Resident Spotlight: Don McGuirk

December 18, 2015

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Don McGuirk was born in Baxter Springs, KS. June 9, 1932. He was the only child to Lloyd & Lanore McGuirk. Unfortunately, they divorced and Lanore went to work to provide for the two of them and Lanore’s mother. He spent much time with his cousins, aunts and uncles. Don recalls how his mother made an impression on him with her work ethic and caring nature she gave to him and his grandmother. It’s clear to see that has been passed down to Don in his character and the way he lives his everyday life.

The day after he graduated from high school, Don moved to Boulder, Colo., to attend Colorado University to major in journalism. His father lived in Boulder and had hoped to help Don but a tough situation arrived, and his father moved to California, leaving Don in a bind. Don then decided to join the Air Force so that his schooling and other expenses would be taken care of. He went through two schools in the Airforce. One of the classes Don took while in school was cryptography. This ended up becoming his career in the Airforce for nearly 12 years! The field of cryptography required a high security clearance, meaning it was the same as the president on a need-to-know basis.

Don met his wife ‘accidentally’ while on base in Hawaii, as a group of service members would get together weekly for card games. Mary was in the Airforce too, and was part of the group that gathered. They dated for a few months, then Don was transferred to the Marshall Islands to coordinate communications between Army/Navy /Air Force for the first H-bomb drop. With his own eyes, he saw the bomb drop, the fireball and the mushroom cloud. He was then was transferred to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. He sent Mary an engagement ring in the mail and a letter saying “I will not marry you until you have your discharge, because I will not have you outrank me!” Luckily, Mary agreed! Don and Mary were married in Don’s home town of Baxter Springs, KS. They lived at Tinker Field and had two daughters during that time. They were assigned to a small radar site and didn’t like it, so they asked for a transfer. They were sent back to Hawaii where they lived for 4 years. After the time was up, they wanted to see more of the world, so they were transferred to Germany. Because of the high security and pressure, the stress got to be too much for Don. He decided to give up eight more years of service before he could officially retire.

However, he had no training for a civilian job so decided to go to Barber School. Don worked in two local Tulsa shops before acquiring his own shop at Fontana Shopping Center, called Fontana Barbershop. He worked for 21 years in his own shop with a great reputation. The Tulsa World did a write up on Don’s Shop with pictures and an interview. Governor Henry Bellman appointed Don to the State Barber Board. He attended the National Convention in Florida, where he learned the rules and regulation for barbershops nationwide. Don worked to get fringe benefits for barbers in Oklahoma without luck. He also wrote the test for apprentice Barbers to achieve their Master Barber License. After 39 years of marriage, Mary passed away. At this point, Don sold his shop to another barber and retired to raise their grandson. Don’s attitude about success is to “always persevere no matter what comes your way.”

In May 2012 Don moved to University Village, where his talents, love for life and caring for others shines daily! Don is in the UV Drama Club, UV Choir, is a gold medalist for the UV Shuffleboard team, volunteers as an Ambassador, and assists wherever he can. He enjoys helping people. We are so blessed to have Don living at University Village.

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