Donald Earl Mears, Sr.

November 29, 2011


Past Services

Sunday January 22, 2012
2:00 pm

Additional Information:

Rev. Ellen Comstock officiating. A Reception will follow the service at the funeral home.

Monday January 23, 2012
Quantico National Cemetery
Triangle, VA
703-221-2183 | Directions

Additional Information:

Rev. Ellen Comstock officiating. A Reception will follow the service at the funeral home.

Lt. Col. Donald Earl Mears, Sr., USMC Ret, of Virginia Beach passed away peacefully on November 29th in his Virginia Beach home surrounded by family. Don battled liver disease valiantly over the past two and half years lovingly cared for by his wife of 39 years, Norma Bass Mears.
Born in Monroe, Louisiana on November 3, 1939, Don was the fourth of five sons. He was pre-deceased in death by his father, Hilton Clifford Mears, his mother, Mary Lucretia Langston Mears, and his brother William Norvall Mears.
In addition to his wife Norma Bass Mears, Don was survived by four children, Julia Wade and husband Geoff, Sherri McGee and husband Mike, Lee-Ann O’Dell and husband Jeff, Donald, Jr. and wife Lindsay and seven grandchildren, Dr. Jason Martin and wife Nicole, Brian Prewitt, Justin McGee, Emilee and Mason O’Dell, Annalise and Vivan Mears, as well as two step-grandchildren, Paige Erickson and her husband Jon and their two children, Caroline and Miles, and Paul McGee. His first great grandchild is on the way, due in June 2012. Don was survived by three brothers, Gene, Bobby and his wife Dianne, and Ray and his wife Charlotte, and Frances, the widow of his brother Norvall.
A 32 year veteran of the Marine Corps, Don was the consummate Marine. He enlisted in 1958 and rose through the ranks rapidly, was field commissioned while on active duty in Vietnam in 1966, and retained his field commission rising eventually to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and was a graduate of the War College, Amphibious Warfare College, and the Armed Forces Staff College. He served as an air traffic control officer and logistics officer for most of his career and cherished his time taking troops to the arctic and desert regions of the world conducting training exercises, which earned him two distinct nicknames, Nanuk of the North, and Desert Rat.
Upon retiring from the Corps in 1990, Don worked in a civilian capacity for Bendix Field Engineering and General Dynamics. Eventually, his outgoing personality, booming voice and cheerful demeanor lead him to a career in sales until his diagnosis in early 2009.
Don was a die-hard LSU fan and proud supporter of the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, as well as an incredible athlete in his prime, excelling in football, tennis, running and golf. Fiercely determined, he never shied away from a challenge, including playing Charlie in a high school drama production.
Having been raised in the Deep South by his grandfather, a Southern Baptist preacher, he and his brothers spent their youth building churches and singing the gospel. Don’s love of singing was something he carried throughout his life, and whenever he and his brothers came together harmonizing was involved.
A Memorial Service celebrating his life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, January 22, 2012 at Altmeyer Funeral Home, 5792 Greenwich Rd in Virginia Beach. His ashes will be interred at the Marine Corps Cemetery in Quantico, VA at a later date. In lieu of flowers Don wished for donations to be made to Toys for Tots, a Marine Corps charity , which is especially fitting this time of year. Condolences may be offered to the family at
The family is deeply appreciative of the exceptional care Don received during his frequent hospitalizations at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, as well as his brief time in the Sentara Hospice Program. The professionalism, compassion, and excellent medical treatment provided by everyone from the attending physicians, nurses, and nursing care partners never went unacknowledged. Additionally, the family would like to thank the Virginia Beach Fire and Rescue Teams for their compassionate care of Don and his family during their frequent visits to the home.
Semper Fi and Oooorah to an exceptional Marine, who is now at peace in heaven.

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Tom Farley
8 years ago

As a friend and colleague of Lee-Ann O’Dell, I came to know Mr. Mears through her stories. Her remembrances reflect a man of character, humor, and family.

I am truly sorry I never had the chance to know him. I am sure all who did were grateful for their moments with him.

You are all in my thoughts and prayers as you move through this very difficult time.

Peace be with you….

Susan K. Tolley
8 years ago

Dear Norma and Family,

I was so sorry to hear of Don’s passing. I will always remember Don’s hearty laugh and ever-present smile. He truly brought joy to a room. Please know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

Sincerely, Susan Tolley

Mary Love
8 years ago

Don was well liked in high school and was great in playing Charlie! Now he is resting from having such a great life on earth.

Rest in peace Don


Joe Wilkes Jr.
8 years ago

I offer the deep condolences of my family and I. I truly hope that the family and friends can find the support needed to endure this most difficult trial. Please look to the God of all comfort based on 2 Corinthians 1:3. He can give you what you need to endure.

Jason Mears
8 years ago

I sure will miss Uncle Don. I have loved hearing about his life and have always respected his service to our country. His passing has left a big hole in the Mears family. Out prayers are with you Aunt Norma and all of the children. We love you.

Brad Chewning
8 years ago

Norma, So sorry for your lose. I followed all the recent tough times with your posting on Facebook. We send our condolences.

Brad & Mary Ellen Chewning

jack marcom
8 years ago

Norma, Know that you have been in our thoughts and prayers. Your are loved and prayed for daily. Look forward to seeing you and please call upon us if we can do anything

Jen & Brian Reese & kids
8 years ago

Our deepest sympathies to a wonderful family! Don was larger than life, and Heaven has gained a fantastic story-teller. He will be missed. Peace be with you all!

Linda and Ann
8 years ago

Our prayers are with the family, as this has been a long journey. Don fought a valiant fight with his strong family support. Don is in heaven and the Lord is smiling with him. Our prayers will continue to be with the family whose strong support nurtured Don for many months. God Bless….Linda and Ann

Cecilia and Woody Eskridge
8 years ago

Please accept our heartfelt sympathy. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Joy Seavers
8 years ago

So sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. I did not know that his middle name was Earl, knowing this was a little comfort, as I named Bob’s grandchild Ethan Earl, a carrying on of family. A very regal name, for an exceptional man. Farewell, brother-in-arms. Saltue.

kelsey lee
8 years ago

To the family of Donald Mears Sr.,

I am sorry for your loss. May you find comfort in knowing that Gos is “near to those that are broken at heart; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.” Psalm 34;18 With sympathy,

Rob C. Mears
8 years ago

We love and will miss you Don. Your character and your service are inspritations to the family. May you shine bright in Heaven.


Angela and Frank Roth
8 years ago

What a wonderful memorial. I loved reading all about your Dad, Lee-Ann, he was a blessing to our country! I am sad for your loss and our prayers are for your Mom, you and your families. God Bless. The Roths

Lee-Ann O'Dell
8 years ago

You live on in your children and grandchildren. Thanks for allowing me to be part of your journey.

Love you Dad!


2 years ago

I still miss you so much papa ❤️