Donell Young • February 21, 2021

Don Young was born on December 10th, 1932 in Toxey, Alabama (Choctaw County) to John Franklin Young and Alice (Jacobs) Young. Don is survived by his wife Betty (Laird) Young, two sons Michael Donell Young and Alan John Young (Teri), and two grandchildren Alex Michael Young and Emily Ann Warr (Jimmy).

Don grew up in Toxey along with his brothers and sisters: Basil, Roger, Frank (Dank), Juanita (Nita), Bonnie, and Kitty Lou. In 1950, Don graduated from Southern Choctaw High School in Silas, Alabama.

Not long after graduation, Don joined the US Navy for 3 and 1/2 years of service and was honorably discharged in 1953. Don returned to Toxey, Alabama just as word made it around in the Toxey area that a new company in Pensacola was hiring. Don drove down to Pensacola with a local buddy to sign up for a position at a new manufacturing plant called Chemstrand (later known as Monsanto). Luck was on their side.

Fortunately for many members of his family, Don’s job at Chemstrand would be the start of a wonderful life with his future bride, Betty (Laird) Young. Don and Betty were married on March 23, 1957 and just last year in 2020 celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary.

Don retired from Monsanto after 32 years of service at the age of 52.

In retirement, Don enjoyed traveling with Betty to many of the wonderful national and state parks throughout our great nation enjoying all the beauty nature offers. For many years, when not busy volunteering in the Keenagers seniors group and attending Myrtle Grove Baptist Church, Don and Betty volunteered with the Red Cross. They assisted many people after several tropical storms and hurricanes devastated the gulf coast area from Texas to Florida.

Don was an avid reader of mysteries, detective stories and western stories. He carried with him a list of old books that he would look for during his travels. He loved to visit secondhand bookstores in search of these stories by some of his favorite authors.

Many family members and friends will remember Don as a fisherman, especially as a pompano fisherman. Over the years, Don fished many rivers and streams in Alabama (Turkey Creek and Tombigbee River) for a variety of fish including bream and catfish. After Don moved to Florida, the fishing and outdoor water sports continued out in the great Gulf of Mexico. Over the years through many boats, water skies, rods and reels, fishing lures and bait, Don enjoyed what Mother Nature can provide to all of us: adventure, discovery, worthwhile challenges and a calming sense of renewal and recharge for our bodies. Over the past 25 years Don focused mostly on pompano fishing on the beach out at the Fort Pickens park area of the National Seashore. Don’s basic directions were, “drive over to Pensacola Beach, turn right and go til you run out of land, just about.” Many an early morning before sunrise, and occasionally again in the afternoon for sunset, Don had his fishing poles baited and, in the water, awaiting a great tug from a pompano. And the results paid off over and over throughout the years with his family and friends reaping the benefits of eating a delicious fish cooked in various recipes. Don came across a recipe many years ago that has become a favorite of many: Pecan Encrusted Pompano, seared lightly in a pan and then finished with a little baking in the oven. Delicious! It is hard not to hear the word pompano or see a picture of one and not immediately think of Don. Over the years Don and Betty have hosted friends and family with short visits in Pensacola, and a highlight has always been an outing surf fishing for pompano near Ft. Pickens. Don created his own sand flea rake to dig along the shore and come up with a pompano’s favorite snack. His best bait advice ever, “just place a couple of medium size sand fleas on your hook with a sinker and cast out.” Don would do all the hard work of collecting bait and rigging the rods and reels and would always selflessly allow family and friends to run over and reel in a mighty fighting pompano. Don has excited many of us with this experience over the years, and we are blessed to have been a part of such a wonderful loving example of how some of the most important times that we all spend on earth are just simple little moments standing around on a beautiful beach with loved ones, or even newly made friends, enjoying the sun and the sounds of the waves hitting the shore along with seagulls, pelicans, herons and osprey flying overhead…to be suddenly jolted by the words “you got one, go git it” and then a quick sprint to the pole to reel another one in and enjoy the rush and feeling of it all! Don always carried a five-gallon bucket with him to carry all his fishing gear and numerous poles and walked over several sand dunes to make the trip from truck to shore. Many a family member or friend has the memory of struggling to keep up the pace as he, and his bride Betty, briskly walked across the soft sand. This usually resulted in many visitors catching up to him at the shore after a few minutes of struggled footsteps in the sand and much heavy breathing. Don kept in shape throughout his life and set a great example for all to follow.

Over the past two years, Don experienced some health challenges with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Don kept his wit and spirit until the end and was so fortunate to have a loving wife and eldest son assisting with his various health requirements. As a result of his active lifestyle, Don was very fortunate to spend little time in a hospital over his lifetime. He always said, “you have to keep moving.” To the end, Don was able to live at home with Betty and Mike returning to him his lifetime of love through their loving care for him night and day. Don was 88 when he passed away on Sunday February 21, 2021 with Betty by his side.

For the many of us that were oh so fortunate to have had some experiences with Don, we can all rest comforted knowing in our hearts what special attention and guidance along with love and caring that we have all received through our relationships with Don.

Private family services were held Friday, February 26, 2021

  1. Alan Young says:

    *I am so proud to call Don my father! I have so many fond memories of his loving guidance.

  2. Elizabeth Craft says:

    “Pensacola Beach, turn right and go til you run out of land, just about.” Still one of the best places in the world. Uncle Don was a prime example of what a father & a man should strive to be. Will miss him dearly, & love him always.

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