Donald Stout

By Mary Kay Gominger

The U.S. Coast Guard celebrates 217 years on August 4; established originally as part of the Department of the Treasury. One of our residents served 20 years active duty service with the Coast Guard and he will be a part of the upcoming birthday celebrations.

Donald Stout has been a resident here for two and a half years. He served four years in the Navy, from 1950 to 1954, and worked in the ships’ shoe service shop repairing shoes. When he left the Navy in 1954, Donald decided to take advantage of the GI bill and he attended first Michigan State for two years and, not liking that too well, decided to take a different path.

“I struggled at Michigan State to keep up my grades. I was no good at it. So I left and enrolled myself in the Culinary Institute of America. It was a two year program and I graduated as a master chef, finishing number 5 out of a class of 60,” Donald recalled.

With a skill he loved in hand, Donald then decided to follow his dad’s footprints and he joined the Coast Guard.

“My dad served in the Coast Guard during World War I. Since I was now trained as a chef, I was ready to sign on,” Donald said.

During the next 20 years, Donald was assigned to several small units as the cook and eventually got into the storekeeper business. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1980 and spent the next nine years with the Merchant Marines, doing much the same thing he did with the Coast Guard.

“I cooked for crews on refueling ships and tugboats with the Merchant Marines,” said Donald. “We traveled all over, up and down the Mississippi – I’ve done my share of sea service,” Donald said with a laugh.

Donald’s time with the Merchant Marines ended abruptly and almost tragically when he accidentally went head to head with a steel wall. He was in a trauma unit for a week but he managed to survive that but it ended his work with the merchant marines.

Today, Donald still enjoys participating in the many activities offered at AFRH. He loves to sing and is very active with the choir. He works out regularly at the gym and recently enjoyed competing in the Senior Olympics. He also enjoys sewing, something he learned from his late wife (married 41 years) and he has twin grandsons and has five great grandchildren.

“I love living here,” Donald said. “If anyone is interested in playing ping pong, well, look me up! I’ve played 18 different sports so I’m up to doing anything.”

Donald looks forward to participating in the upcoming Coast Guard birthday celebrations.

“Since we have so few Coast Guard veterans here, seems like I’m always the one doing the cake cutting,” Donald said. “But I don’t mind. I don’t have to make the cake,” he said with a laugh, “but I could if they needed me to.”

The AFRH Coast Guard birthday party and social in the Scott Theater and dining hall at 1:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend.