May 25, 1938 — March 9, 2019
Donald W. Reeser, 80, of Makawao, Maui, passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by family, on March 9, 2019.
He was born on May 25, 1938 in Albany, Oregon, to Walter Reeser and Irene (Nance) Reeser.
Don graduated from Albany Union High School, class of 1956. He received his degree in Forestry from Oregon State University, home of his beloved Beavers. After college, he served in the National Guard.
Don spent his 44-year career with the National Park Service, stationed at Glacier, Grand Canyon, Muir Woods, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes, Redwood and Haleakalā National Parks. He served as Superintendent of Haleakalā National Park for 17 years before retiring in 2005. His list of accomplishments included his innovative use of fencing, which completely rid Hawaiʻi Volcanoes and Haleakalā Crater of feral goats and pigs, allowing the silversword and other native species to thrive. Under his leadership, the park obtained Kaʻapahu watershed, home to virgin koa forests and native bird populations. He partnered with helicopter companies to forge a plan to alter flying routes to preserve the serene environment of the crater; similar plans have since been adopted by national parks throughout the nation. He left a legacy of community involvement and volunteerism to preserve Hawaiʻi’s natural and cultural resources by leading the charge to keep invasive species out of Hawaiʻi. Don made such an impact on Maui that he was named one of Maui County’s “Top 100 Citizens” of the past century.
When Don wasn’t working, he was busy with numerous interests, including wood-working, photography, filmmaking, beekeeping, wine and beer crafting, coffee production, pie baking, all while tending to his two-acre farm, “Piʻiholo Hale.” His photography during his tenure at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes is featured in many posters and books still in publication today. He was a true Renaissance Man, from building his wife’s dream home from the ground up on the Big Island, to “living off the land” on Maui, as Don would say.
Don was active in many organizations, including Rotary Club of Maui, Friends of Haleakalā National Park, Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, Maui Historical Society and the Sierra Club.
He was a kind and gentle man who loved his family. His easy-going nature and unforgettable sense of humor drew people to him from all walks of life. He was truly the greatest example of how one should live their life.
Don joins his parents and wife of over 45 years, Henrietta “Bunnie” Reeser, who predeceased him.
He is survived by his sister, Beverley Griffiths of London, England; his daughter, Cheryl Kuʻulei Reeser of Makawao, Maui; and son, Bryan Reeser (Sue) of McKinleyville, California. He also leaves behind grandchildren, Brook, Joel and Jake Reeser, as well as brother-in-law, Arthur Weber, nephew Shawn, and niece Kimberlee, of Kailua-Kona, Hawaiʻi. In addition, he is survived by his loving companion for the past ten years, Diane Price of Albany.
A celebration of Don’s life will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests monetary donations are made in his honor to the following organizations that he deeply supported: Friends of Haleakalā National Park (https://fhnp.org/FoH/FoH_membership.php) or Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa (http://www.kalaupapaohana.org/support.html). Condolences may be sent to Borthwick Norman’s Mortuary, 105 Waiʻale Road, Wailuku, HI 96793.