Don Roger Ortley

Don Roger Ortley finished his final portage on November 2, 2019, after living a full and rich life filled with adventure and nourished by a passion for the outdoors and water. Don is survived by his children, Barbara Jacobs (Randy), David (Lori Jo), Linnea Ortley- Yetter, Rebecca Haley (Joe); 12 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; his sister, Donna Bonello; and friend, Sara Gilliam.

Don was born on January 26, 1933, in Miami, Florida to Esther and Albin Ortley. He joined his older sister, Donna, and the two formed a life-long bond that persisted until his death.
The Ortleys eventually made their home in southwest Minneapolis near Minnehaha Creek and Lake Harriet. Don’s quest for adventure, and love and respect for the outdoors, was born in and around those woods and water, and served to shape the rest of his life as he raised his family and passed on to his children, and grandchildren, an appreciation for the outdoors and the satisfaction that comes from adventure. Don’s life-long passion was water, boats, and canoeing in the BWCA. Don enjoyed photography and he possessed an amazing ability to understand and repair all things mechanical and electrical.

While attending Mankato Teachers College, Don met and married Dixie Lundin. After graduating he taught industrial arts in Roseville, MN then electronics at Stout State University in Menomonie, WI. During the summer months Don and a close friend formed and operated Wilderness Classrooms - a business guiding canoe trips into the relatively undiscovered BWCA. While short lived, this summer adventure served to blaze a trail that would eventually lead Don home to the woods and water of northern Minnesota.

The call of adventure took the Ortleys to Malawi, Africa in 1966 where Don taught industrial arts at the Blantyre Polytechnic for three years. After an extended trip through Europe in a VW camper, the Ortleys returned to Menomonie where Don resumed teaching at Stout.
The Ortleys moved to Mankato in 1970, and Don joined Dixie’s family in the operation of Lundin Construction Company. As the Company grew, Don assumed operation of Central Concrete and Guaranteed Sand and Gravel. It was during this time that Don’s love of boats led to his purchase of Court’s Marine and the birth of Ortley Motor and Marine - an AMC/Jeep dealership that included Crestliner boats and Johnson motors.

In the early 1980s, Don returned to college where he studied Experiential Education. Soon after, he went to work for Outward Bound in Ely, MN, where he was an instructor and winter Program Director. This included dog sledding and canoe trips into the BWCA as well as cross country ski trips into Yellowstone National Park on behalf of the American Lung Association.

Don’s home for 25 years was his cabin on the shore of White Iron Lake in rural Ely. Over the years, Don welcomed his children and grandchildren and shared with them his love of the North Country, and the beauty and tranquility of White Iron Lake. For many years, he served on the White Iron Chain of Lakes Association, dedicating himself to monitoring of the health of the lake he loved. Don was also active in the Ely Kiwanis Club and Voyageur Winter Festival.

Our father, brother, uncle, grandfather, and great-grandfather will forever be remembered for his love of, and respect for, the natural beauty of the outdoors. His smile, the twinkle in his blue eyes, his mischievous nature, and his “can-do” attitude permeated every aspect of his life, and will forever live on in his children and theirs. Don is gone but his presence will not go unnoticed in the rustle of the falls leaves, the migration of ducks, the squeak of a cold winter snow, the spring “ice-out,” and the lap of water on the shore of the lake or the sound of the water on the keel of the boat.

He is preceded in death by his parents; wife, Dixie (Lundin) Ortley who passed away in August, 2018; son-in-law, Denny Yetter; and great-grandson Jase Jacobs.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will take place at 11:30 a.m. on November 15, 2019, at Northview-Mankato Mortuary; 2060 Commerce Drive, North Mankato. Don’s family will welcome visitors from 10:00 a.m. until the start of the service. Lunch at Northview will immediately follow the service.

Internment will take place in a private family gathering at Crystal Lake Cemetery in Minneapolis.

Memorials may be given to the Alzheimer's Association or donor’s choice.