Donald Lester Neumann

Published 3:07 pm Friday, March 13, 2020

Our beloved Donald Lester Neumann, age 89, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 10 surrounded by his two children and wife of 64 years.

Don was born to Lester and Cornelia Neumann on January 14, 1931, in East Alton, Ill. He has two sisters, Carol Preston of East Alton, Ill., and Janet Nine of The Villages, Fla. and a brother Paul Neumann of Ft. Meyers, Fla. Growing up in East Alton, Don worked on his father’s poultry farm and loved to ride horses.

Don met his beautiful wife, Marjorie Ann Stelbrink, on a group date between two separate college boarding houses. Don drew the name of the beauty pageant winner as his date. They married in 1955 and have two children, Mark Neumann (married to Peggy Condon) and Heidi Blankenship (married to Doug Blankenship). They have four grandchildren, Daniel, Robert and Marina Neumann, and Berit Blankenship.

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Don was a considerate, caring and generous husband, father and grandfather. Margie, Heidi, Mark and their families now live near Chapel Hill, N.C.

Working his way through college, he graduated with a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois, specializing in construction. Shortly after graduation, he was called to duty as a lieutenant in the Air Force and trained in communications, learning electronics. He then served in the Korean War, stationed in Pusan. After the war, Don continued to serve in the Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard, retiring as a major.

Upon returning from Korea, Don married Margie and started work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a civil engineer, designing levees. While working, and leveraging his knowledge of electronics from the Air Force, he completed computer programming courses at Washington University in St. Louis. This prepared him for the opportunity to establish and run the first automated data processing center in Mississippi at the Waterways Experiment Station. The family moved to Vicksburg in 1957. While expanding the ADP center, Don continued his education in computers and eventually taught courses, including the first computer course at Mississippi College. Don’s son Mark and grandchildren Dan, Robert, and Marina eventually followed him into the computer field. Don was quite proud to say that he was the first of three generations of computer programmers.

Besides family and career, Don was very active in other pursuits. Leveraging his construction education, Don designed and built his own 2700-sq. ft. split level home, hiring several shop students from the local high school and teaching them construction.

Prior to Korea, Don learned how to fly airplanes, eventually flying over 2,700 hours. He was an accomplished pilot earning his instrument ratings and commercial license.

For a period, he operated a 24×7 air taxi service in his spare time from the Vicksburg Airport. Later, he restored a derelict 1947 Luscombe Sedan for which he won prizes at the Sun and Fun fly-in event in Florida.

As a leader of the local Civil Air Patrol squadron, he organized the restoration of a surplus Piper L4 Observation plane for the group.

Don was a big supporter of the Vicksburg community, participating in the Vicksburg Lions Club for 25 years (retiring as president) followed by a long membership in the Vicksburg Rotary Club. He also assisted Boy Scout Troop 7 in renovating a building to use for meetings.

After retiring from the Corps of Engineers, Don established his own payroll processing service bureau called DATAPAK. He re-wrote the payroll software into a new PC product called PayKwik that he sold all over the United States, as far away as a Taco Bell chain in California.

Due to the coronavirus, Don’s children have decided to postpone the visitation for their dad. We thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

The family requests that instead of flowers, Don would have preferred donations to fight Alzheimers, as done by the Alzheimers Association. Fisher-Riles Funeral Home, 5000 Indiana Ave., has charge of arrangements.