WHITEHEAD, Donald Brian

September 13, 1949 – March 19, 2021

Donald Brian Whitehead was born on September 13, 1949 in Calgary, AB, to Allan Wilfred Whitehead and Norma Anita Whitehead (ne. Clausen). His father was a police officer and WWII veteran; his mother was a talented musician and artist. He was raised in Calgary when the cityscape was very different from today. As a new build, his childhood home in Capitol Hill was only 2 blocks from the north edge of the city. He would walk a short distance to play in the fields and valleys that are now Confederation Park, Rosemont and the furthest north blocks of Capitol Hill – an area that he called Grasshopper Hill.

Don’s athleticism was apparent from a young age, manifesting in hockey, football, wrestling and even downhill skiing, but hockey was his favourite sport. As a child, he would lace up outside his house, then skate down the road to the outdoor rink. He started playing with local community teams, eventually making it to the AAA Stampeders. At age 17, he passed the Ski Patrol test at Mt. Norquay, becoming the youngest person to patrol the upper slopes at that hill.

After high school Don attended the University of Calgary on a hockey scholarship, playing for both the football and hockey teams. Deciding that a PE degree was not the right path for him, Don left university before his third year to pursue different career opportunities, including working as a pro-patrol at Lake Louise and managing a variety store. Eventually he found his true calling, following in his father’s footsteps as a Calgary Police Officer. The CPS changed the rule about fathers and sons not being allowed to serve together in order to hire Don. He served the city for 27 years, demonstrating integrity, impeccable work ethic, and a true gift for detective work. He achieved many firsts for the department, including the city’s first cocaine bust.

After retirement, Don ran his own lawn care and snow clearing businesses in Cochrane, AB, before working as a property manager and tow truck driver. Not working was never an option for him. He also returned to ski patrolling as a volunteer at Nakiska. In the summers, he developed a love for golf, spending many weekends at the Tooth of the Dog.

Don retained a life-long passion for hockey, playing on the police team as well as numerous recreational teams. He was known for his speed, great defense skills, toughness, and remarkable sportsmanship. Many people have said that they enjoyed the game more when playing on his team. And in his early 60s, he was still fast enough to play with 40- and 50-year groups. One of his favourite hockey memories was playing in the Oldtimers Hockey Challenge against NHL greats such as Guy Lafleur and Lanny McDonald, which was refereed by Maurice Richard. Don continued playing as long as physically possible, until he was required to use oxygen.

Those who knew Don, appreciated his positive outlook on life and quick-witted sense of humour. He always wanted to make other people smile and laugh, even near the end when he was in great discomfort. He was a kind and compassionate person who would go out of his way to help others, no matter the inconvenience. He had so much love to give.

Don’s greatest joy was probably his children. He was a wonderful father who supported their many interests. He coached them in various sports, attended concerts, drove them to activities, took them fishing, hiking and camping, and of course, he taught them all to skate and to ski. As soon as his child could walk, they were ready to skate.  

In the early hours of March 19, 2021, Don succumbed to pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable disease, passing peacefully in his sleep at the Agape Hospice in Calgary, AB. His final day on earth involved cheerful visits, butterscotch ice cream, and as always, winning multiple games of crib. He is survived by brothers Ron and Laurie, his first wife, Marion, sons DJ and Carl, daughters Keri, Laura and Jessica, seven grandchildren, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. Don also touched the lives of everyone that he met, leaving behind countless friends.

The family would like to thank the Agape Hospice for making their father’s last days as comfortable as possible. In lieu of flowers, Don wished that donations be made in support Pulmonary Fibrosis research. Donations can be made in memory of Don Whitehead at: https://cpff.ca/get-involved/donate/

If you wish to notify the family of your donation, notice can be sent at the time of donation to: donwhiteheadmemorial@gmail.com

An online memorial service was held on Saturday, March 27th .

View the Photo Tribute that played at Don’s service

Arrangements entrusted to Florence (Flo) Simpson, Funeral Director

Cochrane Country Funeral Home – Ph: 403-932-1039

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  1. On March 22, 2021 at 10:20 pm Arlene (McFadyen) King Said:

    Heartfelt condolences to the Whitehead family. Donny was an old and dear Capitol Hill friend. Thanks to Facebook, we reconnected some time ago and shared some memories and smiles. Rest easy, my friend…your work here is done.

  2. On March 22, 2021 at 11:39 pm Jack Richards Said:

    It was a pleasure knowing Don and having him as an employee!

    May you rest in peace!

  3. On March 23, 2021 at 6:39 am Jack Beaton Said:

    I had the privilege to serve with Don during his many years with the CPS. He displayed all the attributes that people associate with a good police officer. He was well liked by many and truly put his brother officers first. He left behind many good policing stories that will carry on his legacy.
    Till we meet again brother, Rest In Peace.

  4. On March 23, 2021 at 8:20 am Sean Lynn Said:

    Don was a sergeant in District 4 when I started and I found him to be a Good Man! Eternal Rest grant to him dear Lord.

  5. On March 23, 2021 at 10:33 am Rod & Bonnie Embree Said:

    My deepest sympathies to you and your family.

    Rod & Bonnie Embree

  6. On March 23, 2021 at 10:35 am Mike Turcotte Said:

    I am so sorry for your loss and the pain you are going through right now. Donny was bigger than life to me, as he was my Officer Coach when I was a young and naïve rookie in 1977 and only 19 years of age. Police Officers never forget their Officer Coaches and Donny sure taught me a lot. Some stories are best told over a beer, but I will always remember Don as a mentor, a brother officer and a friend. Again, my deepest condolences.

  7. On March 23, 2021 at 10:53 am Cheryl Sauer Said:

    So very sorry to hear of your loss. I knew Don many years ago as a close friend of my brother Don Gordon. After many years Don and I had a laugh and conversation about how he “had a thing for me” but I was older so didn’t pursue it. Never will forget that gear conversation. My brother had nothing but praise for Don and rightly so. Be strong and remember how special he was and peace he now deserves. He was born on our Moms birthday and passed on my birthday. Will always remember that and him with fondness

  8. On March 23, 2021 at 10:58 am Brad Teigen Said:

    It was an honour to have served on the CPS with Don and to call him a friend! My condolences to his family.

  9. On March 23, 2021 at 11:52 am Nick Serrao Said:

    My condolences to Don’s close and extended family at his sad passing. Don was very much respected and liked by those who knew him in the CPS.

    RIP Don.

  10. On March 23, 2021 at 12:16 pm dennis taylor Said:

    I am very saddened to hear of the loss of Don. His father was one of my Patrol Sergeants during the early 60,s
    I was a team mate of Don,s on the Calgary City Police Team also in the 60,s.
    Don was a joy to know and a well respected player on our team. He always had a smile on his face and enjoyed every minute on the ice and in the dressing room.
    Please accept our deepest sympathy in your loss.
    I will always remember him as a friend and team mate.
    Dennis (Mavis) Taylor

  11. On March 23, 2021 at 12:46 pm Deryck & Norma Jones Said:

    Often would see Don in Cochrane and share a good few moments . He was always positive about life and enjoyed a good laugh! He was never idle , always busy doing something with a smile on his face. He will be sadly missed.

    Sincerely, Deryck & Norma Jones

  12. On March 23, 2021 at 12:57 pm Steve Peake Said:

    So very sorry to hear that Donnie has passed. I first met Donnie in 1973 as I was greener than a one dollar bill having just finished recruit training. He was one of the few “senior” guys that really tried to make people feel comfortable. I will always remember him as a very kind and softspoken man (which is rare in our line of work. He was a good friend to everyone he met and a bit mischievous, which is what endeared him to many. I will miss him but more importantly he will be missed. Rest in peace my brother. Your shift has ended. Heartfelt condolences to the family and countless friends

  13. On March 23, 2021 at 1:30 pm Brad English Said:

    Don was a great guy, always a gentleman . Always upbeat. I remember him as a thoughtful guy , always willing to listen to you . Played hockey against him at work . I can remember him complimenting me on a play or two even though we were rivals on the ice .

    My condolences to his family, a quality human being and a pleasure to know.

  14. On March 23, 2021 at 1:56 pm Joy & Lindsay Said:

    Our thoughts and healing messages to all of Don’s beautiful family. We are so sad to hear of his death,we know his memory will be a comfort.
    Our Love to all.

    Joy and Lindsay

  15. On March 23, 2021 at 2:12 pm Art Johnston Said:

    Sorry to hear about don passing this week, I did not see him a lot at the CPS but we played in a Charity hockey game at the Saddledome and in Santa Rosa California , he was a very good hockey player and Athlete I am told. Condolences to the Family.

  16. On March 23, 2021 at 2:39 pm George Rocks Said:

    I can’t believe that Donny is gone! He and I worked in the drug squad, the vice unit, and in uniform in District 4. I could always count on him to come up with some unique solution to solve a problem – no matter what the problem, and he usually did so with a grin on his mischevious face. I heard a story that is typically Donnny. Rick Patzer got a new motorcycle and wanted to show it to the vets at their regular coffee gathering in Cochrane. He parked it out front and went in to invite the group to see his new bike. while he did so, Donny snuck out without being seen and poured engine oil on the ground beneath Patzer’s bike. When Patzer proudly led the group outside for the viewing, he had a fit because of the damned oil leak. Donny just smiled and everyone knew – it had to be Donny! Donny, you’ve given me a lot of great memories. Thank you. I’ll miss you pal.
    George Rocks

  17. On March 23, 2021 at 2:56 pm Doug & Jill Richards Said:

    Thinking of Marion and family at this time. Sad to hear of Don’s passing. Know we are thinking of you and trusting you take comfort in the support of your lifelong friends and neighbours.

  18. On March 23, 2021 at 3:06 pm Leonard Dafoe Said:

    After reading Don’s wonderfully written obituary and the loving comments already posted here by many others I find myself in the rare position of having nothing further to say about this great man except; “You will be missed brother, your shift is over and you can truly rest well knowing that you gave it your all.”

  19. On March 23, 2021 at 3:48 pm Clay Anderson Said:

    May Don’s family and friends have peace knowing he is in a much better place! Don was a Sgt. when I was a rookie. He was always one of those Vet’s you could turn to for solid and helpful advice. He gave it with a smile on his face! Don earned my thanks and respect from those interactions. This world is short one Gem of a human being. God Bless!

  20. On March 23, 2021 at 5:53 pm Deborah Murphy Said:

    fair well Don,Enjoy the welcome party on your arrival home to Father’s house. I loved and so enjoyed the Christmas eves we had at your home. you had a true gift of hospitality. loved you while you were here and love you into eternity.
    Hugs and sympathy to all your love ones left behind.
    Debs and Denis

  21. On March 23, 2021 at 6:56 pm Russ and Patsy Sabo Said:

    Patsy and I send our most sincere condolences at Don’s passing. I had the opportunity to get to know Don early in my career and while we were never partners, Don stood out as a great role model for junior and senior officers alike. As I reflect on my memories of Don it is important to tell you he made a difference in the lives of so many of us who had the good fortune to know him. Rest in peace.

  22. On March 23, 2021 at 8:45 pm Keith Worthington Said:

    I had the good fortune of spending time with Don at three different stages of our lives. First, in 1966, when we were Stampeder teammates for half a season in Midget hockey; then, in the early 80’s we chatted at parent-teacher interviews (re: Carl); and, most recently, we have been occasional teammates or rivals at 55+ hockey. Always, Don was friendly, supportive, and kind. He had a particular civility that I will always remember.

  23. On March 23, 2021 at 10:48 pm David Kotowaki Said:

    I was a rookie when I attended a difficult call…and the person died in my arms. The next day a Sgt called me for coffee….I was terrified I had done something wrong. The Sgt was Don, he heard about the call I attended and wanted to check in on me and how I was doing….no one else did. I remembered his empathy as leadership trait for the rest of my career! Thanks Don RIP.

  24. On March 24, 2021 at 7:52 am Linda Whitehead Said:

    My deepest condolences to all the Whitehead family.

  25. On March 24, 2021 at 8:31 am Edith Wearmouth Said:

    Don was certainly a larger than life person. Full of enthusiasm and love for his family. The first time we met was at a family reunion. Don showed up with long hair, long beard, leathers and chains. We teased him for a long time about “first impressions”. My love and prayers go out to Carl, Keri, Laura, and D.J. and families.

  26. On March 24, 2021 at 9:12 am Bob Galloway Said:

    Condolences to the family. It was my pleasure to have known Donnie through CPS. The world needs more people like him. Donnie was well liked and respected. He will be missed and remembered.

    Sincerely Bob and Joy

  27. On March 24, 2021 at 10:56 am gerard W brand Said:

    Condolences to your family, Don, was an outstanding man who always managed to treat one with dignity no matter who you were. You will be missed, May the Souls of the faithful departed rest in peace… Gerard

  28. On March 24, 2021 at 3:25 pm Donna Majcan Said:

    On behalf of the entire Majcan family who had the privilege of time spent in Don’s company over several occasions and got to enjoy and appreciate his gracious and wonderful personality, we offer our sincere condolences to all members of the Whitehead family in this time of great loss and sorrow.

  29. On March 24, 2021 at 5:12 pm Jack and Beverley Mullins Said:

    Bev and I are very sorry to hear of Don’s passing. Don was a most notable figure during our 1970’s hockey gatherings at the corral when a “rag tag” group of police officers would meet at the Stampede Corral and other arenas for a game . We so much enjoyed Donny and his hockey abilities, occasionally joined by his dad, Dick who gave us some encouragement. We will miss that pesky smile and fine friendship, especially of late, at Golf Tournaments. Our sincerest sympathies to His family. Rest in Peace Don…..Jack and Bev Mullins

  30. On March 25, 2021 at 9:33 am Gail Whiteford Said:

    Reading the obituaries today I was saddened to see that Donnie (which is what my mom called him when he was young) had passed away. We Whitefords lived next door to the Whiteheads for many years. My dad, Jim Whiteford, was in the CCP with Donnie’s Dad, and Mom, Phyllis was good friends with Donnie’s mom. I remember being angry at him for picking on me when I was very young. I bashed him over the head with a hammer, which I am sure did not effect him later in life. He had a greaat smile and I was so proud to have known him. My love to all the family. May you laugh at your memories and tell tales of Don’s life.

  31. On March 25, 2021 at 3:20 pm Jessica Belbin Said:

    As a kid my family and Don and Marion’s family spent a lot of time together. We played board games and spent time in their hot tub, always laughing and having fun. Don (to my child eyes) was a giant man with a giant moustache and a kind heart. He has remained that way for me to this day. When I saw him last summer he called me by my radio personality nickname. It showed me two things 1) He listened to me when I was on air! And 2) I’ve been off the radio for many years but his memory was awesome and he was lovely for calling me by a name I love. Thank you Don for being in my life. I send hugs and condolences to Marion and the Whitehead family.

  32. On March 25, 2021 at 5:54 pm Michelle, Alexander, and Benjamin A. Said:

    Laura, it is so difficult to see someone you love grow weak and pass away. Please know that we have been holding you and your family in our prayers as you say goodbye to your Dad. May this time of remembering bring you closer together with friends and family and may you find the hidden sparks of colour as you navigate the gentle unfolding of grief. As you have brought a deeper sense of the power of music into our home, that that music comfort your soul these days.

  33. On March 25, 2021 at 8:23 pm Bill and Esther Gaskarth Said:

    Our deepest sympathy goes out to Don and his family. We remember Don as a very good hockey player on the City Police Team in the late 1960,s and 1970,s He was not only a good player but a very welcome and jovial person in the dressing room. He was always wearing a smile and brought joy to his team mates.
    We considered him a friend and welcomed him to our home on a few occasions. Don will be sadly missed however happy memories of Don will be with us forever.
    Bill and Esther Gaskarth

  34. On March 25, 2021 at 8:58 pm Norm Parrott Said:

    Our heartfelt condolences to the Whitehead family. DJ, your dad was a special man.
    Norm + Dorica Parrott

  35. On March 26, 2021 at 8:21 am James Grossklaus Said:

    My heartfelt condolences go out to you and your family. Don was a Sgt when I started my rookie policing back in 4 district, oh those fun days. He was always there when you asked, or when he thought you needed, advice and guidance, but always with a warm smile. Don was an influence whose words I never forgot. Rest in Peace Don…. James

  36. On March 26, 2021 at 10:29 am Ralph Smith Said:

    Don and I played crib on the morning of the 18th, and he chased me all over the board. He was in good spirits and we had a wonderful visit. Don was one of the nicest and most genuine gentlemen I’ve ever met. We worked together at Cottage Club, doing the summer maintenance work, and every day with him was an adventure and filled with laughs. He had a sly sense of humour and an abundance of bad jokes. He reminded me a lot of my late father, the way he always took the time and interest to show me the “proper way” to do anything we were undertaking. He’d always make time to ensure I had it right before he’d send me off to complete my tasks, and sooner or later he’d drop by for a chat and to see how I was doing. He was a good man and my family and I will miss him.

  37. On March 26, 2021 at 2:35 pm Clarence & Joan Longeway Said:

    Our sincere condolences to DJ and the Whitehead family. Always enjoyed our visits With Don at the Home Quarter. Rest in Peace old friend.

  38. On March 26, 2021 at 3:21 pm Dan and Brenda Odell Said:

    Dan, Brenda, Family and staff of Tooth of the Dogpound Creek Golf Course are very saddened to hear of Don’s passing. We send our deepest condolences to the Whitehead family. Don first became a member in 2006, and avidly returned each season. Don was a kind and appreciative man. We will miss not seeing him at Tooth of the Dogpound Creek Golf Course.

  39. On March 26, 2021 at 4:19 pm Kevin Forsen Said:

    Don will be missed, as many others have said, he was a great mentor to young rookie police officers. He was one of the Sergeants in District 4 when I joined, and he always took the time to check in on us and guide us through the challenges of the job. I will always remember his genuine care for other members. My condolences to his family.

  40. On March 27, 2021 at 11:43 am Hank Franklin Said:

    What do you say about a man you shared a friendship with for over 50 years ? I was blessed to call you partner at work during our service with CPS, teammate over the many years we played hockey together and close confidant sharing our lives together.Forever in my heart, till we meet again. Your old winger Hank.

  41. On March 27, 2021 at 11:45 am Rod Wallace Said:

    My condolences to the entire Whitehead family. Don was a old friend from the Capitol Hill area in Calgary. We grew up together as kids, playing hockey, attending King George school grades three to nine, having Calgary Herald paper routes, & sharing a few mischievous adventures together as part of the Capital Hill “gang”. Don’s dad was a inspiration to all of us who enjoyed minor hockey. Weather it was flooding the ice, after clearing the snow off at the outdoor Park rinks, refereeing games, or providing helpful advise to so many young kids, Don’s dad was always there for all of us. Truly a great family, the Whiteheads. Does anyone remember the cross town journey to play hockey games in an old station wagon, listening to & singling, “The Lion Sleeps tonight “ ?

    Although both Don & I grew up, & went our separate ways, we always remained friends & shared so many childhood memories. Rest In Peace old friend. See you at the next “game” in the sky sometime soon.

    Rod Wallace

  42. On March 27, 2021 at 3:47 pm Judy Strachan Lyons Said:

    So very sorry to hear of Donnie’s passing our families were friends back in the days when our dads were on the police force together. My condolences to all the family. Judy Strachan Lyons

  43. On March 27, 2021 at 6:10 pm John and Rosie Forsyth Said:

    So sorry to hear of your loss. Our condolences to all of the family.

  44. On March 27, 2021 at 6:17 pm Judy Strachan Lyons Said:

    So sorry to hear of Donnie’s passing. Our families were old friends. Many fond memories
    Condolences to the whole family. Judy

  45. On March 27, 2021 at 9:23 pm Jim& Gladys Jones Said:

    What a beautiful service put on by Don’s children in honouring the passing of their father. It was such an honour to be invited to this function. This also included one of the CPS Bands bagpiper and two of the Honour Guards. The family all talked about how a great father Don was and the love of hockey and other out door sports. Donnie was a mans man but a real gentleman. I was lucky enough to work with him in uniform in 4 District and in plainclothes in the Drug Unit. We had family party’s. Especially at Christmas time, which we all enjoyed. Any type of challenge Donnie was up to it. You will never be forgotten, Detective Donald Brian Whitehead, Retired. Rest In Peace you have earned it. All are love to family and friends. Jim & Gladys Jones.

  46. On March 28, 2021 at 11:57 am DIANE WILLIS Said:

    My sincere condolences to your family. Don & I worked together for years; he was a good man.

  47. On March 28, 2021 at 8:23 pm Del & Pat Haynes Said:

    So sorry to hear of Don’s passing. We would like to send our condolences to the Whitehead family. When I joined the CPS, Donnie took me under his wing and showed me the ropes of the job at hand. Made sure that I was included on the hockey team and always encouraged me to play better. Through the years, we were separated by living in different areas of the province. I was able to contact Don recently and we shared some great memories. Rest in peace. Del & Pat Haynes

  48. On April 1, 2021 at 4:48 pm Becky Zimmer Said:

    DJ and Marion

    I am so sorry to hear about Dons passing. I thought the world of him and enjoyed being his neighbour. I tried to find your number Marion but couldn’t find it.

    Love Becky

  49. On April 4, 2021 at 8:10 pm Tracey Horsley Said:

    Don was such a generous person. He took me skiing when I was a teenager.
    He organized family reunions which kept all us cousins and aunts and uncles in touch.
    I am glad that we reconnected in the past few years. I am grateful for the positivity and kindness he showed me.
    Condolences to all his family.

  50. On May 10, 2021 at 4:43 pm Rebecca Davidson Said:

    Don was a lovely man and a pleasure to work with. My thoughts are with Don’s family and many friends as this sad time. My sincere condolences…

  51. On October 30, 2021 at 8:28 pm Ken Johnston Said:

    Don was there for me at the lowest point of my life-he insisted on helping when I wasn’t sure I needed help(I did) A true gentleman. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!