Peacefully on Friday, March 26, 2021, Donald “Ding” Blight passed away with family by his side at the Portage District General Hospital at the age of 91 years.
He was predeceased by his son Rick Blight, parents Les and Florence Blight, siblings Floyd Blight, Shirley McCulloch, Ken Blight, Beth Hollingsworth and George Blight. Don will be lovingly remembered by his wife Doreen “Doddy” Blight (nee Miller), daughters Kathy (John) Isaac of Winnipeg, Leslie (Doug) Dornan of Winnipeg and Kelly (Jim) Krzyzaniak of Neepawa, daughter-in-law Donna, grandchildren Heather (Neil), Chris (Tracey), Michael (Wendy), Ryan (Erica), Sarah (Brent), Josh (Darcy), Tyson (Elaine), Kyle, Halli (Quinton) and Abby, great grandchildren Zachary, Annika, Kellen, Sofia, Evan, Elise, Fiona, Cora, Bentley, Hudson and Avery, along with extended family and friends.
Born February 22, 1930, on the farm north of Oakville, Don was the third of six siblings. He attended Beautiful Valley and Oakville schools. Although, he would be the first to tell you that he enjoyed many other activities more than school, he was an avid reader of many types of books and a crossword wizard for most of his life. Don and his brothers worked together on the farm. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to work with his father at Blight and Blight Car and Farm Machinery Dealership in Oakville, assembling farm machinery. He gradually took over responsibilities from his Dad and together they built a new building in town. Never afraid of hard work, he started selling insurance for Portage Mutual and in 1972, he took over an agriculture dealership in Portage La Prairie, later known as Blight’s Portage. Blight’s Carman was added to the business at a later date. He continued his association with Portage Mutual and eventually became a director and later Chairman of the Board. He met the love of his life, Doddy in high school in Oakville. They married in 1953 after a six-year courtship while Doddy attended university and taught school. They raised four children.
Don and his family were avid sportsmen. Although Don contracted polio at age 12 and was bedridden for months, he loved playing baseball and hockey and excelled at both because of his love of the games. He played hockey for a Portage Junior team, the Poplar Point Memorials, and acted as a coach/ player for the Portage Plainsmen and the Oakville Seals. His talent was well-known, even attracting a Minnedosa team, who sent a small plane to Oakville to pick him up for a tournament. He played baseball with Poplar Point, High Bluff, Portage, Oakville and a semi-pro team. His Dad was known to do the haying himself so Don could play a game. He and his brothers were inducted into both the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.
Golf became his life-long passion, playing often and very well. He served as president of the Portage Golf Club and was always a proud southpaw. He once won the Provincial Left-Handers tournament. Don fell in love with downhill skiing at the age of 50. He promised a customer that he would go skiing with him if he bought a tractor. As one who always kept a promise and was up for a challenge, Don was left at the top of a ski run in the Rockies to find his way down by his customer and a group of friends. He loved it so much that, when he returned, he organized multiple ski trips to the mountains for family and friends.
Don and his wife Doddy were strong supporters of community. He served as President of the Oakville Community Club when the Oakville skating rink was constructed. They later worked to support the construction of the United Church in Oakville and Stride Place in Portage. Dad extended his love of hockey by coaching younger players, including his son, Rick.
In 1996, Don and Doddy purchased a house in Highland Fairways in Florida. They had 20 years in their Florida winter home where he enjoyed golf, good friends and visits with family. They loved to travel and were able to visit Hawaii, Russia, Spain, the Caribbean, Alaska, Jamaica and many other destinations.
Don was a gentleman always. He was honourable, had an infectious smile and enjoyed meeting and greeting people. He was kind and generous and could always be counted on as a support in troubled times. His family was very important to him. Losing his son, Rick, in 2005 was a devastating blow but he maintained a positive attitude in life.
Don loved music, but didn’t dance often. He enjoyed a good joke, but intensely disliked public speaking. He had a hard time not shaking hands this past year and loved, loved a good hug.
A memorial service will take place at a later date. A slideshow is available to view below this obituary.
As expressions of sympathy, donations may be made in Don’s memory to the Central Plains Cancer Services, 318 Saskatchewan Ave. E., Portage la Prairie, MB R1N 0K8 or to a local minor sport organization.
A tree will be planted in memory and cared for by McKenzies Portage Funeral Chapel. www.mckenziesportagefuneralchapel.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Donald Leslie Blight, please visit our floral store.
Central Plains Cancer Services
318 Sask. Ave. E., Portage la Prairie MB R1N 0K8