Donald J. Engels

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Donald Joseph Engels, 77, formerly of Mendota, passed away June 11, 2018 in Phoenix, Ariz. 

Cremation rites have been accorded. Visitation will be from 9 to 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 21 at the Schwarz Funeral Home in Mendota. Services will follow at the funeral home with Rev. Kim Lee-Brown officiating. Burial will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, Mendota with full military rites provided by Mendota VFW Post 4079.

Don was born Sept. 17, 1940 in LaSalle to Joseph W. and Elizabeth C. (Schmitt) Engels. He married Carol M. Schmidt on Sept. 17, 1966 in Peterstown. She preceded him in death in 1982. He married Marcia A. (Thorson) Gass of Streator in 1985.

Survivors include his wife, Marcia Engels of Arizona; one daughter, Lori (Randy) Grinka; one son, Tim (Lisa Avery) Engels; three stepchildren, Shayne, Matt and Alicia Gass; one sister, RuthAnn (Ronald) Montavon; and one grandson, Zachary Grinka.

He was preceded in death by his first wife and his parents.

Don graduated from Mendota High School in 1958 and was a veteran of the U.S. Army. He was a lifelong farmer whose greatest passion was working the fields. He would hop on his motorcycle to check his crops and dutifully listened to Tom Skilling and the local weather forecast. Throughout the years, he also was a seed salesman working for both DeKalb and Beck’s.

He was an avid sportsman - boater, water skier and fisherman - who loved the outdoors. He enjoyed his winter months in Sarasota, Fla. where every Tuesday and Thursday would find him playing multiple softball games with friends. Siesta Key Beach was his #1 favorite place for relaxing and then there were also many trips which took him near and far around the world. He could often be seen enjoying fried chicken in the Mendota area or having coffee at Ziggies. His many discussions with local farmers fed his appetite to be successful in his endeavors. Don always challenged himself to do better. 

Memorials may be directed to Alzheimer’s Disease Research.

Condolences may be left at


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