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D: 2018-10-09
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806 Macon Avenue
Canon City, CO 81212
Phone: 719-275-4113
Fax: 719-275-4136
About An Amazing Life|Help

Donald James  "Don"

December 17, 1937 – October 3, 2018

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Donald Dexter Donald Dexter Donald Dexter

Obituary for Donald James "Don" Dexter

Donald James Dexter “Don”, age 80, passed away at home on October 3rd, 2018.
Born in Appleton, Wisconsin, December 17, 1937 to Donald James Dexter Sr., and Marcella Marie Dexter (née Schiltz). Don would go on to become a musical prodigy with a storied career working alongside music legends and helping to produce award winning films.
Don’s music education began at eight-years-old studying piano and then transferring over to drums at age 10-year-old where he played in a Scout Drum Corps until age 15. He played his first professional gig for money at age 15 with an Appleton group called the Downbeats. After high school Don Joined the U.S. Marines and spent three years playing and traveling with Marine Bands. He played 18-months with the Fleet Marine Force Pacific band that traveled over much of the Far East. After an honorable discharge he went back to Wisconsin and began playing with a Rockabilly/Rock & Roll group called Jerry Cole and the Flaming Coles. Not agreeing with Wisconsin winter weather, he packed up and headed west three-months later.
In Los Angeles, California Don worked as a studio musician and playing drums along with recording with numerous hit artists and music legends such as Ricky Nelsen, Frankie Avalon, Glen Yarbrough, Mason Williams, Joe & Eddie, Del Shannon, The Id, Nino Tempo and April Stevens, Sonny James, and the Smothers Brothers.
Before moving to Colorado from Los Angeles, Don was director of film and video for music legends, Warner Bros. platinum artists Seals & Crofts.
His vibrant past history includes playing drums in Hollywood with famous artists and music legends, performing as a studio musician, in movies and on national TV programs as well as working as an award-winning film and video producer/director, as well as being a college professor in Colorado.
Don also performed with hit artists on the NBC Johnny Carson Tonight show, The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS, numerous Rock & Roll specials on the ABC Network, along with a number of made for TV movies, and a Bob Hope Special. Don worked and recorded with Frankie Avalon in six movies, two were made for TV.
The most memorable moment for Don was playing a standing room only concert at Carnegie Hall in New York with Glen Yarbrough in November of 1967. This was a goal Don set as a young teenage musician. In addition Don was part of an experimental studio group in Hollywood in 1968 called, The Id. The Id produced an album on RCA called, “The Inner Sounds of the Id.” The album sold 240,000 copies and became a cult favorite with underground radio stations.
Don treasured his time with his wife Sandy, and they worked together on many projects such as scripts for films and national magazine articles. Don greatly enjoyed cinematography, bow-hunting, music, still photography, and documentary storytelling.
In 2003, Don Dexter was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN. (See his webpage )
Don holds a B.Sc, M.A., and a Ph.D. in Television and Film.
He has taught film and video at UC-Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College, the Colorado Film School, and The Art Institute of Colorado. Don was awarded an, “Instructor of the Year Award,” along with numerous Outstanding Achievement awards as an educator.
Since the mid-1980s, Don has been recognized by his peers with more than fifty national and regional awards as a producer/director. In September of 2010, Don won the, “Best Documentary Director Award” at the Colorado Film Festival. The documentary he directed and produced earned the, “Best Short-Form Documentary” award.
Six times he received Emmy recognition along with nine Emmy nominations. In addition, in 2016 Don received his seventeenth national Telly Award for a documentary that was broadcast on the Rocky Mountain PBS Network.
Don has an extensive background in TV/radio broadcasting as well as 20 years with producing film and video with his own company, Wolf River Productions. His work has been broadcast on commercial television, PBS stations, The History Channel, The Biography Channel, and webcast over the Internet. His favorite documentary that he directed and produced was a labor of love called, “Camp Amache: The Story of an American Tragedy.” This film won three national awards and was broadcast on numerous PBS stations.
Don was a good man who was gentle and kind and always made an effort to help others. He loved his family and lived his life with much passion. Respected and loved by many, Don will be greatly missed by family, friends, former students and colleagues.
To quote one of Don’s friends, “Don Dexter was a shooting star and all of us will long live in his afterglow.”
Don is survived by his wife of 57-years, Sandy Lee (Dominowski) Dexter; three sons, Page Andrew (Gail) Dexter, Justin Ullrich (Veronica) Dexter, and Casey Deleven Dexter; grandchildren, Kaylie Rose age 11, daughter of Casey Deleven Dexter and Joshua James Dexter age 28, son of Page Andrew Dexter, Casey Andrew Ygnatowiz, son of Page Andrew Dexter; two great grandchildren, Annalia Rose Dexter and Aybree Lynn Ygnatowiz; sisters, Julie and Carol; and younger brother Robert, all of Wisconsin.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Donald James Dexter Sr., and Marcella Marie (Schiltz), a sister Nancy Haase, and beloved daughter Sarah Rose Dexter.
A very special thanks to all the wonderful ladies who cared for Don over the past months, he looked forward to your visits every day.
A reception gathering will take place at 1:00 p.m. October 20th at Wilson Funeral Home, 1449 South 9th Street in Canon City.
Graveside services were held at Mountain Vale Memorial Park off of Highway 115, at 1:00PM for family and the Baha’i’ community on October 5th, 2018.
Don was an active member of the Baha’i Faith. People may contribute donations to the Sangre de Cristo Hospice Center at 601 Greenwood in Canon City in lieu of flowers.
Services have been entrusted to Holt Family Funeral Home.

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Interment Information

Mountain Vale Memorial Park
1700 Chestnut
Canon City, CO

Reception Information

Wilson Funeral Home
1449 S. 9th St.
Canon City, CO
Reception Extra Info
1:00 p.m. October 20, 2018