Donald Wallace Stalwick
School administrator, football coach, loving husband and father
Donald “Don” Stalwick of Claremont died on May 7, 2014. He was 83.
He was born on August 19, 1930 in Aberdeen, Washington to Opal and Bill Stalwick and grew up in the small mining town of Wallace, Idaho. He very nearly didn’t grow up because at age 5, he was buried in an avalanche in the nearby town of Burke and barely survived. Living through this near-miss typifies the kind of luck that, combined with talent and hard work, would lead to a memorable athletic career.
When he was 4, the elder Mr. Stalwick had immigrated with his family to Minnesota from a region of Germany that is now part of Poland. At 6’2”, Don’s dad was unusually tall for a man of his generation. He was also notably burly, having engaged his entire working life in physical labor, from farming to millwork. While in Wallace, his job was installing timbers in the silver and zinc mines.
Opal had been legally blind from birth. Despite her limited vision, she helped support the family with work as a domestic and later with a job at the local hospital. She was a woman with a strong personality and an enduring faith, and saw to it that her son accompanied her to various evangelical churches. Don, who was gifted with a fine voice, enjoyed the musical aspect of the services and sang in a men’s quartet for a time as a teen.
Mr. Stalwick graduated from Wallace High School in 1949. Despite coming from such a small school, with only 37 students in his graduating class, he achieved statewide recognition in football, basketball and track. He delivered a particularly standout performance in the state championship football game at Boise in 1949, which was serendipitously attended by legendary head UCLA football coach Henry “Red” Sanders. He recruited Don on the spot to play for the Bruins. Mr. Stalwick’s initial response, “I’ll have to call my mom,” is a favorite family anecdote.
Mr. Stalwick had never traveled beyond Idaho and Washington, but he flew to Los Angeles and spent a thrilling week seeing the sights and seeking admission to UCLA. He found that he needed to take a foreign language course to be admitted, but he did not return to Idaho.
The coaching staff called his parents, asked them to send his trunk and arranged for him to enroll at Chaffey College where he could play single-wing football like Sanders coached at UCLA. While he was at Chaffey, the school’s football boosters arranged for him to live in the basement of the Sycamore Inn in Rancho Cucamonga. Mr. Stalwick had an outstanding season and transferred for second semester to UCLA, where he played football as a starting running back for four years.
Mr. Stalwick played both offense and defense as one of the “gutty little Bruins” who recorded only three conference losses in the 1951-53 seasons. He lettered three years in both football and rugby and was a member of the 1953 conference championship team that played in the 1954 Rose Bowl.
Upon graduation from UCLA, Mr. Stalwick was offered a professional football contract by the San Francisco 49ers, but was unable to sign with them because he was required to report to the US Navy for active duty. He was a member of the US Navy ROTC at UCLA and was commissioned as an officer upon graduation. While in the Navy, he played football on the COMPHIBPAC team in San Diego, which won the 11th Naval District Championship in 1954.
Following his service in the Navy, Mr. Stalwick attended graduate school at UCLA and coached the freshman football team and the ski team. He next served as head coach at Hart High School in Newhall, leading his young athletes to a league championship in 1957.
He was hired at the University of Utah in 1958 to coach the defensive secondary and recruit southern California athletes. In his first year at Utah, the team went to the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu. In 1963, he was hired by the University of Colorado to coach the defensive secondary and recruit southern California athletes. He stayed in Boulder until 1965, when he moved to Claremont to become the head football coach and professor of physical education at Claremont McKenna College, then known as Claremont Men’s College.
After three years at CMC, he and several partners started a taco stand in Covina, Don Taco. He soon decided to return to education and coaching and was hired by the Chaffey Joint Union High School District in 1969. He taught and counseled at Upland, Alta Loma and Chaffey high schools and then returned to Upland High as an administrator, where he stayed for 20 years. During his time at Upland, he turned a good athletic program into a powerhouse and was well known in the Chaffey and Upland districts as the skilled creator of master schedules that provided classes to meet all students’ needs and interests.
Mr. Stalwick was awarded membership in the athletic halls of fame of Chaffey College, Upland High School and Wallace High School. He was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at UCLA.
Mr. Stalwick married Doreen Davis in 1952. While teaching and coaching, they raised three children, Dawn, Kimberly and Kent. All were outstanding students at Claremont High School. Dawn and Kimberly were members of the Pep Squad, and Kent won an athletic scholarship for football at Stanford University.
Mr. Stalwick coached Kent in Little League and later enjoyed watching his grandsons participate in athletics. Of course, he delighted in having his kids accompany him to UCLA Bruin games. The family enjoyed many vacations together, including skiing trips to winter resorts and stays at scenic spots like Lake Mead and the Colorado River.
In 1982, Mr. Stalwick married Natalie Bowen. After retirement from Upland High School, he enjoyed attending home and away UCLA Bruin football games and completing home improvement projects. He also became passionate about travel in the United States and the world, visiting nearly every country in western and eastern Europe before and after the fall of the Iron Curtain. His myriad destinations included Russia and the former USSR, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Tanzania, French Polynesia, Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina and Brazil. He and Natalie made several trips every year to the Big Island and Maui in Hawaii. His last trip was to celebrate Christmas 2013 in Maui.
Mr. Stalwick was a charter member of The Claremont Club and continued to play tennis there until February of this year. He played golf and was an avid snow skier and water skier. For 30 years, he camped at Lake Powell with a close-knit group of Claremont families that included Ted and Carolyn Ducey and Clifton and Jane MacLeod.
Mr. Stalwick was preceded in death by his daughter, Kimberly Stalwick. He is survived by his wife Natalie of Claremont, by his daughter and son-in-law, Dawn and Joe Rametta of Park City, Utah, and by his son and daughter-in-law, Kent and Diane Stalwick of Claremont. He also leaves his grandsons, Trevor (Julia) Rametta and Justin (Liis) Rametta, both of Park City, Utah, Jake and Kyle Stalwick, both of Claremont, Michael (Ryann) Stalwick of Austin, Texas, Brad Stalwick of Rancho Cucamonga and Patrick Stalwick of San Luis Obispo as well as his great-grandson, Oskar Rametta, of Park City, Utah, and his great-granddaughter, Kylee, of Austin, Texas.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, June 23 at 2 p.m. at Claremont United Church of Christ Congregational, 233 Harrison Ave. in Claremont. A reception will follow.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be sent to the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Cancer Society or a charity of your choice.