Cover photo for Donald Tronson's Obituary
1938 Donald 2015

Donald Tronson

September 28, 1938 — June 4, 2015

Donald DeWayne Tronson was born September 28, 1938, just outside Medicine Lake, Montana. He was born on the current site of his own barn because, at the time of his birth, his brothers and sisters were sick with croup, so Grandma Lu Tronson decided to go down the road a bit to have him. He was the youngest of 6 children born to Lu and Melvin Tronson, Sr. He had a fun and work-filled childhood, growing up on the Tronson farm. He learned from his World War I veteran father and his very hard-working mother to do everything "just so." His particularity, cleanliness, efficiency, and diligence were traits that he learned, fostered, and passed on to his own children. Donald attended Medicine Lake Schools throughout his childhood. He was an average student, and a mischievous one. He played football in high school, and broke his leg and likely his nose several times due to how crooked it turned out. He graduated in 1956 along with many of his lifetime-long friends and classmates. After high school, he ran away to Billings, Montana, where he volunteered to join the army and served in San Diego, California, and Fort Eustis, Virginia, among other places. In the army he served as a helicopter mechanic and took the opportunity to ride in them as often as he could get away with it. He often spoke of loving furlough trips to Virginia Beach and hating a several-week sea-sick journey by boat from Virginia to Greenland. Upon honorable release from his army service, Donald stayed in Billings where he found his first love: truck driving. He drove for G.D. Eastlick and was known for his work ethic, quickly and efficiently unloading palettes or sacks of cargo armload by armload, which later contributed to his need for shoulder replacement in both arms at a young age. In his later years, Don was often quoted to say "I've driven more miles backwards than you have going forward" to anyone who thought they could call themselves a truck driver. He carried himself like a true professional and kept himself and his truck cleaner and better maintained than anyone on the road. He never needed a map and folks knew him by name in every truck stop throughout the west. In 1965, Donald met the love of his life. And where better for a man whose first love was truck driving to find his true love, but a truck stop? Carrol Lindsay and her sister Myrna were waitresses in the truck stop where Don often came to eat. At that time he drove a brown truck and Carrol and Myrna coined the nickname "Brownie" for the sharp, crew-cut bearing, and somewhat quiet observer who seemed to gravitate toward sitting in Carrol's station. Little did Don know, that that nickname would affectionately be used by his future wife and by those close to him throughout his life. Donald and Carrol Lindsay were married June 1, 1966, in Billings by a Latter-Day-Saint bishop. Carrol's LDS faith and Donald's old-fashioned upbringing complemented each other well for the most part as they had first identical twin boys (Ted and Brad) in 1967, then a daughter (Janice) in 1971, and finally another daughter (Wendy) in 1974. Donald and family stayed in Billings on a small farm until the death of his father, Melvin. In 1971 they moved back to Medicine Lake to be near his mother Lu, and began setting up their own pig and grain farm just a quarter mile east. They lived temporarily with Lu during construction of their own home and Carrol always said those 10 months might have been the longest of her life! Don and Carrol and family loved and served Lu until her death in 2000. Farming life was the perfect complement to Donald's truck driving career. When it was time to watch the crops grow, Don would head out in the truck. As his children grew older and off to college, Don and Carrol would take semi trips together to Idaho and Utah to make some money and visit the kids. Don always liked to kill two birds with one stone and hated to do anything that didn't include making money! When it was time to farm, Don did it with a Gleaner. He enjoyed being one of the few with a gleaming silver combine on the horizon and liked even better knowing how to fix the old Gleaner himself. He never had all 10 fingers without one being blackened, broken, or smashed, but luckily never lost a finger either. Don farmed with pride and precision. He cultivated the straightest rows and never allowed a single spill hauling wheat off the fields to the bins. His wife and kids knew they had to quickly cover up any spills or mistakes made on his beloved farm or there would be heck to pay. With all the hard work he did, Don never let the farming interrupt his morning coffee at the Cafe, or flipping for Pepsis at Herman Oil. And after a long day of farming or trucking, the Lazy Boy was where he planted himself, with a view of the paper and of the highway to see who was driving by. Donald was a great support, although sometimes begrudgingly, to his wife's love of animals and his children's love of participating in every sport, club, and musical event around. He attended basketball, volleyball, football games, track meets, and concerts. He drove across the state to tournaments and a few cherished championship games, through snowstorms and parted ways with a few too many dollar bills. But we all know that through it all, Don wouldn't have changed a thing and would support his loved ones in whatever they needed him to do. Don and Carrol loved being so close to life-long neighbors and friends, but especially family. Medicine Lake was truly home for them. Even with all the kids moving off to Utah, it was still hard to get Don to leave home for more than a couple of days. He and Carrol were two peas in a pod, doing everything together and never wanting to be apart from each other. When Carrol passed away in May 2009 after a long battle with cancer, Don found himself alone even with the great support of his brothers and sisters and friends. The stress of losing the love of his life caused a stroke in November 2009 that found Don paralyzed on half of his body and weakened on the other. The kids felt it best to have him close to them and flew him to a nursing home in Utah where he remained, with very frequent visits from his beloved children and grandchildren who made a tradition of weekly Sunday night visits and lunches out. He was a uniting force for the whole family, bringing them together to share home-cooked meals brought in to the nursing home. The family, together, enjoyed meals outside just like the meals Carrol and kids would bring him in the field during harvest time, eaten under the shade of the Gleaner. Donald is survived by all of his older siblings: Mae Reynolds (Keith) of Molt; William of Medicine Lake; Betty Hendrickson (Richard) of Medicine Lake; Melvin Jr. (Charlotte) of Medicine Lake; and Shirley Wallander (Greg) of Billings. He is also survived by his four children: Ted (Lisa, children: Ashley, Tanner, Morgan, Jaxon) of Provo, Utah; Brad (Cathleen, children: Nicholas, Hailee) of Lehi, Utah; Janice Green (Garry, children: Tyler, Lindsay, Spencer, Samuel) of Orem, Utah; Wendy Busath (Erik, children: Emma, Ashlyn, Austin, Jake) of Springville, Utah. He was preceded in death by his wife of 43 years, Carrol Lindsay Tronson, and parents, Melvin Sr. and Lu Tronson of Medicine Lake. The funeral service will be held Friday, June 19th at 2:00pm in the Medicine Lake Fire Hall. His remains to be interred following the service in Medicine Lake Cemetery, which overlooks the farm he called home his entire life.
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