Donald E. McCrea, 77 years of age, of Ellis, passed away Thursday, May 11, 2017 at the VA Medical Center in Omaha. He was born on July 29, 1939 in Beatrice to Max and Helen (Bear) McCrea. In his youth, Don was an agricultural employee involved in FFA, worked as a garage mechanic, building houses and playing the Hawaiian guitar. He graduated from Beatrice High School in 1957. Don served in the National Guard from 1956 to 1960. In September of 1957, he was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood with 4th Battalion, 3rd Regiment. Don then served from 1962 to 1968 in the US Army Company E, 5th Battalion, 2D Regiment at Fort Leonard Wood. On his third tour to Vietnam, Don was injured in combat and was taken to Saigon, then Clark USAF Hospital in San Francisco, California before finally being taken to Fitzsimmons Hospital in Denver for shrapnel wounds to his lung and liver and broken jaw, receiving the Purple Heart. He married Patsy Shelley in 1966 and later divorced. They had one son, Joel. Living in Ellis, Don enjoyed carpentry, mechanics and gardening. He married Alvena (Lancaster) Laber in 1990.
Don is survived by his wife, Alvena; son, Joel and wife Adalia; granddaughter, Brie; sisters, Barbara Fisher-Schweppe of Lincoln, Bev Seitz of Beatrice; brother, Dennis of Montrose, Colorado; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; and sister, Velda Jaeger.
Memorial Services will be held at a later date. There will be no visitation. Inurnment will be in the Ellis Cemetery north of Ellis. Memorials are suggested to the family’s choice in care of the mortuary. Condolences may be left online at www.harmanwrightmortuary.com. Harman-Wright Mortuary in Beatrice in charge of arrangements.