Don Fortune died March 3, 2011. He was born March 10, 1923, in the small town of Elma, Wash., to Austin Johnson and Luciel (nee Cameron) Fortune. Don graduated from Everett High School. He was drafted into the Army, where he spent most of his service in the China, Burma, India theatre and Africa.
After an honorary discharge, he enrolled at the University of Washington under the GI Bill. While attending the university, he met Dolores Coleman of Minnesota. They had a whirlwind courtship and were married Jan. 3, 1949. In August 1949, Don graduated. He started teaching in Vancouver, Wash. Don decided to move his family to California. With no job and little money, they headed to Hayward. He was soon hired at the San Francisco Examiner, where he worked for 27 years. He was a reporter, editor and was a very active union organizer and negotiator with the Newspaper Guild.
After retiring from the Examiner, Don took a job as a teacher at CSU Chico in the journalism department. After a few years, he moved to Sonoma to enjoy his retirement. There he became passionate in his pursuit to find the cause of the sinking of the HSS Rhona (a troop ship lost off the coast of Africa in 1944). With his own money and after much research, he published a book about the sinking. He also became active in the Rhona survivors' groups. With the publishing of the book, he made many friends with the survivors and the family members of the ones lost at sea, bringing closure to many family members.
Don is survived by his children, Allan Fortune, of Red Bluff, Mary Fortune, of Sonoma, Kirk Fortune, of Red Bluff, Denise Elson, of Red Bluff, John Fortune, of Oakland and Susan McDonald, of Martinez; 14 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son Mark in 1980; Dolores in 1997; and his second wife, Peggy (nee Killien) in 2002.
A memorial is being held at his son's house in Oakland Saturday, March 12, 2011 at 2 p.m.