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Donald Joseph Dessart
  • 86 years old
  • Date of birth: Apr 2, 1928
  • Place of birth:
    Green Bay, Wisconsin, United States
  • Date of passing: Apr 3, 2014
  • Place of passing:
    Piedmont, Alabama, United States
Let the memory of Donald be with us forever

This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Donald Dessart, 86, born on April 2, 1928 and passed away on April 3, 2014.  We will remember him forever.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on July 17, 2014 at The Church of the Good Samaritan, 425 N. Cedar Bluff Rd, Knoxville, TN 37923.

 

College Professor and Korean War Veteran

Dr. Donald Joseph Dessart (Don/Dad/Grampa Don/Papa), 86, passed away peacefully on April 3 at Piedmont Health Care Center in Piedmont, AL.  He was born on April 2, 1928 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the son of the late Eli Joseph Dessart and Mary Octavia (Warrichaiet) Dessart.  In addition to his parents, Don is predeceased by his beloved wife of 60 years, Gloria Jean (Clemons) Dessart and a sister, Arlene DuFresne.  He is survived by a sister, Nancy (Jerry) Boettcher; children, Mary Newsome, Tom Dessart, Jean (Rob) Rush, Brian (Jamie) Dessart, and Ruth (Milton) Mason; grandchildren, Ryan (Cassie) Rush, Beth Rush, Joseph (Tiffany) Rush, Aimee Mason, Katie Dessart, Wesley Mason and Abby Dessart; a great grandson, Reef Rush; and many cousins, nephews and nieces.  His guiding wisdom, wonderful sense of humor and loving nature will be greatly missed.

Don graduated from West High School in Green Bay in 1946 where he was senior class president.  He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a Naval ROTC scholarship graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Mathematics Education and was commissioned as an Ensign in the US Navy on June 16, 1950.  He married Gloria on June 17, 1950 in Green Bay.  He served aboard the USS Los Angeles, a heavy cruiser, as a gunnery officer making two combat deployments to Korea during the Korean War.  Don left active duty in 1953 but served in the Naval Reserve until 1960 attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  He was very proud of his service and was always interested in talking about the Navy.

Following the war Don taught high school math for two years in Escanaba, Michigan and Monona, Wisconsin.  After receipt of his Master’s Degree in Mathematics Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison he took a teaching position at State University of New York-Oneonta.  He completed his PhD in Mathematics Education in 1961 at the University of Maryland in College Park.  In 1962 Don accepted a position at the University of Tennessee as a professor in the departments of Mathematics and Math Education so he and Gloria moved the family to Knoxville.  Don taught at UT for over 40 years retiring as a Professor Emeritus.  He had a passion for teaching bringing a special gift for making complex mathematical principles more understandable to students who were intimidated by or less inclined toward mathematics.

Dr. Dessart accumulated numerous professional achievements.  He published over 60 articles in various professional journals.  He served on several committees of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and as Vice-President and President of the Tennessee Mathematics Teachers Assoc.  Don also served as the Director of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and chaired the editorial board of the Journal for Research in Mathematics.  His awards and honors include Who’s Who in America, the John B. Tunstall Award as Outstanding Faculty Member (3 times), the Excellence in Humanity and Teaching Award and the Helen B. Watson Faculty/Student Outstanding Dissertation Award.  Don’s two crowning professional achievements were his election as the UT Macebearer for 1998-99, the highest honor for a faculty member, and the 2002 NCTM Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics Education.

Don, a life-long Episcopalian, was a faithful member of the following churches: the Church of the Ascension, Tyson House and Good Samaritan.  He was active in each church serving in many capacities.

Don was a sports enthusiast and an avid fan of his hometown Green Bay Packers.  He loved to read, especially history.  He also had a passion for genealogy compiling an impressive collection of family history.  Don and Gloria travelled to his ancestral Belgium where he made contact with distant cousins.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Church of the Good Samaritan, 425 N. Cedar Bluff Rd, Knoxville, TN 37923 or Piedmont Health Care Center, 30 Roundtree Dr, Piedmont, AL 36272 (enter “Indigent Fund” in memo line).

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Mary Rayson on 17th July 2014

"John and Don became very close friends during the time they both were exercising at Ft. Sanders West.  Don and Gloria were wonderful individuals and will always be fondly remembered.  I am sorry I cannot be at the service today"

This tribute was added by Terri Hopkins on 8th July 2014

"I just heard of Dr. Dessart's passing. He was a tremendous teacher and the mentor that led me to believe I could earn my doctorate. A wonderful man-the world is richer for his contributions. My condolences to his family."

This tribute was added by Shirley Frye on 23rd April 2014

"Don was an outstanding leader and a great contributor to mathematics education because he was always a special teacher.   Every one of us benefitted from learning from him in committees, boards, task forces, and each conversation with him.   HIs dedication to the profession has been exemplary.   I cherished his friendship through the decades.  He leaves a great legacy to his students and his colleagues."

This tribute was added by Jennifer Sexton on 17th April 2014

"Prayers and sincerest sympathy to all of Dr. Dessart's loved ones.  He was my undergraduate adviser at U-T, 1966-1970, and was always very encouraging and helpful. I got to know him better when he became my major professor and taught several of the courses I completed as I worked on an M. S. in Math Education that was received in 1977.  I framed and still treasure the note he wrote to tell me I'd passed my comprehensive exams.  I'll always be grateful for the recommendation he gave me that was very influential in my being chosen in 1980 to join the mathematics dept. at Cumberland College (now University of the Cumberlands), where I remained for 24 years.  I was thrilled when he became a consultant to our dept. and came up to visit and observe--and went to lunch with us!! That was about 2003 and was the last time I got to see him.  He was a brilliant scholar and educator and I deeply admired and respected him. May the Lord be with you and give you His strength, guidance, comfort, and peace.
With Christian love, Jennifer Reed Sexton, Helenwood, TN."

This tribute was added by James Baker on 15th April 2014

"My memories of Don started aboard the heavy cruiser USS Los Angeles. We both served in Fox Division and made two combat tours
in Korea.  Thanks to our old ship, we were once again reunited in
Knoxville, TN along with our families.  Anchors Away Shipmate, you
will be missed."

This tribute was added by Jack Glover on 10th April 2014

"I have never known anyone in my life who I would characterize as a "gentleman and a scholar" until I came to know Mr. Dessart.  As a math professor he clearly qualified as scholar.  As a person he was also a true gentleman.  Soft spoken were his words, but every word he spoke was genuine and sincere. He had a wry sense of humor and a chuckle that was unmistakeable.  I found myself saying things to him that I knew would elicit that "little chuckle" just because I liked to hear it.  I kind of think he enjoyed it too.  Don was always interested in what people had to say and he was a good listener; something my wife always pointed out to me.  I enjoyed the many times I visited Mr. Dessart.  They were special and rewarding times for me.  We enjoyed each other's company but perhaps none more so then when I'd show up with his favorite-a meatball sandwich. He never failed to finish a sandwich.  I will miss this "gentleman and scholar" as will all members of the Dessart family.  But heaven is a richer place now because of his presence there."

This tribute was added by laura mccormick on 9th April 2014

"Along with my father, my sweet uncle Don was a mentor to me as a teacher. His love of education was contagious for me as a young girl. And I have awesome memories of our talks later in life as to the state of schools. But most of all, I will remember his gentleness, sense of humor and loving good nature. Love you uncle Don"

This tribute was added by Polly Anna Harris on 9th April 2014

"Don Dessart was the teacher who made it possible for me to obtain my masters degree at UT 18 years after I earned a B.A.  That enabled me  to return to a marvelous teaching career of 20 more years.  I join the family of Dr. Dessart in remembering him with admiration."

This tribute was added by Andrea Huntington on 7th April 2014

"God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others..."

This tribute was added by Marilyn way on 7th April 2014

"Never from the presence of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!"


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Brian Dessart

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