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Updated May 1, 2012, 1:20 p.m.

Donald Peaslee, 85, former owner of Peaslee (now Schauer/Do It Best) Hardware and former president of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce during the 1960s and ’70s, died on April 26, 2012. Born on Jan. 18, 1927, he served in the U.S. Army at Ft. Sheridan. He received his undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree from Berea College Kentucky. Later he attended the University of Minnesota, working toward his Ph.D. in education from 1952-1958. He left to join his father at Peaslee Hardware Company in Forest Park, the store his grandfather helped found in 1910. He became co-owner of the store in 1958 until he sold it in 1987 to the Schauer family, said his wife Betty.

“He was very quiet and a gentleman – an excellent businessman,” said fellow former Chamber president Carl Schwebl. “Peaslee Hardware was an anchor on Madison Street in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. He did a lot for Madison Street and a lot for the town. You could always count on Don.”

Don was beloved by all for his intelligence, wonderful dry sense of humor, and his knowledge of how all things work. Daughter Katharine was amazed that he always knew just what do to to.

His grandchildren admired his silliness and encouragement in their various interests.

Daughter Susan remembers her father’s patience teaching her about the hardware business where she worked from age 12. Daughter Diana also enjoyed working at the store beginning at age 16. This duty also involved being on call at all hours of the night whenever the store alarm would sound and police were summoned. Daughter Kristin also served as chauffer and remembers a drive to the airport in a snowstorm. She accidentally hit the moonroof “open” button, piling them under four inches of snow. Don’s reaction was heartfelt laughter.

Sister Ruth ruefully remembers him halting streetcar traffic on busy Chicago Avenue in the 1930’s by standing in the middle of the street with arms spread wide whenever she wanted to cross the street to visit friends.

Wife Betty fondly remembers some of the travails of merging two families of 5 children ages 11 to 19.

His first marriage to Gretchen Larson ended with her untimely death in 1973. His marriage to Betty Barr in 1975 joined the two families and they were very happily married for the last 37 years. Theirs was the first marriage to take place in the newly merged First United Church of Oak Park, where the family was very active.

He was the father of Susan Marotta (Mark), Andrew Peaslee, Katharine Tyler (Robert), Diana Long (David), Kristin Barr (Arien Malec); and the grandfather of Tim Tyler (Jon Schildt), Charlie Tyler, Christine Arnold, Katharine Long, Anthony Marotta (Christal), Michael Marotta, Lisa Marotta, Thalia Barr-Malec, Xavier Barr-Malec, and Abigail Peaslee; and three great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 12 at 1 p.m. at First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake St., Oak Park. In lieu of flowers, donations to First United Church of Oak Park or Tuberous Sclerosis, P.O. Box 79606, Baltimore, MD 21279 or Crohns & Colitis Foundation, 386 Park Ave, 17th floor, New York, NY 10016 are appreciated.

Arrangements were handled by Drechsler Brown & Williams Funeral Home, Oak Park.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...