Donald R. Topper passed away on March 31, 2020 surrounded by his wife and children.
Donald was born in Miami, Florida on January 5, 1950, raised by Myles and Wilmuth Topper Ward. Don’s extended family reached every corner of Georgia, Alabama and Florida where he went to Southwest Senior High School in Miami. After School Don loved to fix broken lawnmowers, paint homes with his father and even found time to work at a gas station where he learned more about cars. He carried his love for cars through his youth into his adult life where he worked at several General Motors dealerships.
Survivors include his beloved wife of 40 years, Linda DeForest Topper; his children, William T. Gentry of Loxahatchee, FL and Andrea F. Topper of Miami, FL; brother, Paul R. Topper of Miami, FL, Glen Ward and his wife Paulette of Jupiter, FL, William Ward of Portland, OR; sister Sylvia Wetzel and husband Larry of Jackson Gap, AL; cousin Judy Vassalotti and husband Perry of Stuart, FL; brother and sister-in-law, Craig D. DeForest and wife Debra of Tampa, FL, and Mark DeForest and wife Alice of Savannah, GA. Don has many nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews. He was truly blessed.
Don was preceded in death by his parents Myles and Wilmuth Ward of Avon Park, FL, and his father and mother-in-law, William and Myrtle DeForest of Shalimar, FL. Also, by aunts, uncles and grandparents in which he will be reunited with in eternity.
Don spent most of his adult life in Miami when he met Linda while fixing her car at Sheehan Buick. Linda loved boats and the Florida water as much as Don did so they decided their first home would be a wooden boat. They spent their first 10 years living on the Miami River enjoying the salty life of the keys and surrounding islands.
Don was eventually recruited by Miami Dade County Public Schools to teach automotive mechanics at one of the largest vocational educational institutes, Lindsey Hopkins, in the state of Florida. He spent his next 30 years teaching what he loved. At the same time, he collected old cars, restored their bodies and engines and won many trophies at car shows. He spent the weekends watching NASCAR, BBQing and working on his ’56-’57 Chevys, corvettes and the loaded 409 impala, to mention a few. His collection of old cars, boats and his love to teaching brought out of him his best self which displayed his compassion and meticulousness for a job well done. He took pride in his work and this trait flowed over to his student, fellow teachers and to his own children.
Don was introduced to Jesus in Miami’s Kendal United Methodist Church where he found many brothers and sisters in Christ who still today are lifelong friends. Don was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Dunnellon where he joined Linda in services and small groups, including the Forget Me-Nots until his condition would not allow him to attend.
Don has always loved music. He enjoyed concerts, listening to CDs and music on his car stereos or boom boxes. He loved Allman Brothers, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton and many more. In Don’s last days his mind was so clear when his music was playing. He would sing along, clap his hands, stomp his feet and keep the rhythm as if nothing was any different. God blessed him with music.
In retirement in Dunnellon, Don enjoyed his favorite dream car, the Shelby Cobra, which he drove all over the hilly countryside of Dunnellon and Ocala. Don will be missed by all, especially his wife and kids as he rests in God’s peace from this day on to eternity.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Dementia Education PO Box 434, Inverness, FL 34451-0434. This is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the public understanding of memory disease in ways that will result in better and more compassionate care. It is a 501©(3) which financial contributions are tax-deductible. More info a www.dementiaedu.org