Donnie Caulk

Donnie Caulk

A child of God who went home too soon.

A loving person who would drop anything to help someone was how his sister, Linda, described Donnie. “He had a way about him that everyone who met him noticed,” she said. “He was also funny and enjoyed hanging out with family and friends.”

In terms of work, Donnie had the skills to do anything needed. He was often identified as a leader because of his strong work ethic and trustworthiness. “Donnie had an awesome ability to take apart electronics and put them back together correctly,” Linda said. Sometimes he took apart perfectly good gaming systems just to see if they would work again when he reassembled them. Donnie also loved to fish and enjoyed cooking.

Donnie’s sister recalls that Donnie could fall asleep anywhere. “He had the oddest way of falling asleep with his legs crisscrossed and bent forward, head hanging down.”

Donnie graduated from high school with the intention of going on to college, but hadn’t gotten to that point yet. Like the men in the family before him, he talked often about joining the military. At the time of his death, he was working as a crew leader for a landscaper.

Donnie was quiet about his relationships, but he had a longtime girlfriend in high school. Later, at the time of his loss, the family learned he may have a daughter who is now nine years old. Donnie was well loved by his parents, brother and sister and many close friends. They enjoy sharing meals together and telling funny stories of adventures with Donnie. After Donnie’s death, several people talked about what a positive influence Donnie was on them. He often prayed with people and supported them as they recovered from addiction. He was a kind person, and so well loved.

During his addiction, Donnie often isolated himself. He stole and once broke into a house, something so out of character for him. Before his death, Donnie was missing for two weeks. Linda was searching for him and contacting all his friends. It turned out that the state had his body and never notified his family.

Experiencing Donnie’s disease makes Linda more vigilant about those she cares for. She feels the need to know where people are and if she doesn’t hear from them; she feels sick with worry. She also treasures time with those she cares about, and intentionally makes more occasions for new memories, something she will not be able to do with Donnie.

Linda is committed to sharing their story with others. When she hears people talking negatively about those living with addiction, she is open and honest about her feelings and experiences. She said, “Addiction needs to be discussed so that people can get help, and better help needs to be provided.” She reflects that too many treatment centers and half-way houses are in business just to make money.

She misses Donnie’s smile, his laugh, and her brother coming into her apartment and checking to see if her trash needs to go out. “There is so much he didn’t get to experience,” she said.

Donald’s sister, Linda Schultz, provided the information for this narrative.

February 9, 1993-July 20, 2017-Age 24

Portrait Artist: Jeremy Hebbel

Narrative Writer: Barbara Francois

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