Donald G. Bleth

August 10, 1932 ~ August 31, 2013

Donald G. Bleth, 81, passed away peacefully on August 31, 2013 in Vancouver, WA. A native of Vancouver, Don was the son of John "Barney" and Mildred Bleth and was born August 10, 1932. After graduating from Vancouver High, he enlisted in the Navy and played clarinet and saxophone in a Navy band while stationed in Japan during the Korean War. Upon discharge, he returned to Vancouver, attended Clark College and the University of Portland, earning Bachelor's and Master's degrees. He met his wife, Jody Buono, while they were performing in the orchestra for the musical "Kiss Me Kate." They were married at St. James Catholic Church in Vancouver on June 11, 1955.
Don's first careers were as a big band saxophone and clarinet player, and public school music teacher and choir director. He taught in Gervais, Vancouver, Lake Oswego, and Evergreen schools. After his teaching career, he joined Jody in her family's business, Vancouver Travel. They retired in 1996. He was a past president of his Lions club and of the greater Portland chapter of SKAL, an international organization of travel professionals.
Family and dogs were a big part of Don's life. His remaining adopted Greyhound dog predeceased him by 6 days and his last living dog is now being cared for by his children. He was well-loved by family, friends, neighbors, former colleagues and students, and of course all of his dogs and his children's dogs. As people who knew him have said, he was a true gentleman, and such a good guy. He volunteered many hours over the years helping charitable organizations in fundraising and community events.
Don enjoyed classic British sports cars, participating in rallyes and showing his MGA and Jaguar cars. As a professional musician, Don performed for many years with numerous big bands and other ensembles. He and his wife supported the arts and also attended many classical music concerts including ones their children performed in. Another pastime was taking care of his beautiful yard. He picked up and recycled countless bags of leaves every autumn. He was fortunate to have traveled to many interesting destinations, including many trips with his wife. Places which he often shared memories of included Petra, Jordan, Israel, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, China, Japan, New England, and New York.
Don is greatly missed and survived by his children, Chris (Jacquie) of Burbank, CA, Jennifer (Celeste) of Murrieta, CA, Michelle (Jesse) of Battle Ground, WA and Lynelle (Jim) of Vancouver; his grandson, Justin of Seattle, WA; brother-in-law, Michael Buono (Heather) of Maui, HI; nieces and nephews; and his dog and granddogs.
His wife, Jody, his parents, and his sister, Marjorie Bisenius, predeceased him.
A gathering of family and friends will be held at a later date in his honor.
Please sign his Guest Book at

Published in The Columbian on Oct. 11, 2013