Donald Merle Whannel

Donald Merle Whannel, 83, passed away June 24.  Services will be held at Hamilton’s on Westown Parkway, 3601 Westown Parkway in West Des Moines, with the visitation was, June 29 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. and the funeral service was June 30 at 11:30 a.m.  Burial will be at Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter.

Don was born on December 31, 1930 in Waterloo, the son of Leonard and Kathryn Galt McCreath Whannel.  After living in the Waterloo area for a short while, the family moved to rural Traer, IA.  Don was the youngest child in the family along with two older sisters, Maxine and Marilyn.  His mother died in November 1937 when Don was age 7.  He was sent to live with his father’s sister, Florence Carlson, of rural northwest Boone.  She lovingly raised him along with her own family until his father reunited with his children and moved to Jefferson, when Don was in the 8th grade.  He graduated from Jefferson High School in 1949.  He then joined the National Guard and in September 1950 during the Korean War, joined the Air Force, and became part of the 86th fighter Wing in Landstuhl, Germany.  He served in the Air Police for 3-1/2 years.  Don returned to Jefferson in January of 1954.

In the spring of 1956, Don met his future wife, Helen Hutchins, a teacher in the Jefferson Schools.  They were married August 3, 1958 in the Jefferson Methodist Church. The couple lived in Jefferson for several years where Don worked as a lineman for the Greene County REC and Helen taught school.  In June 1973 they moved to West Des Moines. Don worked in the maintenance department of Iowa Methodist Hospital where he specialized in the fire alarm and sprinkler system for the entire complex; and Helen taught school in Urbandale.

Don is survived by his wife of 55 years, Helen; his children Kathy (Terry) Zoerb of Waynesville, OH and David Whannel of West Des Moines, IA; four grandchildren, Jon (Carly) Zoerb of Leesburg, VA, Terry Zoerb, Jr. of Xenia, OH, Nadia (Enoch) May of Fairborn, OH, and Michael Zoerb of Dayton, OH; four great-grandchildren, Madison and Parker Zoerb, and Aubrey and Nolan May; and his sister, Marilyn Wierson of Roland. Don was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Maxine Koumalats of Amarillo, TX.

Memorial contributions may be directed to the family. Condolences may be expressed online at

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