EAU CLAIRE—Donald M. Brill, 95, of Wisconsin Veterans Home—Chippewa Falls passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, with his wife faithfully at his side. He was born in Dunn County, Wis., Sept. 8, 1922, to John and Grace (Mayo) Brill.
In 1942, Don was drafted and was selected for engineering studies with the U. S. Army Scholar Training Program (ASTP). However, in late 1943, ASTP was disbanded. Don was a sharp shooter and assigned to rifle infantry regiments. As a Private First Class, he served the entire war with the 301st Infantry Regiment (94th infantry), earning many awards including two Bronze Stars, four battle stars, six medals, unit commendations, and several combat infantry awards. In 2015, he was knighted by France, receiving its highest award—the French Legion of Honor—for his service to help liberate France.
Don thanked the Lord for many miraculous survivals during the war. He kept his Bible with him with Psalm 91 bookmarked, and he prayed a lot. His regiment went through four to five replacements per position, yet, against great odds, Don survived the entire duration.
Don completed his bachelor’s degree at UW-Stout (1947) and his master’s degree at the University of Minnesota (1949). He married the love of his life, Meredith Wright of Eau Claire, Wis., in 1955; they moved to Madison in 1958 and raised a family of four children. He earned a PhD at UW-Madison (1973). His work from 1958 through the 1970s included designing and establishing Wisconsin’s Vocational Technical and Adult Colleges, making current-technology training accessible to all.
He lived with difficult memories and flashbacks and never forgot the “real heroes”—those left in the cemeteries of Europe. The destruction of so many brilliant ASTP students in combat always grieved him. He wrote, “Who is there to remember them except those who fought with them?”
Don is survived by his wife of 62 years, Meredith, who was always there for him as he healed from the war; son, John (Debby) Brill; three daughters, Rebecca (Glenn) McClintock, Linda (Brad) Hubbard and Susan Brill; plus, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. Don was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Richard; sisters, Margaret McCullough and Grace Miriam Klefstad; and grandson, Scott McClintock.
Don lived the example he taught—love and respect for the Lord and others. He embraced other cultures, hosting international students, studying foreign languages, and loving and mentoring four adopted grandchildren from other cultures. Don lived a life of service, love, integrity, and sacrifice.