Donald Irvin Deibert was firstborn on 3 July 1955 at Cooper Hospital (now Cooper University Hospital) in Camden, NJ, where his paternal grandfather had served as Chief of Surgery. He was baptized into Christ as an infant in the Morrisville Presby-terian Church, Morrisville, PA, and spent his first three years in a renovated barn in Bucks County, PA, before family relocated to Vero Beach, FL and Ft Lauderdale for the next 25 years.
Don was bullied in school, struggled with learning, and was plagued by severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety. In the prime of adolescence, Don’s body began to twist relentlessly, and at the age of 24, the family travelled to Minneapolis where Don underwent a Harrington Rod insertion to stop his spine from curving beyond 85% and eventually suffocating him. This was a watershed moment in Don’s life, both for the physical triumph but more so because Don was the center of attention for many months.
Don’s friendship group was always small but loyal, chief among them, Don’s best friend, Fred Hughes. Don’s lifelong center of gravity, however, remained Mom & Dad (Barbara & Irv), who loved him so tenderly, and his wandering, preoccupied younger brother, who tried. Thus Don stayed close to home for school, earning his Associate in Arts in Hotel Administration and Restaurant Management from Broward Community College, Ft Lauderdale, FL; his Bachelor’s in Marketing Management from Jones College in Jacksonville, FL after the family relocated from Ft Lauderdale to Amelia Island, FL. Don enjoyed providing hotel-based hospitality and with these degrees was following his father. After the family relocated to Asheville, NC for their final move, Don earned another Bachelor’s in Social Work from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC. This was the degree that most truly expressed Don’s heart. And so, after a brief season running a Smoky Mountain travel business, Don finally found his resonant working life, thriving first in outpatient mental health adult day care, and then as manager of a group home for those afflicted with mental health disabilities, both in Asheville.
Following the deaths of his mother Barbara (74) in 2006 and father Irv (85) in 2013, for both of whom Don cared devotedly, he relocated to Lakewood Ranch, FL, to be near his brother and sister-in-law, Richard & Elizabeth. Don cherished the continuous companionship of one or more dogs, most recently a Cavachon “Archie” (named after the iconic stone arch welcoming travelers to Montreat), surprise-gifted to him on Christmas Day 2020.
In Lakewood Ranch, Don became active at Peace Presbyterian Church, enjoying the music and drama ministries, helping out in simple ways with tasks enabling corporate worship, mostly sound and liturgy, generously supporting the Church financially, sharing his home and many meals with Anderson Kajang, whose family Don sponsored during their immigration from Ambazonia/Cameroon in West Africa—and of course, forever repeating his favorite dumb jokes.
Don was a man who loved to drive people places. A simple man who loved helping people get where they needed to go. In Asheville, Don oversaw Mission Hospital’s “Road to Recovery” affiliate for the American Cancer Society, providing free rides for cancer patients. And Don drove for Uber and Lyft wherever he found himself, up to the week before he died. But most important to him, by far, was becoming a driver and leader for ITNSuncoast, local affiliate of ITNAmerica (Independent Transportation Network of America), a driving service for seniors and persons with visual impair-ments. When ITNSuncoast collapsed in 2020, Don found this intolerably unacceptable. Immediately, he proceeded to partner with friend and CPA Bill Kaser to found a new affiliate driving ministry of ITNCountry, “Senior Transport Services, LLC.” Don and Bill refused the denial of this service to southwest Floridians—because Don was a man that drove people places.
Don’s humble life of service to persons marginalized by both age-related and mental health disability is the way he expressed his love for Jesus Christ. Christ took Don’s daily surrender and focused him on what is most essential in human life: daily trust in God’s faithfulness, active membership in Christ’s Church, unrelenting loyalty to family, and Spirit-filled care for neighbors struggling with limitation. Few who have walked this earth have been more reliable, freer of guile, and more pure of heart than Don Deibert. He is the silent saint and unspoken hero for his brother.
Don is survived by his brother Richard (Elizabeth), nieces and nephew Emily Cisneros (Nico, and daughter Fiona) of Winston-Salem soon-to-be Boston, Catherine Harris (Taylor, and son Walter) of Naval Base Guam, Andrew (partner Amanda) of San Fran-cisco, and Rebecca (partner Chappy) of San Francisco; cousin Chuck (Susan) and their children Beth Ranoull (Jeff, and their children Ava and Annabel) of St Johns, FL, and Ben (Amanda, and their children Charlotte and Caroline) of Fairhope, AL; cousin Betsy Hughes (Fred) of Birmingham, AL, and their children Don’s Godson Bill (Jessica, and their children Barron and Sterling) of Birmingham, and Hallie Anderson (Kyle, and their children Maggie and Amelia) of Birmingham; and cousin Ted (Christie) and their children Pitch and Brody, of Wenonah, NJ.
Donations in Don’s memory may be made to Peace Presbyterian Church, 12705 FL-64 East, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34212 and to Senior Transport Services, Inc., 4654 FL-64 East, #425, Bradenton, FL 34208.
May the Memory of Donald Irvin Deibert be Eternal!