Donald Carney age 85.
It was a warm day that August 21, 1934 when Don was born at Lakeside Hospital in Rice Lake, WI. He weighed in at one and a half pounds and stayed in the nursery for six weeks. As staff and family wondered about his survival, little did they know he would have a stellar career with the United States Park Service and retire into the role of Rice Lake historian.
He was Francis and Eleanor Carney’s first born, and home was above the Chronotype building on Main Street.
Don is survived by his wife of 37 years, Darlene McKinnon Carney and her son, Jim McKinnon and her grandson, Ben Greiner. He is also survived by his sister, Roxie Olsen (Bob Gerber) and a niece, Suzanne Pris (Andrew); and nephews, Christopher Olsen (Mary) and Patrick Olsen (Dannica) and great nieces and nephews, Mac, TJ, Tom, Lexi, Brindley and Briggs. “Uncle Don” was always the favored relative in the family.
Don graduated from RLHS, and then left for the University of Wisconsin, Madison. That journey was interrupted by time in the Army (Europe) and he returned briefly to UW-Eau Claire before receiving his degree from UW Madison in 1959. He majored in physical geography and hoped to fulfill his dream of working in the outdoors. Don was on the waiting list for a U.S. Park Service position for three years with 2,700 names in front of his. The entomology department UW Madison invited him to work during the interim--traveling the nation and researching varieties of insects. Several of his insect/butterfly/moth collections are still on display in Sweden.
His park career began at Morristown National Historical Monument in New Jersey. It was during his stay there that he began researching the Knapp-Stout lumbering era and honed his research and writing skills. The next move took him to Mammoth Cave National Park as a Park Ranger, and in 1967 he moved to Death Valley National Monument in California. His years there filled him with enough adventure to research and tell stories the rest of his life. He was given an award by the United States government for his role in the capture of Charles Manson and he maintained a relationship with all of those involved in Manson’s capture. The park service honored him with a request to represent them formally when Lady Bird Johnson visited Death Valley, and also to represent the service at Eleanor Roosevelt’s funeral at Hyde Park, NY.
Don was the guest keynote speaker for the Rice Lake City Centennial, served on city council as an alderman, and has served his native city with hundreds of presentations over the years. His most recent foray was at the ‘new’ library where he was so warmly received. He was an incredible photographer with many cover photos on Scientific America magazines and National Wildlife as well. His written articles on varied outdoor topics have been published worldwide, and we are blessed to read his Ink Blog column in the local paper. He also was a meteorologist and studied the solar flares for accurate forecasts over the years.
But most of all, Don loved walking his dog Prancer at the fair grounds, riding his bike to have lunch with his friends at Hardees, and ice skating the moment the lake froze each winter. Summers found him at his Christmas tree farm in central Wisconsin shearing trees and mowing grass. He leaves a legacy of a life well lived and dedicated to making this earth a better place for future generations. His presence touched many; he was our own Renaissance man.
Don will be laid to rest at a private service at the Northern Wisconsin Veterans Cemetary in Spooner. Appleyard’s Home for Funerals in Rice Lake is in charge of the arrangements.