded various accolades by the National Recreation and Park Association for his commitment to the Parks and Recreation profession.

Don served as the Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry in the city of Evanston from 1971 to 1995. In his 24 years of service, Don spearheaded numerous impactful projects for the community, including: developing the Evanston lakefront, two new community centers, a cultural arts center, community theater, an ice arena, the Ladd Memorial Arboretum and Evanston Ecology Center, and managed 80 parks across the city. He also oversaw the development of school-based programs, free recreation and arts programs, and sports and social programs for all ages.

Don’s passion for serving his community extended into Naples, Fl when he assumed the role of Community Services Director in 1996. Of mention, Don helped start the first public pickleball program in the city of Naples at Fleischmann Park. He also worked closely with the County Commissioners of Collier County to start the effort to build pickleball courts in East Naples Park. Don was also involved in the redevelopment of Cambier Park.

Don served in the army, National Guard, and was a member of Kiwanis and the Knights of Columbus. Don lived an active Catholic Faith and was a University of Illinois sports fan. He ran his first of two marathons at age 65 and enjoyed competing in the Senior Games in Franklin, NC where they enjoyed time in their second home. Don won medals for pickleball, race-walking, long jump, shot put, table tennis, and football throw, among many others. Of utmost importance to Don was spending time with his family and friends and entertaining them with stories of his childhood. 

Don leaves behind a legacy of love, servitude, and zest that will be cherished by all who had the privilege of knowing him.

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Funeral Service
March 2, 2024

11:00 AM
St. Williams Catholic Church (Naples, FL)
Guaranteed delivery before the Funeral Service begins

Celebration of Life
May 4, 2024

3:00 PM
Evanston Golf Club (Dempster Street, Skokie)
Guaranteed delivery before the Celebration of Life begins


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