Don Hale
(November 2, 1930 - March 30, 2004)
I began playing soccer when I was six years old. At our very first practice I met a tall, skinny kid named Jason Hale and we soon became close friends - life long friends. It turned out that the tall, skinny father on the sidelines wearing that Tom Landry hat and a subtle smile was Jason's dad, Don. It wasn't long before my parents became good friends with Jason's parents, and our sisters became close too. So I knew Don for roughly 31 of my 37 years - and what a pleasure it was.

Like the other parents of "The Group" (i.e. The Hales, Stones & Mandernachs), Don didn't talk down to us kids like we were, well, kids. That sure meant a lot to me. It also meant a lot to know that I could count on Don if I ever needed him. You always had this feeling that he'd do just about anything for a friend in need. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve Don. Nearly every weekend when I was in Junior High School, me and Jason and our two dads would hop in dad's truck (a.k.a. Godzilla) and head to our land, Brushyland, in East Texas. Those trips were priceless. It was there that Jason and I learned how to build wooden structures, marvel at nature, laugh at eachother, build campfires, ride dirtbikes - hell, just enjoy life. If you go to Brushyland, think of Don - he helped create many fond memories out there and he helped build many of the structures.

Don also taught me how to replace a window pane - after I broke it, of course. Jason and I were playing soccer with a nerf soccer ball that had gotten wet (and thus very heavy). I cracked a shot (somewhat of a rarity for me) that went by Jason and straight through one of the Hale's windows. Oops. Don wasn't mad but he took me and Jason to the hardware store so we'd know what all was needed to repair a window. And then he had me and Jason remove the remnants of the old pane and install the new one, with verbal guidance from Don, of course. It was a gentle lesson from a caring man - one that I won't forget. I'll also never forget the look on Don's face as he and dad asked me and Jason to get out of our warm sleeping bags at 2am on a cold winter's night at Brushyland to get some Oreo cookies and orange juice from the nearby "Kitchen" - and Jason and I did it. Ah, the things you'll do for an Oreo when you're 12 years old.

I included some pictures of Don at the bottom of this page and I described more memories I have of him. And there are some short video clips of him at the bottom of the page too. But be sure to read the eulogy that my dad, Dan Stone, wrote. I included a link to it at the end of this paragraph. Dad tried to read it at Don's service but his poignant words wouldn't allow him to get through it. So I finished reading it for him - it was a somber honor I'll never forget. You see, dad and Don remained very close friends. In fact, their friendship grew stronger with age. Dad wrote one hell of a eulogy - the personal aspects of it are very touching. Even I don't know the hidden meanings behind some of it. But I do know the story of "Redbud", which is mentioned toward the end. Don was in the hospital - in the sixth year of his battle against cancer - and dad asked him what the name of the trees were that were beginning to bud. Don wasn't feeling very well at the time and even had an oxygen mask to help him breath more easily. Dad kept naming different names of trees and finally Don slowly removed his masked and whispered, "Redbud". It was one of the last words Don spoke to his good friend.

Click here to read dad's eulogy.

November 1975 - Don turns 45. Don seems pretty happy holding his R-rated cake that my mom had made for him. Don rarely wanted to be the center of attention, but he was always a hoot when the spotlight found him.
The Hale Family in Red River, NM - Summer 1976. This picture was taken on our first "Group" trip to the beautiful Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico. There would be many more such trips. Don was a lot of fun on these trips (check out the video of him "trick" riding below).
Don & Billie Hale at Brushyland - Fall 1980. I love this picture. Billie and Don were married for 46 years.
Red River, NM - Summer 1981.
Gold Hill (elev. 12,716 ft) - Summer 1981.
During a Red River, NM trip we would often hike up Gold Hill, the 14th highest point in New Mexico. It's a spectacular view from the top.
Thanksgiving 1988. Since 1979, several families have celebrated Thanksgiving at Brushyland. Don almost always carved the turkey. We also celebrate Easter at Brushyland. Don and Dan used to hide the Easter Eggs for the big Easter Egg hunt that involved people of all ages.
Don & Dad at Mt. Rushmore - May 2003.
Don and my father took many trips together over the years. It goes without saying that they had a hell of a good time together.

Windows Media Video Clips Of Don

If you don't have the Windows Media player you can get the free version by clicking here. On some connections, the video may be a bit jerky as it "buffers" while streaming in the video.   In that case you might let it completely finish and then click the play button again.

Don Hale - March 1986 - sitting in Brushyland's new outhouse (22 seconds)
Don Hale - March 1986 - in boat with Dan, Pat & Billie (36 seconds)
Don Hale - Summer 1986 - trick riding in Red River, NM (25 seconds)

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