Donald “Don” Stack, 83, died Nov. 9, 2021, at his home, surrounded by his wife and children, after several years of struggle with COPD.
He was born Feb. 8, 1938, in a farmhouse outside Kearney, Nebraska, to John and Ethel Stack.
The seventh of eight sons, he worked from an early age to help support his family. While still a youngster, the family moved to Denver, and he delivered newspapers until he was old enough to drive. When he got his license, he drove a bread truck, and after his father died, he dropped out of school to support his mother and younger brother.
Although he preferred working and earning money as opposed to academics, he always regretted his lack of a high school diploma and in 2019, at age 81, completed his GED.
Mr. Stack was a lifelong fitness enthusiast, and as a young man he built a home gym and regularly “pumped iron.” In 1955 at age 17, he won the junior division of the Mr. Colorado bodybuilding contest.
In 1957 he married Sherry Harned, and by age 28 had five sons and a daughter.
To support his large family, he started his own paint contracting business, and for several decades he traveled throughout the western U.S., painting gas stations, fuel depots, commercial buildings, bridges, marinas and tall smokestacks.
His family said his reputation as a reliable, prompt and conscientious contractor ensured that his business was lucrative and successful. All of his children at one time or another joined in the effort, spending summers traveling from town to town, working from sunrise to sundown, transforming dingy, peeling structures to shiny colorful monuments.
In 1966, he moved his growing family to Palisade and eventually paid cash for an old laundromat on West Fourth Street. Over the next several years, he transformed it into a four-bedroom house, teaching his kids all about carpentry, plumbing, wiring and landscaping.
Mr. Stack loved to travel around the West and often combined business trips with family vacations, going to Glacier National Park, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Las Vegas, Devil’s Tower and hundreds of lesser known locations in dozens of states.
He also traveled to Mexico numerous times, Hawaii and Costa Rica and drove to Alaska and back one summer.
He and Sherry separated amicably in 1987, and in 2001 he married Gigi, who was his companion for the next 20 years. She worked at his side on painting jobs for many years, including a couple of seasons painting bridges throughout Colorado.
The couple drove to Alaska and back one summer and then spent several weeks in Hawaii visiting their good friend Pat McConnell, whom Mr. Stack met when he was 10 years old and was also at his side when he died.
Mr. Stack was preceded in death by his son Rory.
Survivors include his wife; children, Nicki Johnson of Grand Junction, Vince Stack of Salida, Don Stack Jr. of Poncha Springs, Paul Stack of Flagstaff, Arizona, Andrew Stack of Grand Junction, Tom Ready of Florissant and Tonia Barber of Fruita; 17 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; and many friends and acquaintances.
A service is being planned. Arrangements are with Palisade Funeral Home in Palisade.