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Donald Schell
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Obituary for Donald Schell

Donald M. (Don) Schell lost a brief battle with pancreatic cancer and passed away peacefully with family in his Sacramento, CA home on June 1, 2018, at the age of 83.
Don was born in Bowdle, SD on August 8, 1934 to Fred and Lydia (Nusz) Schell. He was the youngest of 7 children and lived on the family farm in Selby, SD until the family moved to Woodland, CA in 1943, where he grew up, graduating from Woodland High School in 1952. He attended San Jose State University for 2 years before enlisting in the US Air force. It was while stationed in Denver, CO with the Air Force, that he met Winifred “Winnie” Lyons (from Pine Bluffs, WY) on a blind date. Don and Winnie were married 4 months later, on October 5, 1956. Not long after they were married, Don got out of the Air Force and they settled to Sacramento, where he attended Sacramento State University, earning Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, which lead to his 27-year career with the IRS. He earned his CPA license in 1977. After retiring in 1989, Don and Winnie traveled the US and Canada in their 5th wheel trailer, hitting most of the 50 states. Don and Winnie had been married just shy of 39 years when Winnie passed away in August 1995. Don met Norene Cooke through a mutual friend (Norene had lost her husband a few years earlier) and they were married on April 18, 1998 and have resided in Norene’s Greenhaven home since. Until most recently, Don and Norene also traveled a good deal, to include monthly trips with the Gold Paners Camping Club and short stays in Paradise, CA, where Don had a vacation home.
Don has been a member of St Luke’s Lutheran Church since the 1950s, serving in just about every capacity from Sunday School Teacher to Church Council. His love of music and strong voice led him to be invited to join the church choir, where he sang for many years. He has been an active Freemason for 60 years, receiving the Hiram Award from his Lodge in 2008. He was a DeMolay Advisor for 10 years, earning the Cross of Honor for his service. He volunteered many years at the downtown Lutheran Social Services Thrift Store. He was a regular blood donor, giving 15 gallons of blood to the Sacramento Blood Bank over his lifetime. One of Don’s passions has been the research of the Schell and Nusz family’s genealogy and their “Germans from Russia” heritage. He has been an active member of the Germans from Russian Historical Society (GRHS) and American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR) for over 20 years, holding many leadership rolls. Don most recently, served as the President of the Nor Cal Chapter of GRHS.
Don will be lovingly remembered by his wife Norene Cooke Schell; his son Michael (Maria) Schell of Sacramento; daughters Denise Turner of Charleston, SC and Heidi (Bob) Harrison of Rocklin; stepsons Donald (Sandy) Cooke Jr and Tim Cooke; granddaughters Danielle (Tim) Rudolph, KristyAmber Turner, Kimberly (Sam) Hudson and Mackenzie Harrison; and grandsons Brandon Turner, Kyle (Landa) Turner, Robert Harrison and Andrew Harrison; and great-grandchildren Austin, Alexander, Jack, Kate and Ethan; his older brother Edgar (Coleen) Schell; sister-in-law Alberta (Cooper) Schell; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his first wife Winifred “Winnie” (Lyons) Schell; stepson Michael Cooke; son-in-law Bruce Turner; parents Fred and Lydia (Nusz) Schell; Sisters Loraine (Bill) Nathan, Glendora (Tom) Goulding, Eileen (Tom) Rose and Alice (Veril) Gordon; and brother Alvin Schell.
At Don’s request he was cremated, and his ashes will be interred in the common plot with Winnie Schell at East Lawn South (Elk Grove) in a small private ceremony. His Memorial Service and Celebration of Life will be held at St Luke’s Lutheran Church (7595 Center Parkway, Sacramento) on Thursday July 5. 2018 at 11:30 am, followed by a luncheon in Schultz Hall prepared by the ladies of the church.
The family would like to thank the nurses and staff of the Sutter Hospice System for all their love and support as we cared for Don at home the last couple of months. The help and guidance they provided was integral to Don’s comfort.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Donald’s name to either St Luke’s Lutheran Church (www.slelca.org) or the Sacramento Stand Down Association (www.SacramentoStandDown.org).


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