Monday, September 27, 2021


Donald Lee Trownsell


Donald Lee Trownsell, died in his sleep at home on May 14.

Born April 15, 1927, in Flushing, New York, Don grew up there and at his summer home on Long Island’s North Fork. His youth was spent fishing, clamming, and sailboat racing. As a teenager, he joined the war effort, at the Greenport Shipyard, which churned out World War II sub-chasers and minesweepers. His lifelong love of football (a NY Giants season ticket holder) stemmed from his own years as a defensive lineman for the Commodores of Flushing Meadows.

After graduation, Don enlisted and was sent to the Naval Air Base in Corpus Christi, where he taught survival swimming skills.

From there, Don attended Columbia’s night school while working days in the mailroom at IBM. He rose through the marketing and communications ranks at IBM, where he would meet his wife and love of his life, Sue Ferris of Bronxville, New York. Sue and Don would settle in Bronxville and summer at her family’s home in Madison. From there he could look straight across the Long Island Sound to his boyhood beaches on Long Island’s North Shore.

In the 1970s, Don and Sue, and their two daughters, Linda and Lauren, would move to Franklin Lakes, New Jersey and in the ‘80s, to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

But they never failed to return to Madison for summers. By 2002, Madison would become their year-round home.

Relentlessly social, Don found joy attending myriad cocktail parties where he was known to belt out a show tune, or at dinner dances at the Bronxville Field Club, Indian Trail Club, and the Madison Beach Club, where he was a coveted dance partner. He also headed up Team Sue, supporting his wife in her every pursuit of club tennis titles. He immersed himself in his daughters’ youth activities. He was known for creating elaborate children’s’ masquerade party costumes for his daughters and their friends. In 1969 he built a replica of Tuxis Island, under which Linda, Lauren, and pals and lurched down the masquerade runway.

In 2007, Don became VP of the Madison Art Society, giving him yet another avenue of friendships. In 2008, he founded the Madison Beach Club Art Show, where he took pleasure in showcasing the work of fellow local artists. The art show is now an annual tradition.

Don pursued his passion for painting in every town he lived in. He loved painting in groups, often interrupting the silence with a joke that forced everyone to take a “laughter break.”

Don’s one-liners also made their way onto the golf course, where his foursomes became known for “laughter muted only by club protocol” on the greens of Alpine, Hilton Head, and Madison.

In the last month of his life, he was still painting, and spent hours searching his vast selection of oils, for just the right shade of green. He never lost his touch.

Don was predeceased in death by Sue Ferris Trownsell, his wife of 51 years, and brother Charles Stanley Trownsell. He is survived by his twin sister Doris Trownsell Pinkham of Sykesville, Maryland; daughters Linda Lee Jackson of Wethersfield and Lauren Lee Watkins of Madison; grandchildren William (Nicole), Katie, Liam, Luke, and Jamie; and two great-grandsons.

A celebration of Don’s life will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 18, at the First Congregational Church of Madison.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Marrakech Disability Services of Woodbridge, or the First Congregational Church of Madison.

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