Don & Pat Buchanon

Don & Pat Buchanon

Don founded the Recreation, Parks Administration and Leisure Services program at Minnesota State University, Mankato in 1970. In 2017, he and Pat established an endowment fund to support a scholarship for a student majoring in Recreation, Parks Administration and Leisure Services, reflecting the RPLS program he established.

Don and Pat first met in 1958 when Pat’s career began-as a 17-year just after high school graduation- not as a student at Mankato State College but as Pat Gast, secretary to Dr. Roy B. Moore and the faculty of the Division of Health, Physical Education and Athletics at Mankato State College. Don was on the faculty in the Division of Health, Physical Education and Athletics and Dr. Moore was Don’s boss. No one would have predicted Don and Pat would become husband and wife 48 years later-and eventually co-sponsor a RPLS scholarship endowment fund!

Pat left Mankato State College in 1967 when she was hired by Johnson Reels, Inc. (later known as Johnson Fishing, Inc.) in Mankato. Her first position with the company was as Executive Secretary. Pat later worked in sales administration for several years before becoming Director of Human Resources for the company. After a 27½ year career at Johnson Fishing, Pat took early retirement in 1994 and then established a home office business which she managed through 2005.

Don had joined the Mankato State College faculty in the 1955-56 college year. He remained at Mankato State College (n/k/a Minnesota State University, Mankato), with a two-year interruption to complete a Doctor’s degree at Indiana University, and he enjoyed a 35-year career at MSUM as teacher, coach and administrator. Don taught physical education at the Lower Campus Lab School/Wilson Campus School and at the college physical education department. He became the first full-time Men’s Intramural Sports Director and coached the Men’s National Championship (Intercollegiate) Bowling Team in 1962. He established the Mankato State College Recreation and Parks Administration Department and was the department chairman 1970-76. In 1976 he was named Dean of the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation/Human Performance. Don held this position until his retirement in 1990. A three-year college letterman in hurdling himself, he endowed a scholarship for a male hurdler when he retired.

Don was happily married to his high school sweetheart, Ora, for more than 50 years when she died in 2005. They are survived by two daughters, Teri Pederson and Peggy (Matt) Weller; three grandchildren, Bradley (Rebecca) Pederson, Alex Otto and Libby Otto; and three great grandsons, Benjamin, Tyler and Owen Pederson.

Don began courting Pat in 2006 by inviting her out for dinner. She accepted his invitation and that first date led to more dinners and soon his marriage proposal. Pat married Dr. Donald W. Buchanan, retired Dean of the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation-becoming a bride for the first time- at age 65 ! Their fairytale wedding took place on July 15, 2006. Don and Pat had been blessed with 11 ½ years of marriage when Don died on February 1, 2018.