Donald Charles Varner Profile Photo
1941 Donald 2024

Donald Charles Varner

January 9, 1941 — May 8, 2024

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Don Varner was born on January 9, 1941 and passed peacefully joining loved ones in heaven on May 8, 2024 at the age of 83.

Don was born in Cincinnati, OH and went to Lockland High School.  Soon after joining the Navy, he married his loving wife, Carolyn Jean Mrusek on July 23, 1960.  They loved their Navy life and family and proudly served their country during assignments across the US and around the world during his 24 year Navy career and their 57 years of marriage. Carolyn passed on May 13, 2018 and Don soon after moved to Beaufort/Dataw Island, SC and lived with his daughter Cindi and Son-in Law Steve from 2018 until his passing.

Don Joined the Navy 6/15/1959 in Cincinnati, OH and went to boot camp in Great Lakes, IL. He enlisted as an EFSR (Enlisted Field Seaman Recruit), and was sent to Memphis to learn electronics and aviation mechanics.  

From 1960 – 64, Don was assigned to Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP 24) in Norfolk, VA in the Power Plants Division and got qualified as a Plane Captain as an E-5. He made deployments to Keflavik, Iceland where he detached to Ballykelly, Ireland, Stavanger, Norway and Oslo, Norway and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for the Cuban Missile Crisis from Dec 1962-Jan 1963.  His daughter Cindi was born March 19, 1962.

In 1964, Don was then stationed at NAS Sanford, FL at the Naval Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department jet shop with duties to repair and overhaul numerous aircraft engines.   Don’s son, Donald Ralph was born on November 16, 1964.  While in Sanford, Don was promoted to Chief Petty Officer.

In 1968, with follow on orders to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ-1) in Japan, he went to Flight Engineer School at NAS Patuxent River, MD. The family then drove to CA together so Don could attend training at NAS Moffett Field, CA before transferring to Atsugi, Japan with the family. Don made numerous detachments to Danang, Vietnam at the height of the War.  

After an arduous 2 years of duty with VQ-1 supporting the war in Vietnam, the Navy sent Don to Pensacola Junior College in Florida as part of the Associates Degree Completion Program to get his AA degree.  Upon completion of this degree program, Don was sent to Flight Engineer School at Little Rock Air Force Base in Little Rock, Arkansas to prepare him for his next assignment to VR-24 in Rota, Spain.  

In 1972, Don was assigned as a C-130 Flight Engineer and Maintenance Control Chief in Rota, Spain.   Don flew thousands of flight hours during this tour around Europe, Africa and the Middle East.  Don’s many hours of experience as a Flight Engineer and as an Aviation Mechanic on Navy C-130s would prepare him for his next tour of duty in 1976 at Patuxent River, MD with VQ-4.  This tour of duty turned out to be a short one because he was selected to be a Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) which required him to change commands to NAS Pensacola, FL in 1977.

Don was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 2 due to his leadership and expert Naval maintenance experience.   This job required his team to be savvy in all military aircraft that would come through NAS Pensacola that needed support in fueling, parking, repairs, logistics and inspections.  

Don then served a one year tour in 1979 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and at the end of this tour Don was reassigned to NAS Pensacola in 1980.  It is during this tour of duty that he decided to retire from the Navy after 24 years of dedicated and faithful service to his country.  

Following Don’s retirement from the Navy in 1983, he seamlessly transitioned to civilian life as a contractor with Beech Aerospace on NAS Pensacola.  In 1985, Don transferred to Bahrain for two years and in 1987, Don returned to Pensacola to take on a new role with Raytheon Aerospace, who had recently purchased Beech.  At both Beech and Raytheon Don managed the C-12 aircraft.

In 1989, Don got an offer he couldn’t refuse to work at Beech Corporate in Wichita, KS working on proposals for the Navy and Air Force.  Don retired from Beechcraft in 2005.  Don did contract proposal work for Dyncorp for a number of years and finally fully retired in 2007.  Don and Carolyn built their dream retirement home on East Bay in Gulf Breeze,FL in 1990.   They enjoyed many years of sunrises, sunsets, boat rides, celebrations and fish fry’s.

He is preceded in death by his parents Donald Leroy Varner, Mother Adele, Step-Mother Marge Varner and Sister Betty Varner Lawson.

He leaves behind his daughter Cindi Varner Crane (Steve) of Dataw Island, SC, son Donald Ralph Varner (Lizette) of Hollywood, MD, his grandchildren Noah (Rachel) and Hannah Varner, Grandson Alex Crane (Ginny) of Woodstock, GA, Great Grandchildren Nate, Jenevieve, Corbin and Wade Crane, Brothers Mike Varner of Pensacola, FL, Rodney Varner (Gail) of Mason, OH, Sister-in-law Kathy Deye (Bob) of Naples, FL, Brothers-in-law Terry Mrusek (Lisa) of Reading, OH, Greg Mrusek of Lebanon, OH, and many cousins, nieces, nephews and other family members.

He was a devoted member of Saint Sylvester Catholic Church, Navarre and St. Peters Catholic 
 Church, Beaufort, SC.

Don is known for his infectious smile and his strength and perseverance.  He could make, build or fix anything and was not only an expert in aircraft maintenance but he was also a car enthusiast. After many battles with cancer and Parkinson’s due to his exposure to Agent Orange, he is finally resting in peace.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Michael J. Fox Foundation or any Veteran association.

The family would like to thank the selfless members and caregivers of Saint Sylvester Catholic Church, St. Peters Catholic Church, The Retreat, Synergy Home Health, Amedisys, Friends of Caroline Hospice, Anderson Funeral Home and Rose Lawn Funeral Home as well as various doctors, nurses and home caregivers that supported Don and his family through the last ten challenging years.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donald Charles Varner, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Monday, May 20, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

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Interment

Monday, May 20, 2024

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

Barrancas National Cemetery

1 Cemetery Rd, Pensacola, FL 32508

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