Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Donald L. Evenstad

CRYSTAL FALLS, Mich. - Donald L. Evenstad, 96, passed away peacefully on Sept. 9, 2019, in Crystal Falls, Mich..

Donald was born on Oct. 31, 1922, to the late Axel and Lillian Evenstad. He was a lifelong resident of Ironwood.

In 1949, Donald married his wife, Jeanne Castle. Donald and Jeanne celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Sept. 3, 2019.

Donald graduated from Luther L. Wright High School in Ironwood in 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1943. He served as a coxswain in the Pacific during World War II on the battleship USS Pensacola. Donald manned the crow's nest 150 feet up in the air on the Pensacola, spotting Japanese planes, ships and submarines. The Pensacola and her crew experienced heavy battles and was brought back to San Francisco for repairs. Unbeknownst to the crew, the Pensacola was outfitted to carry the atomic bomb, but the ship had failed its testing maneuvers. The USS Indianapolis was then sent to carry the atomic bomb; and after accomplishing that mission, the USS Indianapolis was sunk by the Japanese in what would be called the worst naval disaster in U.S. history. After serving almost 4 years in the Pacific and helping win the war, Donald and his shipmates arrived in San Francisco only to be told they needed him and a small part of the crew to head back out to pick up Navy sailors in Guam.

After the war, Donald returned to his job with the Chicago North Western Railroad. Donald loved working the rails and stayed with the company 45 years before retiring. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, gardening and fixing things. In 1949 he built a cottage in Watersmeet, and spent much time there with his family enjoying time at the lake. An avid outdoorsman, he also spent time at the hunting camp in North Ironwood where he hunted deer, bear, and rabbit.

After retirement, he took up woodcarving and became a master carver of birds and ducks and taught woodcarving classes at Gogebic Community College. He was a member of the Gogebic Range Carvers and Woodworkers Association. He became involved in the refurbishing and carving of many of the large Indianhead signs seen throughout the area.

He was preceded in death by his son, Kevin Evenstad; and his sister, Patricia Jerow.

Donald is survived by his wife, Jeanne; his children, Colleen (Walter Genther) Evenstad of Penfield, N.Y., Paul (Jeannene) Evenstad of Broomfield, Colo., Christopher Evenstad of Fraser, Colo., Melissa (Andy) Sorensen of Independence, Minn. and daughter-in-law, Sue Blekicki of Boulder, Colo. He was loved by his grandchildren, Oliver, (Sophie) Pouliot, Peter (Carolynne) Pouliot, Alex Pouliot, Eric (Ella) Evenstad, Lukas (Lauren) Sorensen, Emma Sorensen, Kevin Evenstad, Brian Evenstad and Emily Evenstad; and by great-grandchildren, Jack, Owen, Calvin, Maxwell, Oona and Avery.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Ironwood on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 11 a.m. with Fr. Bino Joseph as celebrant, preceded by a visitation one hour prior to the Mass at the church. A luncheon will be held at 1 p.m. at Rigoni's Inn in Ironwood.

Full military rites will be accorded by the Ironwood American Legion Post 5 Honor Guard,

Interment will immediately follow the service at Lakeside Cemetery in Wakefield.

McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home, Ironwood is assisting the family. For more information or to express online condolences, visit

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