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Donald Gene Sofchalk, age 93, of Farmington, NM died on Saturday, June 4, 2022. Donald was born in Youngstown, OH, on July 28, 1928, his parents were Viola Blanche Keets, an elementary school teacher, and Alexander J. Sofchalk, a Pennsylvania railroad employee. Donald enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 17 and served 18 months from 1946-1947 with the 11th Airborne Division in Japan during the post WW II occupation. His service in the U.S. Army ultimately allowed Donald to attend The Ohio State University obtaining his B.A. 1954, M.A. in 1956, and Ph.D. in history in 1961. In his younger years, while living in Ohio and Pennsylvania, he took up downhill skiing, woodworking and hunting. After moving his family to Minnesota in 1963, he continued to pursue skiing and really began to explore one of his greatest passions, nature. As an only child, he had no issues taking solo primitive backpacking and camping trips. When they were children, Don introduced his 2 children to the outdoors, taking them on numerous camping, canoeing, and skiing adventures not only in Minnesota but throughout many parts of the Western U.S. Most of his career was as a history professor at Mankato State University from 1965-1991. Donald was united in marriage to Helen in July 1953. He was a devoted father and husband and was married 55 years to Helen Sofchalk until her death in 2008. Donald's passions were photography, backpacking, canoeing, and skiing. He spent a lifetime taking landscape photographs of all the wild places he visited, from Wisconsin, to Montana, Utah, Colorado, Alaska, and Greenland among others. At the age of 82 Donald moved to Santa Fe, NM where he spent ten happy years. He lived his life with fervor and vitality as he continued to camp, hike, and downhill ski well into his upper 80's. In May 2021 he relocated to Farmington, NM where he continued to follow politics and current events. His final trip was to Sequoia National Park in May, 2022 where he was able to take photographs of the majestic trees. He was a lifelong advocate for the promotion of wilderness areas and preservation of the environment. He is survived by his children, Donald A. of Maplewood, MN and Elizabeth of Farmington, New Mexico. Four grandchildren: Karla, Peter, Jonathan, and Samuel; and two great grandchildren, Savannah and Kilian. A memorial service will be held in Mankato, MN later in the year.
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