Donald Softchalk | Obituaries | Mankato Free Press


July 28, 1928
June 4, 2022

Donald Gene Sofchalk, 93, of Farmington, NM died 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 US Army at the age of 17 and served 18 months from 1946 to 1947 with the 11th Airborne Division in Japan during the occupation after World War II. His service in the U.S. Army eventually allowed Donald to attend Ohio State University and earn his BA in 1954, MA in 1956, and Ph.D. in history in 1961. In his early 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 ski and really began to explore one of his greatest passions, nature. As an only child, he had no problem taking solo hiking and camping trips. When they were kids, Don introduced his 2 children to the outdoors, taking them on many camping, canoeing, and skiing adventures not only in Minnesota, but in many parts of the western United States. Most of his career has been as a history professor at Mankato State University. from 1965-1991.
Donald married Helen in July 1953. He was a devoted father and husband and was married for 55 years to Helen Sofchalk until her death in 2008. Donald’s passions were photography, hiking, canoeing and skiing. He has spent his life taking landscape photos of all the wilderness places he has 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 until he was over 80 years old. In May 2021, he moved to Farmington, NM where he continued to follow politics and current affairs. His last trip was to Sequoia National Park in May 2022 where he was able to take photos of the majestic trees. He has always defended the promotion of wild areas and the 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.

Published on July 16, 2022


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