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Elon – Donald "Don" Ray Bentzel, 75, passed away on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 at Alamance Regional Medical Center. A native of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, he was born to the late Harry and Elise Bentzel.
Don grew up in the Pennsylvania Amish area before faithfully serving in the US Marine Corps from 1968- 1974. While in the Marines, Don was stationed at Cherry Point, NC. He was part of the Marine Composite Reconnaissance Squadron 2. Being in North Carolina gave him opportunities to visit with family in the Greensboro area quite often. When he left the Marines, he had earned the rank of Sergeant (E-5). Don eventually moved to Florida to work as a Chef with Disney and EPCOT (Rose & Crown Pub and Monsieur Paul Restaurant) or many years before retiring. He loved Florida, so he secured a job with QUEST, an agency that worked with children who suffered from AIDS. This particular job brought him much joy as he helped these children to have a “normal” life while experiencing severe sickness. During this time, he also became a clown, entertaining the children at QUEST and in surrounding communities. Don moved to the Altamahaw area in March, 2021, to be close to his North Carolina family. He enjoyed being a part of all the activity that entails a family. We all loved Don, as we called him. However later in life, he preferred to be called “Doni Ray.” Whether “Don” or “Doni Ray,” he was the life of the party whenever he was around.
Don was an avid and quite accomplished photographer. His love for photography was nurtured by his father, who dabbled in the hobby himself. Don studied photography at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, where he earned his Associates Degree in Photography. This degree furthered his service in the Marines. He became an Avionics Technician and an AVIA Photo Elec Tech while serving his country. Don also loved to cook! He was always looking for the latest delicious dessert or for a “new” way to cook a steak. All of us loved eating whatever he would “throw together” at the least mention of hunger.
Don was always the life of the party. He was a master story-teller, embellishing whatever the story, whomever the subject, and however the outcome. Some of our best memories are those around the food table – no matter the meal – laughing until we cried at his version of a story about one of us. When he would visit during his Marine days, he would always bring one of his buddies with him. On those weekends, we played “war” with Don and his buddy. Don and his chosen partner always won. We girls were always with the buddy, having a wonderful time but never winning.
Don was preceded in death by his parents, all of his aunts and uncles, and several of his first cousins. He is survived by first cousins: James DeBoe, Jr. of Dugspur, Virginia, Joel DeBoe of Danville, Virginia, and David Hilliard, Darin Hilliard, and June Kreider all of Manheim, Pennsylvania. His local family survives him: Cynthia (David) Laws Cox, Daryl (Heather) Laws, and Kimberly Laws Bray. Additionally, he leaves behind several second cousins.
The family will have a memorial service to celebrate his life in Pennsylvania at a later date.
You may send condolences online at www.lowefuneralhome.com.