Donald F. Valk
February 16, 1920 - February 1, 1991
Crystal Beach, Florida
Donald and wife Edna Gorski had 6 children. Surviving are Christine Heard, Neil Valk, Melinda Gleaton and Drew Valk. He was preceded in death by sons, Lyle and Alan.
Born in Eau Claire, WI, he was the oldest of ten children. Four brothers and two sisters survive him.
Don lived in Stanley WI until drafted in 1943 serving as a field medic SSGT with 363rd Field Artillery Unit, 96th Infantry Div. He was on the first wave of both Leyte and Okinawa invasions. He received a thank you letter from Pres. Harry Truman stating" for answering the call and being part of bringing the total defeat of the enemy. Because he demonstrated the fortitude, resourcefulness and calm judgment necessary to carry out that task, the nation now looked to him for leadership and an example in further exalting the country in peace," the letter read.
Don showed that same leadership throughout his life, always accepting the most severe and daring tasks and setting an example of service.
He came to Florida in 1956 with four small children and wife and most of his possessions. He settled in Pinellas County starting their real estate office in Clearwater and living in Largo and raising his family on their farm where they competed in rodeos, raced motorcycles and had many special events and before moving to Palm Harbor, leaving each community aware of the name, Don Valk and the results of his leadership.
Don moved to Palm Harbor in 1972 when it was a sleepy little area that had no more than 7200 residents and houses sold for $13,000. Dirt roads were common and orange groves still were important in this part of the county. He opened the first real estate office in the area. In less than five years Don and new wife Norma had started the Palm Harbor Art Show and the Teachers Breakfast. He put up money and space in his office to start the Chamber of Commerce. Norma had her real estate license and served as the first secretary for the Chamber, an unpaid position then. The Chamber grew quickly and he served as third president. He continued to be instrumental in the community working on the starting the Rotary Club and was a Paul Harris Fellow award recipient, started the Library, the Senior Community Center and assisted in the start of the YMCA. Also, he initiated many other community facilities which earned him the title of "MR. PALM HARBOR".
Don was an avid hunter and fisherman. He started his hunting career as a young lad providing rabbits for the family table. He enjoyed hunting big game, ducks and geese in Canada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Georgia and Florida and he brought home many trophies.
Following Norma's death Don moved closer to his son Neil and settled down to a much simpler life in Crystal Beach. Here he helped in fund raising activities and earned the honorary title of Crystal Beach Mayor.
Don leaves behind 4 children, 7 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.