Donald Geddes

Donald Geddes died doing what he loved to do: serving others.

Geddes, 82, was killed Monday in an auto accident at the corner of Burndale and Napa roads in Sonoma.

Son Patrick Geddes said his father, a spry former Marine and retired art teacher, was on his way to get plumbing supplies for a project at the home of an elderly member of his church whose husband was incapacitated by dementia.

"It was all about the service," he said.

Geddes was an active member of the Church of Latter Day Saints in Sonoma, where he served several years as a bishop, organizing church activities and ministering to those in need. His charitable work, however, was not confined to his period as bishop.

One typical example, his son said, was in the late 60s, during a period of heavy rain in Sonoma County. There was some discussion during Sunday morning services about how one member was experiencing flooding in her basement. Without telling anyone, Geddes quietly left the church, went home to get his tools, went to the member's home and dug trenching to help the water drain away.

Then he got redressed in his church clothes and sneaked back into the services.

"There are dozens, if not hundreds of people who could tell you stories like that, stories he wouldn't tell you himself," his son said.

Geddes' devotion to service stemmed from his youthful experience on the battlefield in Korea. He was a member of the famous First Marine Battalion, a unit that participated in some of the toughest combat of a tough war.

"Like a lot of veterans, he felt a little guilty that he survived and a lot of his friends did not," Patrick Geddes said. "He felt like he was preserved for some purpose; for him it was his family."

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