Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Donald Anton Woelke
WWII Veteran (Army Air Corps), Gas Co., SCV Historical Society Volunteer

WATCH Don Woelke lead SCVTV host Philip Scorza on a tour of the Sterling Borax Mine site in Tick Canyon.


On Sunday, November 15, 2015, the dwindling number of World War II veterans across the country lost another member when Donald Anton Woelke, 91, of Beaufort, S.C., went to meet his Supreme Commander.

Mr. Woelke is survived by his wife of 68 years, LaJuana Crawford-Woelke, six children, 19 grandchildren, 44 great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

Born in Brawley, California, on May 25, 1924, he was raised on a farm and learned a strong work ethic and the value of family and church. With the outbreak of World War II, Donald enlisted in what was then the Army Air Corps where he trained to be a pilot. He served his country proudly during the trying times of the day.

After the war he began working for what was then Coast Counties Gas Company. Over the years the company was purchased by other companies and he continued to climb the corporate ladder within the organization. He retired after 39 years; however, retirement didn't find him in a rocking chair on the front porch. He and his wife were involved in raising their large family, participating as living history characters in the local historical society in Saugus (Santa Clarita), CA, where they lived. He frequently travelled around the state teaching about the California Gold Rush to elementary, high school and college students. He dressed in outfits he designed and made himself from tanning the hide to constructing the clothing and making the shoes, mining equipment and other items necessary to truly portray gold miners of the past. Always at his side was his beloved spouse who did demonstrations on tatting, rug braiding, and other arts rarely done today.

Not one to let moss grow under his feet, Don loved to drown a worm or two fishing. He was an avid sportsman, often traveling out of state to hunt large game. He belonged to a local hunt club and hunted until well into his 90th year. Shrimping and boating were also pleasures he enjoyed but his passion in life was his relationship with Christ and his family. He was always there to dry the tear of a broken hearted daughter or grand-child, teach them lessons of life, give advice on investing, direction in purchasing a car or home, or how to whittle a whistle from a scrap of wood; "Pop" was always there for his family.

He moved to Beaufort about 15 years ago where he became a member of St. Peter's Catholic Church. He was also active in the Knights of Columbus here in Beaufort, the Salvation Army Senior Citizens group and the Potluck Hunt Club. Tuesday night was reserved for time with his adult grandchildren and sons-in-law when he enjoyed showing "the whipper snappers" how to wield a pool stick at the AMVETS in Beaufort.

The family will receive friends on Thursday, November 19, at Anderson Funeral Home from 5-7 p.m. with Rosary at 6:30 p.m.

Funeral Mass will be held at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Beaufort on Friday, November 20, beginning at 11:30am with internment at 1 p.m. at the Beaufort National Cemetery.

Don Woelke led an effort to recreate Newhall's Tom Frew Blacksmith Shop at Heritage Junction Historic Park. The project did not come to fruition during his lifetime. Here he is with a mock-up in the Y2K Santa Clarita Fourth of July Parade. Photo by Eric Jackson. Click image to enlarge.

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