American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Donald MacPherson Wallace Jr., 1934 – 2018

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year: 2018
  • Publication Year: 2019

Donald MacPherson Wallace Jr., of Northfield, Vermont, passed away on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, after a short illness. His daughters Beth and Meg and his longtime companion, Mary Bellinzier, were with him until the end. He was an extraordinarily dedicated professor, a committed mountaineer, a staunch environmentalist, and an avid gardener; he had a strong belief in giving back to his community, and firm opinions on most subjects.

Don Wallace was born on June 24, 1934, in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, to Donald MacPherson Wallace I and Edwina (Pomeroy) Wallace. He was the elder of two brothers and was predeceased by his brother, Edwin (1936-2009). Don enlisted as a medic in the Army in 1954 during the Korean conflict. Discharged in 1956, he enrolled in the University of Vermont and graduated with a B.S.M.E. in 1960. Don completed his M.S. at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (1962).

Starting in 1962, he taught at Norwich University in Northfield, beginning a 55-year career interrupted only by his doctoral studies (EngScD, Columbia University, 1968). With his signature pipe, moustache, and glasses, he was a familiar and formidable figure to generations of students until his retirement in 2017 at age 83.

Don's lifelong passion for mountaineering began on hiking trips with his aunt and uncle Lillian and Russell Lodge, members of the New Jersey section of the Green Mountain Club. With his aunt, Gladys Anderson, he climbed his first of the Northeast 111, Big Slide Mountain in the Catskills in 1946. Always a completist, he was the fourth person to hike all 115 mountains on the list (including 67 New England peaks over 4,000 feet, the 46 Adirondack High Peaks, and two other New York mountains), finishing in 1964. Don also climbed all the Colorado 14ers from 1972 to 1988 and hiked Vermont's Long Trail end-to-end. In 1980, he became the fourth person to climb the high points of all 50 U.S. states, including Denali.

Don supported the Northfield community in many ways over his 55-plus years in town. He was an EMT on the Northfield Ambulance Squad from 1975–2001, and represented Northfield to the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District from 1986–2001, during which time he helped to start Northfield's waste reduction effort, got Northfield's Transfer Station built, and headed up Northfield's Green-Up Day efforts. He was on the Select Board from 1999 to 2008.

In the UVM Outing Club, Don met Marlene Bryant and they married in June 1960. They had two daughters Elizabeth (1961) and Margaret (1963). The young family spent most weekends camping in their VW bus in order to hike and climb, often at the Shawangunks in New York. The couple divorced in 1973. In 1987, he met Mary Bellinzier at a Norwich dinner-dance. They shared a life and a home for 31 years, hiking and climbing in New England and around the country and listening to many Bluegrass Gospel Project concerts. Don and Mary skied Vermont's Catamount Trail together, finishing in 1995. Don was a beloved father and a cherished partner. He is sorely missed.

Don is survived by his daughters Beth Wallace (Colleen Boyce) and Meg Wallace; his nieces Eileen Wallace Bradley (Bruce) and Karen Wallace-Pisano; his longtime companion, Mary Bellinzier; and countless students, colleagues, friends, and neighbors.

This tribute originally was published by Norwich University.

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