ONEONTA - Donald Carey Axtell passed on Dec. 10, 2018, after a courageous battle with Parkinson's disease. Donald was born Oct. 29, 1933, in Cornwall, to William and Dorothy (Crouch) Axtell. He graduated from Waverly High School and then attended Duke University with a basketball scholarship. He played during the 1952-1953 season before being drafted into the Korean War and serving in the Army, where he entertained the troops playing basketball, baseball and football.
After his service, Don attended Ithaca College from 1957-1960 where he earned his bachelor's degree in Physical Education. He continued his master level's education at Hunter College.
Donald taught and coached at Lavonia High School, Clarkstown High School and Delhi Tech before arriving at Oneonta State in 1965. He was the head baseball coach and physical education professor for 30 years while serving as department chair for 3 years.
Never one to adhere to the 'everyone gets a trophy' philosophy, Coach demanded the best from his players on and off the field. You always knew you were speaking to an Oneonta baseball player because they were clean cut, polite, and prone to listening to what others had to say with respect. Although he bucked the trend of anything goes until the day he died, no one can argue with the results. Years of winning seasons and league championships testified to his effectiveness, however the fact that his players stayed in touch with him for a lifetime is the greatest testament to the kind of man he was.
During his retirement Donald loved playing golf, coaching neighborhood pickup games for his grandchildren and having family and friends visit him at his Hilton Head Island, South Carolina home.
Donald leaves behind his loving wife JoAnn; daughter, Jodi Ann; sons James and John; grandchildren Josh, Ben, Hannah, Megan, Morghen and Austin; great grandchildren Lilliana and Evelyn; brother and sister-in-law Laverne and Mary Lou Billings, and several nieces and nephews. Donald was predeceased by his parents and his sister, Beverly Reed.
A celebration of life will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on June 8, 2019, at First Presbyterian Church, 296 Main Street, Oneonta.
A burial will be held from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on June 9, 2019, at Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Pleasant Valley Road, Hammondsport.
In lieu of flowers, please donate either to the Parkinson's Foundation, 1359 Broadway Ste 1509 New York, NY 10018 or your local youth sports association.
Published on January 6, 2019