Donald Emmett Giffen was a colorful person and led a colorful life spending most of it in Harlingen, Texas where he was born on the 25th of May, 1945. In his youth, given an allowance, instead of buying a toy, he would be elated with a three-way electrical switch. Once, on an Easter Egg hunt at a large farm, Don disappeared. He was found under a washing machine in a washroom attached to the garage. He was only four years old and already interested in how machinery worked.
Don loved the American flag and his parents, Frances and E.D. Giffen, put a flag pole in their backyard so Don could raise and lower the flag for years.
After graduating from Harlingen High School in 1963, he began studying at the University of Texas in Austin.
These studies were interrupted when the writer Rose Wilder Lane moved into the Giffen neighborhood in Harlingen. After being acquainted with Don, she asked him to accompany her on a tour around the world. She wanted him to assist her in making all the necessary travel arrangements. Don and Rose left in October of 1968 and got as far as Danbury, Connecticut where Rose had a second home. Rose passed away in her sleep in Danbury thus putting an end to their travels together. However, a codicil in the Lane will left Don with the necessary wherewithal to make the trip on his own. He left in March 1969 and was gone the better part of a year, thus opening his eyes and mind to the world of travel. His love of adventure in foreign parts never left him and he traveled extensively.
When his father was no longer able to manage the Family business started by Don’s grandfather Frank Grimsell, Don took the reins expanding Grimsell’s not only from a building standpoint but from a feed and seed store into nursery plants and pet supplies. He was knowledgeable about many things and his costumers enjoyed listening to all he had to say about any of the products in the store or his take on life in general.
Don loved the Valley and contributed to the Ronald MacDonald House, the Country Playhouse, the Public Library, Gladys Porter Zoo, the Boys and Girls club and other Valley endeavors and establishments. He constantly had projects in mind for Grimsell’s until his illness made it impossible for him to see them through.
Grimsell’s has survived thanks to the immense loyalty and hard work by George Luna, manager, Basilio Torres, Jerry Abbott and Martin Villanueva who gave their all when things were very grim.
Sincere thanks to Blanche Rodriguez, retired nurse and friend for keeping a watchful eye on Don’s day to day health the last years of his life.
Thanks also to Becky Martinez and Yvonne Martinez Medina from S & S bookkeeping who helped keep Grimsell’s afloat during difficult times.
There are no adequate words to express the extreme gratitude to Nick Del Angel and Juanita Gonzales who gave tirelessly of their love, time and energy keeping Don as well and happy as could be done. They remained with him faithfully until the very end, February 24th, watching over him for 15 years.
Don is survived by his sister, Carol Giffen Mayfield, one nephew, John Charles Mayfield and his wife Tryphania, one niece Mary Frances Mayfield, one grand niece, Savannah Victoria Mayfield, and one grand nephew Josiah Asher Mayfield.
There will be a memorial service for Don on Monday, March 2nd at Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home at 3:00 o’clock. Chris Hall will conduct the service and childhood friend Judy Nix Johnson sharing some memories.
Honorary pallbearers will be George Luna, Basilio Torres, Jerry Abbott, Martin Villanueva, Blanche Rodriguez, Becky Martinez, Yvonne Martinez Medina, Nick Del Angel, and Juanita Gonzales.
If you would like to remember Don in some way, please consider donating to the Loaves and Fishes, 514 South E Street, Harlingen, Texas 78550
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