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5 years 4 months
Submitted by bryan on Thu, 06/15/2023 - 11:50:AM

Maj (Ret’d) Don MacNeil passed away at 68 years of age after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He was a man fully dedicated to an impressive military career of 35 years that took him to many countries. He relished the challenges his career offered and always appreciated the honour of serving alongside soldiers from Canada and other countries. He was also glad for the opportunities and adventures military life presented his family.

Left to mourn are his loyal and loving wife Eliza (nee Karoulla), stepdaughter Joanne Mulholland (Julien) and granddaughter Georghia, stepson George, sister Yvonne, brothers Glenn (Michelle) and Brian and close family friend Carole Travis as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews. Predeceased by his father Warrant Officer 2 Earle MacNeil, mother Margaret (nee Aylward) and brother Patrick (“Paddy”).

Born in St. John’s NL, Don attended Brother Rice High School and Memorial University of Newfoundland. Following a proud military tradition, he served from an early age as an Army Cadet throughout high school and commanded 2515 St. John’s Army Cadet Corps in his final year. As a bilingual Armour (tank) officer, Don remained a loyal officer of his Regiment, the 12e Régiment blindé du Canada, and wore its cap badge for his entire career. He commanded troops in operational missions inside and outside Canada, served in Germany, taught tank gunnery at the Royal Canadian Armour School, and served as a very effective staff officer in a number of positions. Always proud of being a Newfoundlander, Don was especially happy to return to his home province and serve at the NL Militia District HQ as Chief of Staff.

In 1994, Don was deployed to Rwanda with the United Nations where his valiant conduct, devotion to duty and distinguished service saved hundreds of lives and earned him a Mention in Dispatches award from the Queen of Canada. His other awards include the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the UN medal for service in Cyprus and the Canadian Forces Decoration for his 35 years of faithful service to Canada. His operational service was also recognized by the Canadian War Museum where some of his artifacts are on permanent display and in the Museum’s research library.

After removing the uniform, Don was employed as an operational planner at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto. He served as a focal point for his fellow Rwanda Veterans and organized several reunions with their former Commander, Lieutenant – General Roméo Dallaire.

Don was loved by many and touched all he came in contact with. His generosity of spirit, positive attitude, constant good humour, ability to cut through nonsense and jolly and friendly demeanour were legendary. He will be greatly missed by all.

Special thanks to the staff at Northumberland Hills Hospital Cancer and Supportive Care Clinic. Flowers are welcome and donations can be made to Northumberland Hills Hospital Cancer and Supportive Care Clinic in Don’s memory.

Friends and family are invited to a funeral service on Thursday, June 22 at 1pm in the Sacred Space of Beechwood Funeral, Cemetery and Cremation Services, 280 Beechwood Ave. Ottawa, ON. Burial will follow in the National Military Cemetery at Beechwood at 2pm. The family invites guests to join them for a reception in the Beechwood National Memorial Centre following the burial.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/15/2023 - 05:14:PM

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Pauline Mustaikis and Harry Liberge

Our deepest condolences to the family. Our love and thoughts are with you in this difficult time . Xo

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/15/2023 - 05:34:PM

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Carole Travis

Don was like family to me ,and a true Hero .
I will miss him so vey much.
R.I.P brother

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/15/2023 - 05:46:PM

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Steve and Eva Hayes

Our condolences to the MacNeil family. RIP Don.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/15/2023 - 05:51:PM

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J. Ryszard Sulik

Fond memories of serving together. Rest in peace Don. ADSUM

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/15/2023 - 08:41:PM

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Paddy Crowley

What a great man and solider. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. God bless

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/15/2023 - 10:26:PM

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Karmin McKay

A good friend, always ready for a laugh and a great officer. Rest in Peace

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/16/2023 - 07:43:AM

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Bob Scott

I met Don the first day of Basic officer training in Chilliwack and became fast friends. One of my favorite people he was a good friend and a great officer. Sincere condolences to his family. RIP Donnie.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/16/2023 - 08:23:AM

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Jay Ballard

I met Don at the Canadian Forces College. He was a true gentleman and friend. I didn’t know about all of the people he saved in Rwanda until his departure with dignity ceremony. The stories were incredible. Don was a true patriot and great person!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/16/2023 - 09:06:AM

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Hugh Egener

I served with Don with the RCD in 1984-1985 and remember fondly his total effort, support and especially his sense of humour in performing all our tasks. Canadians should all know how well he served his Regiment and country while in Rwanda. My sympathies are with Eliza and family.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/16/2023 - 09:12:AM

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Georges Vanasse (Maj Ret'd)

I've known Donnie for many years. One of the most honest and forthwith person I have ever met. Don was a most able debater, and so, we had spirited discussions on mundane and wildly esoteric subjects. Spirited enough, that Eliza would routinely throw us out of the house with a pointed "Aren't you supposed to go out to lunch?". Knowing what's best for us both, we beat a hasty retreat to Don's choice of restaurant. Le restaurant où Don se livrait à des écarts spectaculaires de son régime alimentaire. Cheerfully so I might add!
Don was famous for his anecdotes. From side splitting hilarious, to unbearably sad, spanning the rich range of human emotions, of human and inhuman behaviour, all impeccably remembered, undiluted, absent of judgement, Don was a fine raconteur, a keeper of history, a truth teller, no matter how ugly it might be.
Mari, père, grand-père, frère, officier du 12ième RBC, ami, frère régimentaire, au service du Canada et de l’humanité, Don laisse un grand vide dans la vie de tous.
I am sure there will be a great many anecdotes about Don. Here’s my favourite. Some years ago, Don suggested that we might be able to help a common friend who was stricken with ALS. Long story short, we took Christian out to see movies. He was equipped with a van that would accommodate his electric chair. We nicknamed it the ‘demon chair’ because it had a mind of its own. One day, at the conclusion of the movie, I was helping him manoeuvre the chair into the van, when the chair decided to take a hard right on the ramp. I stopped it and was able to prevent it from toppling over. However, I could not reach the kill switch. A number of people stood there and watched and did nothing to help. Guess who shot out of the front seat to rush over and help? Yup. The man with half a functioning heart, bad lungs, artificial legs and needing a cane was the one who saved the day. He put his shoulder to the chair. Because, that is the kind of man Don was.
In facing death, Donnie taught us how to live. A life well lived. Farewell old friend.

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