Cover photo for Donald William Acton's Obituary
Donald William Acton Profile Photo

Donald William Acton

January 26, 1932 — March 3, 2024

Donald William Acton

January 26, 1932 — March 3, 2024


Donald William Acton was born on January 26, 1932, and died on March 3, 2024. He grew up in Eagle Rock, California, the oldest son of William Manly Acton and Dorothy Mae Ritter. Don had twin brothers – Richard and Robert Acton. He is survived by his brother Robert, his four daughters, Carol Lynn Shutt, Anne Louise Ford, Ellen Mae Acton, and Janice Dawn Acton, as well as 10 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.  


Don’s early years centered around the game of baseball. Encouraged by his father, Don started playing from an early age. When he was around ten, he founded his very own “sandlot” baseball team and named it Acton’s Aces. The players of that sandlot team became lifelong friends – his crew. He proudly maintained those relationships right up to the end of his life. 


Don continued his interest in athletics in school. While attending Eagle Rock High School, he dabbled in football for two years, but baseball was his true calling. He played on the varsity team for three years where he made the American Legion All-Star Teams. As a left-handed pitcher, Don was very well known in local baseball circles, and would regularly make headlines in the local papers. 


  • “Don Acton of Eagle Rock pitched a no-hitter to shut out Jefferson 7-0…”
  • “Don Acton… hurled the Eagle Rock All-Stars to an easy 9-0 victory over the Jet Pilots…”
  • “Strong-armed Don Acton etched his name into another page of baseball history last week when he hurled a no-hit triumph in the second round of the… baseball tourney…”
  • “Acton in Action… Don Acton is the stylish left-handed pitcher shown here…”  with an impressive black and white photo. 


Those were just a few of the quotes from the hundreds of articles that arise when you search Don’s name regarding baseball between 1948 and 1951. At the end of his high school years, Don was in touch with AAA team scouts and received an offer to play with the Chicago Cubs. However, his dad told him to focus on his education, go to college and wait for a better offer. 


It is no surprise that the reason that Don chose to go to Pasadena City College was because of its baseball program. In his second year at PCC the team won the State Championship, and Don made the all-tournament team in the Azusa Tournament. He set a tournament record for strikeouts – 18 against San Diego Junior College.


In July of 1951, Don received his draft notice and decided to join the US Navy after the end of the PCC baseball season. Don received “Disbursing Clerk” training at the Navy training center in San Diego and deployed on the USS George DE 697. 

Don’s Naval service took him to Hawaii, where he was stationed for 6 months, then to Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, and the Philippines. He served during the Korean War and would later impress his daughters with the few phases he learned in Korean – their favorites being, “where’s the bathroom” and “what time is it?”


Don served as the payroll clerk for the destroyer and commented that he was everyone’s best friend on payday. He also continued playing ball with the Navy baseball team. It was during his service on the Navy team that Don hurt his shoulder and was unable to pitch as well as he would have liked. He switched to playing mostly first base or in the outfield. Despite that, Don would say of his Navy days, “the USS George DE 697 had one heck of a ball team.”


One of Don’s baseball crew from the sandlot days was Joseph Conte. Joe had his own baseball and sports career. Don and Joe played ball together throughout high school, junior college, and even semi-pro. They remained remarkably close friends until Joe lost his battle with cancer in 2012.


Around 1956, while serving in the Navy reserves, Don moved back to Eagle Rock with his parents to continue his education at Glendale College. He received a call from his good friend Joe Conte. Joe was playing pro-ball in Pocatello, Idaho, and he had met a girl named JoAnn. JoAnn was living in Hollywood, California with a friend. Joe talked Don into going to the movies that night on a double date. That was the night that Don met Jodie, the love of his life.


Don received his AA degree from Glendale college and started to look for a job. He wanted a profession where he could be active, and not sit at a desk all day. He was still playing baseball and the manager of his Sunday baseball team suggested that he become an electrician. He offered Don a job and helped him get into the Electrical Union's Apprentice program. Don learned a trade that he loved and continued on as a union electrician until he retired in 1993.


Don loved his career as an IBEW electrician. He would mark the milestones of his life by the buildings he worked to construct. His daughters have fond memories of driving through the greater Los Angeles area with their father pointing out shopping centers, department stores and high-rise buildings that he worked on or was in charge of in its construction.


Don married Julene (Jodie) Acton on April 12, 1957. The wedding took place in Jodie’s parents’ home, and while Joe was away in the Navy, JoAnn Conte was Maid of Honor. Don and Jodie embarked on a grand adventure together. Don had wanted a son to pass along his love of baseball. But instead, he was blessed with four daughters. Don never complained about having his girls. He loved them fiercely. And would often remark – “I did not raise any dummies.”  


Don’s parents purchased a family cabin and they travelled to Big Bear every summer and numerous weekends. That is where Don introduced his daughters to fishing. When they did not catch fish in Big Bear Lake, they would stop at Alpine Trout Lakes, a trout farm. 


In addition to the trips to Big Bear, Don and Jodie started taking their girls on regular camping trips up and down the coast of California, and into surrounding National Parks. They would put the girls to bed in their camper and wake up at 3 am and start driving. Don would take the girls fishing in lakes and streams. The family also made annual trips to Morro Bay where they would take go deep sea fishing. Don’s rule was that you had to be 10 years old and bait your own hook to go on the boat. Janice remembers the snickers and jeers the other male fishmen made when Don would show up with his four girls in the early morning at Graham’s landing. But those same fishmen would be chagrinned when one of the girls won the pot for the biggest fish and they walked off the boat with a huge haul of snapper and cod.


Don and Jodie started with a camper shell and tents, graduated to an over the cab camper and trailer, and retired with a 35-foot motorhome. Don retired with an IBEW Union pension in 1993. They sold their home in Granada Hills in 1998 and set off traveling for over 15 years. 


Don and Jodie would traverse the United States and Canada. They stayed connected with their family and friends via email and visits. They made regular visits to each of the daughters’ homes along the coast of California usually targeting births and birthdays. The girls would know that their parents were on their way because they would get a package of their mail delivered to their home within a day or two of their arrival. 


Don enjoyed the caravan trips put together by their various RV clubs, but his favorite was the tour of the civil war sites through the southern states ending at Gettysburg. He and Jodie also made regular and frequent stops in Branson, Missouri and of course spent February and March in Arizona for Spring Training.


In 2008, they purchased a home in Washougal, Washington - 2 miles from their daughter Ellen. The home included a place for their beloved motorhome. As they aged, Don trimmed their trips to shorter and shorter durations. Until finally, in 2015 Jodie fell out of the motorhome during spring training, injuring her back, and their daughters insisted that their motorhome days needed to end.


Baseball, Traveling, Family, and Jodie were the things that Don held close to his heart. Don loved to travel to each of his daughters’ homes to do projects. The girls nicknamed their parents “the Units” because they were never far from each other and came as a pair. When Don lost Jodie on December 4, 2023, he was devastated. He did his best to rally for his girls. But he felt the tug of his missing piece calling to him daily. 


Don will be buried at Glendale Lawn Forest. He will join Jodie on their 67th wedding anniversary. His daughters take solace in knowing that the Units have been reunited and that is exactly where Don wants to be.


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