Don Poole

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Donald Thomas Poole

Riverside and Chula Vista, 1953-1970

Donald was born in Pampa, Texas on June 28, 1929. His parents were Charlie Pool and Eula Gober. Charlie was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and worked as a Carbon Plant Repairman. Eula was born in Comanche, Texas. Don was the youngest of three siblings; two brothers, Bob and Chuck, and a sister, Wes. The family moved to California when Don was a young boy. Don attended Venice High in Venice, California until the 10th grade.

Don's employment included working as a Truck Driver for Cummings Buick (1946-1948), Laborer at the Naval Ordnance Depot (June 1948 - January 1950), Tanker Sealer and Tester at Douglas Aircraft Company (February 1950 - July 1950), Munitions Worker at the Naval Ordnance Test Station (July 1950 - January 1951), and Plumber Helper.

He married his first wife, Willa Fern Schoon, March 19, 1949, at the Church of Christ on Venice Boulevard in Venice, California. He was 19 and she was 21.

He joined the United States Army during the Korean War, on January 24, 1951. He became a Lab Tester and Gunner with the rank of U.S. Army Corporal with the 21st Infantry Regiment APO 24 and was discharged on December 11, 1952. He received four medals: Army Occupation Medal (Japan), Combat Infantry Badge, Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, and the United Nations Service Medals. But he did not keep the medals because "that part of his life was very hard for him to talk about." When he came home from Korea he was also already divorced from Willa. He remained in the Army Reserves until September 20th, 1956.

He met Kitty Battles, a Shortage Control Clerk in Production Control, at Rohr. They were married in Las Vegas on March 19, 1960 and again on May 27, 1961, and he became a stepfather to her three children. In March of 1965, Donald became a member of the Loyal Order of Moose in Riverside, California. On September 15, 1965 his divorce from Kitty was finalized.

On April 9, 1965, Donald was laid off from Rohr as "a result of a reduction in work force." But on May 20th he found a position as a Metal Worker Bench A at Hughes Aircraft Company. He returned to Rohr later in 1965 and worked in Sheet Metal.

He worked for Walt in Layout and Development/Tool Shop between 1960 and 1970. Ron Hooker was his boss in Sheet Metal, Assembly. Dale Sorenson and Jack Van Allen were his good friends. John Northup was a coworker. Don also worked in Maintenance.

His brothers, Chuck and Bob; his sister-in-laws, Jean and Joyce; his brother-in-law, Paul Altvater also worked at Rohr. He worked at the Chula Vista plant until 1967. According to Jack Van Allen, Rohr laid off a lot of employees during 1968, and Rohr told everyone to get food stamps. Don found work down at the docks and unloaded ships with bananas.

That same year he met Carol Cole on a blind date. She was a cousin of Rolland Hines who also worked at Rohr. Don proposed on that first date with Carol, she laughed at him. But he and Carol were married anyway, in Las Vegas, on September 28, 1968. A year later their daughter was born.

He worked again at the Chula Vista plant in 1969 as a Tinsmith. Between Chula Vista and Riverside Don worked at Rohr for 17 years, with his last position as a Tool and Die Maker, Mechanic Layout & Development - B in Dept. 86 working Second Shift starting at 3:24p.m. He earned $4.05 per hour.

On May 10, 1970, after celebrating a job promotion, Don died in a motorcycle accident. He was 40 years old. Rohr let the employees off early to attend his funeral.

Sources: Dale Sorenson; Bob Poole; Wes Altvater, August 1993; Carol Poole; and Jack Van Allen.


Don on his motorcycle. (DT Poole Family Private Collection)

Spot Weld Department - includes Don Poole (4th), Louis Picherri (supervisor, 2nd from right), Zig Thomas (3rd from right), and Charlie Pfrunder (4th from right). DT Poole Family Private Collection.

Bowling Center of Riverside. Rohr. Low Balls. Pictured Don Poole, Pat and Charlies Robinson, Dave Rawley, and unknown. DT Poole Family Private Collection.

Partial resume of Don's career at Rohr. (DT Poole Family Private Collection)

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Last updated: 01-22-2024