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Obituary: Donald F. Vieweg

Published in The Boston Globe Jan. 24, 2018

Donald F. Vieweg, Jr.
June 23, 1957 – January 23, 2018

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.”
–“Nature Boy,” Eden Ahbez

Don was born on June 23, 1957 in Conimicut, Rhode Island and died at home in Arlington, Massachusetts on January 23, 2018, surrounded by the support and witness of his beloved family and friends. He was the loving and supportive husband and partner in all things to Dana Cooperson; the engaged and proud father of beautiful and smart daughters Jillian of Providence, RI and of Dorothy, and Lilah of Arlington; surrogate father to honorary fourth daughter Shoshana Zuckerman of Cambridge, MA; the beloved brother of Judy of Warwick, RI and Shirley (deceased); and the proud son of Dorothy (Smith) and Donald Sr. (deceased).

He was diagnosed on April 14, 2015 with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and lived with grace, generosity, humor, and a fierce love of the large community who supported him as he slowly lost one ability after another. ALS robbed Don of so many of his passions: he was a lifelong runner and “gym rat” who became unable to walk, stand, breathe on his own; an “audio geek”, music aficionado, music player (accordion, harmonica, melodica), sound man, and renowned restorer of classic Fisher tube amps who lost his manual dexterity; a “technical communicator” (writer and trainer) at Alcatel-Lucent and other high-tech firms, an amateur haiku master, and an enthusiastic Shawnee Road gossip (“Mr. Picket Fence”) who used his eyes and his right thumb to painstakingly communicate with a text-to-talk app.

Through his slow parade of losses Don maintained his positive spirit and his ability to inspire those around him to be our human best. In the words of one long-time friend, Don “had the biggest shoulders in the world and was never too busy to talk or give advice and a hug.” His specialty, as the father of three girls and the loving brother of two sisters, was giving advice and support to other girls’ parents. He was a sensitive and philosophical thinker; a compassionate, encouraging, and generous friend; and a supportive and understanding partner to his spouse of 20 years. He affected those he knew very positively and deeply, vowing to be someone who people were always glad to see coming and sad to see leaving.

Anyone who wishes to make a donation in Don’s memory is encouraged to support Compassionate Care ALS (https://ccals.org/), which provided invaluable support to Don and our whole family. We thank our community, our dedicated aide David Semambo, and our Seasons Hospice team (Nicole, Norma, Tim, and Liz) for such kind attention and care.

Don’s friends and family will hold a memorial service at First Parish Unitarian Church, 630 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA at 2:00 on Saturday January 27.

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