TBDBITL Alumni Club

The Best Damn Band In The Land - The Ohio State University Marching Band Alumni

Donald Ervin DeTray

November 9, 1917 - April 5, 2013

Donald Ervin DeTray passed away at the age of 95, of natural causes on Friday, April 5, 2013, at 5:00 am, at his home in Bay Shore Towers Hilo, Hawaii. He was born in Napoleon, Ohio on the 9th of November, 1917, the second child of Mabel Kuder and Dr. Ervin DeTray.

His older sister, Helen DeTray, is also deceased. His younger brother, Norman DeTray, continues to live in Napoleon. He left behind two sons, Dennis de Tray of Mclean, VA and Stephen DeTray of Tacoma, WA and their families; seven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Don received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Ohio State in 1946. At Ohio State he met his first wife, Erla Jean Esterly, of Letonia, Ohio. After receiving his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Don practiced with his father Ervin, also a veterinarian (as was Don's grandfather and great grandfather), until he moved to Burtonsville, MD and joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture at its Beltsville laboratories. Shortly thereafter, he and Jean moved to Mexico City where he worked on Mexico's rinderpest eradication program for a year. On return to Maryland, Don began what was to become his life's work as a vet: he went to Kenya in East Africa to work on African Swine Fever, an animal disease that African wart hogs and bush pigs carry with no harm to themselves, but which is highly infectious and fatal to domestic pigs. Don was to spend nearly eight years of his career looking for vaccines that would create immunities to ASF in domestic pigs under a joint USDA-British veterinary service program. For the first half dozen years he worked in Kabete, Kenya, near Nairobi, spending six months at a time in Kabete and leaving Jean and the two boys back in Maryland. In 1954, the entire family moved to Kabete and later to Muguga. Don and Jean's initial visit was programmed for six months but lasted seven years, the beginning of a lifetime connection with Africa. Don and the family returned to Maryland in 1961 to get Dennis and Stephen through school and enrolled in College. Once this was accomplished they headed back to Africa, this time to Lagos, Nigeria, then back to Kenya, and finally to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

Donald retired in 1973, moving to Medford, Oregon. Jean died in 1980 and in 1996 Don met and married Marian H. Shoemaker. Don spent the final two decades of his life with Marian in Hilo, Hawaii, looking out over Hilo Bay from his apartment in Bay Shore Towers and looked after by the most loving care givers on earth. Don lived the life he wanted to live and passed on as he would have wanted to - he went to sleep Thursday night in his own home and did not wake up Friday morning. As he requested, his ashes were scattered in his beloved Hilo Bay in a traditional Hawaiian canoe ceremony on Friday, April 12th.

Donald was a member of the marching band in 1935 and played trumpet.