Cover photo for Donald Manthei's Obituary
1932 Donald 2016

Donald Manthei

September 2, 1932 — February 18, 2016

Donald Frederick Manthei was born in the middle of the Great Depression on September 2, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois to his proud parents Otto and Virginia Manthei. He was a surprise baby, his older sister Irma was 14 years older than him. She doted on him every day and they were very close throughout their lifetime. From the time he was seven years old he was fascinated with aviation. He decided then and there that he wanted to be a pilot. So he worked hard to earn money to pay for the training. From the time he was seven years old he held odd jobs such as newspaper delivery boy. He was really good at selling magazine subscriptions to the women in the neighborhood, and he also delivered milk by bicycle to all of the families in the neighborhood. He saved all the money he earned to pay for flight lessons.

When he became a sophomore in High School at the age of 15, he and two of his best friends decided to take flight lessons at the local airport outside Chicago. He said their goal was to solo by their 16th birthday and earn their pilot's license. All three friends were able to accomplish that goal. Dad was the youngest of the group. He eventually soloed on his 16th birthday unbeknownst to his mother who had a surprise birthday party waiting for him at home. He was 2 hours late getting home, upon which his mother inquired about his whereabouts. He triumphantly exclaimed with a proud smile on his face that he had just finished flying his first flight, solo. She had a hard time believing it was true, because he hadn't informed her, that he was even taking flight lessons. Once she got over her surprise, she gave him some heartfelt advice to make sure that he always flew low and slow so that he would be safe. He always laughed when he told us this story, because her advice was the exact opposite of how you would need to fly an airplane, to be safe.

After his group of friends earned their student pilot's licenses, they decided to buy an airplane together, and worked hard to save up $1000 dollars. They purchased an arrow sport open cockpit side by side wheel control monoplane with a Ford V-8 engine. Here is a story in his own words of an experience he had flying that plane. He states: "When taking off one morning I reached an altitude of 400 feet and suddenly my engine started shaking and vibrating, making ominous strange noises. I looked around for a place to land, but saw only houses beneath me. I flew back to the airport and entered the traffic pattern staying close to the airport in case the engine quit. I made a short downwind leg and landed safely. Upon examination of the torn down engine we found that one of the Pistons had broken in two. Why the engine continued to run I couldn't imagine, except that the Lord was with me." He always shared his belief in God with us. This experience happened to him many years before he became a member of the church.

Dad enjoyed sports and played left tackle for his high school football team. He also wrestled and ran track. He loved to be physically active and maintained a healthy lifestyle throughout his life. He was an avid runner and participated in many races such as the Boston Marathon and the New York marathon. Recently he loved to run in the 10K and 5k races around the valley where he often placed first in his age category.

After Don graduated from High School he went on to study at the University of Illinois where he became a flight instructor. He joined the Sigma Chi fraternity group where he maintained many lifelong friendships. Upon graduation he joined the United States Air Force in 1955 where he was able to live out his dream, flying fighter jets, such as the F86 and the F102. He was based in Long Island and at Perrin AFB in Texas. He served a total of eight years in the military achieving the rank of Captain. It was in the Air Force that he was first introduced to the Mormon Church by his friend Gerry Hall. Instead of carousing with the other pilots, he could be found quietly discussing religious doctrine in a quiet room with the Mormon boys. He didn't drink and he didn't smoke decisions he had made all on his own, to keep himself healthy. He took the discussions from the missionaries and decided to be baptized. He was baptized in a freezing cold river in Nebraska while serving on an Air Force assignment. He stayed true and active in the Mormon church, throughout the duration of his life. He never shied away from sharing his testimony about the church with his family and friends and anyone who would listen.

After serving in the Airforce for seven and a half years, he chose to hang up his wings and left the military to pursue a master's degree. He studied at BYU for a while and then eventually finished his master's degree at Austin college. After obtaining his degree he was able to go to work for Pan American World Airways. He became a Captain on the 747 and flew international routes based out of New York. He also was a Captain on the Airbus A310, where he was based in Berlin Germany. He flew flights all around Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the United States. He was lucky enough to be able to fly for a living and he loved every minute of it! He remained an active pilot flying Cessna 172's from the South Valley Airport in Salt Lake City from 1992 through 2015.

When Don was not busy flying he enjoyed his other passion in life, his family. Don first met his wife Liliane Raimond, while flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet on a Pan Am flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong. Lili was working the flight as a flight attendant and was assigned to the first class area. It was a night flight and only one passenger had their reading light on. So she decided to go check if there was anything that he needed. They began to talk and they found a lot in common. Dad asked her if she would like to go on a date with him after they arrived in Hong Kong and she agreed. They hit it off and the rest was history. Dad introduced the Mormon religion to mom and she was excited to learn about it. She took all 8 discussions while on a 3 day trip in Oslo, Norway, so that when she returned to her base in San Fransisco, she was ready to be baptized. The missionaries in her area needed to teach her at least 2 discussions before they could baptize her, so she eagerly took them and was promptly baptized into the Mormon church, where she remained faithful and active throughout her life.

Don and Lili were married on February 19th, 1972, in the Manhattan LDS ward chapel in New York City. They were sealed two years later on February 21, 1974, in the Manti Temple in Manti, Utah. They went on to adopt three children from South America, a daughter named Anita and two sons named Mark and David. Don and Lili were made for each other, a truly happy couple. After 31 years of marriage Lili passed away from complications of Alzheimer's disease. The tender love and charity that Don showed in caring for his wife for the 10 years that she battled with the disease, was a shining testament to his character, and what kind of a loving and caring man he was.

Don passed away on Thursday Feb. 18th, 2016, from complications of Parkinson's. He battled the effects of this disease valiantly for about eight years but unfortunately developed a lung abscess, that he was not able to recover from. He stayed physically active until the last month before he passed. There is a story that we heard from the workout facility that he attended. Some of the patrons witnessed him doing one handed chin-ups back in October of last fall. Everyone was amazed at the upper body strength he displayed in his older years. They said he was doing about 6 to eight in a row, and they were so amazed because they couldn't even finish one. Don was a fighter and always fought to make the best of any situation. He was the first to help out and he always had an encouraging positive uplifting message of council to leave with you if you were willing to listen to him. He will be sorely missed by his three children, Anita, Mark and David, and by his 12 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren. We wish him all the best in his next adventure and look forward to reuniting with him in the eternities.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, February 22, 2016 at the Cottonwood Heights Stake Center, 6890 S. Whitmore Way, Cottonwood Heights, UT. There will be a viewing from 10:00 to 10:45 a.m. prior to services at the church. Interment will be at Mountain View Cemetery, 3115 East 7800 South.
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