Donald “Don” Franklin LaForge, 89, of Cimarron, Colorado, passed away on August 26, 2020 at home in the cabin he built in the mountains above Montrose, Colorado, after battling cancer and Parkinson’s Disease. Family members and good friends were with him as he went.
Don was born to parents Kenneth and Thelma LaForge on September 19, 1930 in Vassar, Michigan. After graduating from Rochester High School in Rochester, Michigan, he decided to stay with his job at a foundry which was being relocated to New Mexico. At that time, he was with his high school sweetheart, Alice Elaine Stephens, so the boss told him, “Marry that girl and come out West!” And he did! So they began their married life and started raising a family in 1949 in a little house in Espanola, New Mexico. They moved around a lot, and Don ended up realizing he had a talent for auto mechanics, so he went to school for that, and spent his life fixing cars and trucks. And yes, he definitely had a talent for it!! They lived in Panaca, Nevada from 1963 to 1990, where they finished raising their family. After his retirement from the Nevada Test Site, they moved to Cimarron, Colorado, where they began building their dream cabin at the Arrowhead Ranch in the mountains above Montrose. They were together for 62 years when
Elaine died in 2011 after suffering several years with Alzheimer’s.
Don was also preceded in death by his parents, his brother Gerry LaForge, and his son-in-law Marty Buschman. His sister, Marilyn Dunlop died just a few days after he did, at the age of 93.
Don is survived by all four of his daughters; Margaret Buschman, Carol LaForge (Jan), Deborah Woolston (Ted), Sandra Carruthers (David), along with an “adopted” daughter, Brenda Hodge Holt, as well as 17 grandchildren, 46 great grandchildren, and 14 great great grandchildren.
Don spent his last 6 years happily, in his beloved cabin with the loving company of his companion and dear friend, Judy Elrichs, who chased away his loneliness, and looked after him during his illness. She helped bring back his smile and his sense of humor after Elaine died. Our family is forever grateful to her.
Don was known for his honesty, his kindness, and generosity. Everyone who knew him loved him. He was always lending a helping hand to anyone in need, and he was a sure bet if you needed help or advice, whether it was fixing a car, (he was the world’s best mechanic!), planting a garden, or figuring out a crossword puzzle. His greatest loves were his family, camping, hiking, fishing, and hunting, Anything outdoors! He was forever taking his family on hikes and adventures, usually close to home in the hills around Panaca, but sometimes traveling to National Parks and spending weeks camping on the road. He also loved reading good books, especially Louis L’Amour, and crossword and Sudoku puzzles. He could do the really hard ones!
You will always be in our hearts Grandpa! We will miss your jokes and your stories! And the way you would kick your feet when you laughed. Thinking about that laugh will always make us smile!! Rest in Peace!