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With profound sadness, we announce the passing of Donald Bahr, our loving and devoted husband, father, Grampa, and brother. He left us unexpectedly on April 9th 2023. He was 75 years old.
Don was a servant his whole life. He served his God in his everyday life through his actions and his example of a life well lived; he was a man of character and substance whose foremost desire was to do the right thing in every circumstance. He served his country beginning in 1966 when he enlisted in the United States Air Force and served for 32 years. From then until his retirement as Colonel and the Vice Commander of the 440th Air Wing out of Milwaukee, WI, in 2007, Don served in a variety of capacities. His selfless service stood as the example for countless other officers and enlisted service members. He was truly the icon of the professional officer and service member. He began as a Command Post Tech at McGuire AFB in New Jersey followed by Weapons Controller for the 128th Tactical Control Squadron. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Admin. from Viterbo University in 1983, completed Air War College in 1999, and obtained his Masters in Business Admin. in Military Management in 2001. He was Deputy Commander and Combat Support Director at Moron AB in Spain and was deployed for Operation Northern Watch and Enduring Freedom. During his transition from active service to reserve, Don served as an Air Traffic Controller at the LaCrosse airport for several years, again serving the public and keeping other people safe and secure through his selfless and sacrificial service. Don was a son, husband, father, mentor, counselor, friend, and confidant. To many, he was several of these.
Along with his very distinguished military career, Don loved many things in his life. His family was his heart's joy. He married Debra Kammel on July 21, 1984 at St. Joseph Ridge Catholic Church.
He was proud of his four children, and loved to spoil his eight grandchildren. He enjoyed family vacations, and tried to travel as much as he could. He loved fishing and boating in the river, playing golf, and having lively debates about subjects he felt passionate about. He was dearly loved by his family and friends, and will be very missed by all who knew him. His infectious sense of humor left a mark with everyone he met.
Don knew well the difference between all things serious and all things trivial. He would often be heard to say, "This is a goat rope!" When those around him were wound tighter than a drum on an insignificant matter, he would levy the mood and tone through his colloquial banter. Those who knew him, loved him as their own and he loved all as his own. Where there was a need, there was Don providing relief, often at his own expense. He loved his people and his people loved him. Even during his recreational activities, he'd be the source of comic relief. Just last August, during a fishing trip in North Dakota, the weather was proving a challenge raising the waves on Devil's Lake to breathtaking proportions. While all were concerned, Don quipped, I've lived 74 years and I'm gonna die in the middle of a lake in North Dakota...that sucks!" Comic relief was his specialty.
Survivors include his wife, Debra; 3 sons, Scott (Stefanie) Bahr, Christopher Bahr, and Nilo (Cecilia) Duarte; a daughter, Tammy (Daniel Pertile); 8 grandchildren, Kayla, Arianna and Christina Bahr, Taylor, Jordan and Camryn Pertile and Catarina and Nicole Duarte, 2 sisters, Judy Gagnon, and Jeanie Bahr; 2 brothers, Chris (Dione) and Jeffrey Bahr and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Laverne and George Bahr; 2 sisters, Diane Karl and Deborah Felde; a brother-in-law, Gary Gagnon and a nephew, Travis Gagnon, and a niece Tina Stanul.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 6 p.m. Friday April 14, 2023 at the Roncolli Newman Catholic Parish, 1732 State Street in La Crosse. A visitation will be held at the church on Friday April 14 from 3 to 6 p.m. Burial with military honors will be in the St. Joseph Ridge Catholic Cemetery on Saturday April 15, 9:30 a.m. The Seland Funeral Home is assisting the family. The family would like to thank Rev. Billy Dodge and all family and friends who have helped us through this difficult time.