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Donald J. Fennell

Donald J. Fennell

Donald Joseph Fennell passed away on Sunday December 17, 2017 in Helena, MT surrounded by family after courageously battling cancer for over a year. Don was born in Pope County, MN on June 7, 1933; the third child and only son born to Joseph Viela and Phelia (Phyllis) Marie Fennell.

Don enlisted in the Air Force in 1955 and was stationed in the United States and Algeria. After serving in the Air Force, he joined the Montana Air National Guard and honorably retired on September 16, 1985 with the rank of Master Sergeant.

During his Air Force career Don was transferred to Great Falls, MT where he married Phyllis Olson on September 7, 1957. The couple's only child, Twila was born in 1960. Together the family enjoyed camping trips and many hours on the water fishing and skiing. Don and Phyllis divorced in 1974.

In 1975 Don married his high school sweetheart Dorothy Bieringer and eventually moved back to Minnesota where the couple lived on Little Sand Lake for over 30 years. There he could follow his passion for fishing every day; even during those frigid MN winter days you could find him nice and warm on the lake in his deluxe ice house.

Don was an accomplished bowler achieving three 300 games, several state titles, and induction into the Montana Bowling Hall of Fame. Don was an avid Barber Shopper, sharing his beautiful bass voice in Montana and Minnesota, and singing in church choirs with his bride. Don and Dot also enjoyed square dancing. During his lifetime he was a member of the Elks, American Legion, Walleyes Unlimited, and Knights of Columbus.

Don was best known for his generous spirit, compassion, sense of humor, and love of his family.

Don was preceded in death by his parents, oldest sister Millicent, and first wife Phyllis. Survivors include his wife Dorothy of Sauk Centre, MN, sister Dorothy (Norman) Winter of Medora, ND, daughter Twila (Bryan) Costigan of Helena, MT, and numerous nephews and nieces.

Don loved his Catholic faith and was a member of several parishes in Minnesota and Montana. Memorials can be made to Catholic Social Services of Montana, PO Box 907, Helena, MT 59624.

Don's Funeral Vigil will be held Thursday June 28, 2018 at 5pm and Funeral Mass Friday June 29, 2018 at 10am at St. Peter's Catholic Church (305 5th St. West) in Park Rapids, MN. A reception at his home will follow the Mass. Burial in Sauk Centre, MN and a memorial service in Helena, MT will be held at a later date. Please visit to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Don.