D. Donald Distin, Fulton teacher, head of athletics


D. Donald Distin, 81, of Avon Park, FL, was called home to the Lord in the early morning hours of June 6, 2014.

He died at home with family by his side.

Don grew up and spent most of his life in Fulton, NY.  He served his country as a staff sergeant in the US Army. During his deployment in Germany, the Army discovered he was a talented football player, and he became the captain of the 6th Armored Cavalry in 1952. His team won the European championship.

Don was also trainer for the 6th Armored Cavalry boxing team.

He later returned to the United States to marry his high school sweetheart, Carolyn Palmer, in 1954. Don and Carolyn were married over 50 years and raised four children in the Fulton community.

Don received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, as well as permanent certification as director of health and physical education, from Ithaca College.

He earned his administrative and supervision certificate from SUNY Oswego. He was initially hired as a social studies teacher and head football coach at Fulton High School, and is credited with starting the wrestling team in Fulton in 1959.

In 1962, he became director of athletics and taught physical education. Three years later, he was promoted to administrator of Health, Physical Education and Recreation for the Fulton City School District.

Don was on the original organizing committee of the New York State Athletic Administrators Association (NYSAAA) in 1981, and was recently honored as an inductee into the NYSAAA Hall of Fame in March 2014.

Under his leadership, the Fulton athletic programs for both male and female teams flourished. Then upon retirement, the new Fulton Athletic Complex was dedicated in his honor.

Don was a devoted husband and father, a dedicated educator and coach, and also a man of great faith. He served his church both in Fulton and Avon Park, and volunteered in both of these communities.

He acted as Chairman of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for the Syracuse area for five years.

Upon his retirement, Don and Carolyn moved to Florida where they stayed active and enjoyed their time together while continuing to positively impact their new community.

After Carolyn’s passing in 2006, Don married Judy (Harris) and they shared seven happy years together.

Don will be lovingly remembered by his wife Judy, his children Sherman (Michelle) Distin, Susan (Ron) McFarland, Mary (James) Earley and Mark (Reenie) Distin, and his brothers Sam (Marlene) Distin and Milton (Sue) Distin.  He will also be remembered fondly by his many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, step-children, nieces, nephews, former students, coaches and athletes.

A celebration of Don’s life will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 12, 2014 at the Fulton Alliance Church, 1044 Route 48, Fulton, NY 13069. A ceremony will also be held in Sebring, Florida at 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to:  Meals on Wheels, P.O. Box 1643 Avon Park, FL 33826, or Good Shepherd Hospice, 4002 Sun N Lake Blvd, Sebring, FL 33872.

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