Monday, February 02, 2009

A Tribute to Don Praisner

By Rocky Lopes.

Don Praisner always said, “I'm not a politician” followed closely with, “but I have some ideas.” Don shared a vision of pragmatism and being fiscally conservative with his beloved wife, Marilyn. He also was keenly aware of the concerns that many in District 4 shared about the county Growth Policy as led by Marilyn during her term as Council President in 2007. He listened to many of us about matters related to development and pressures on infrastructure. He regarded our concerns seriously, and voiced them appropriately where it mattered.

Those of us who befriended Don really grew to like him. He was always gentle, thoughtful, and caring. He was easy to talk to, and would listen to your concerns with rapt attention, as if you were the only one in the room, despite the fact that often times that room was filled with many others.

I couldn't help but smile when I got him on my Harley for a photo op at his July '08 party that he organized to thank his legion of volunteers. Don had the biggest grin on his face. I think if he weren't otherwise occupied, he would have settled back on the passenger seat and gone for a ride with me that day. Don said that the party wasn't to be a celebration for his special election win, but rather to give thanks to everyone who worked hard to get him elected, and to help him carry through the vision we shared and to protect Marilyn's legacy of leadership, integrity, and independence. Don was always thinking about others, never himself.

A quiet, humble man, Don worked hard at whatever he did with a firm and respectable work ethic. I didn't know him as well as I knew his wife, Marilyn, who I had known for some 29 years. But when I dropped by their home, or when I was working on one of Marilyn's campaigns, Don was always there, organizing things. And you could always see how he loved and cared for his loving wife, children, and grandchildren. You truly felt the sense of “family” every time you were around Don. He would just glow when his grandchildren asked “Pop-Pop” a question.

As I grew to know him better during his special election campaign and after he took his seat on the County Council, my respect and admiration grew even deeper. Don was a very special man, who served our country, our state, and our county with distinction and honor.

His service on our County Council, though brief, brought stability and meaning to District 4. His sense of humor and calm reserve helped the Council deal with some tough issues from his first Council session to the last, and also during committee meetings.

Those of us who had the opportunity to get to know Don and his family cherish the time we spent with him and appreciate the chance to help him carry out his vision, explore ideas, and continue the work he had planned.

What a sad loss for District 4, and for our county as a whole. But more importantly, the Praisner family. Our warmest and most heart-felt prayers are extended to them.

Details about the celebration Don's life and arrangements to pay respects can be found on his website, one of my last duties as his “Loyal Webmaster.”

Editor's Note: Rocky Lopes is the President of the Layhill Alliance and is a long-time civic activist in District 4.