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In memoriam

Goodbye to a crazy New Mexico cowboy

By Brenda Sawyer



It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Don Stover on July 16.

Up until his illness in late 2010, Don was a Construction Supervisor for the Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity and a Care-A-Vanner. In addition to participating in the construction of over 50 homes, he was instrumental in making Las Cruces the popular Care-A-Vanner site it has become.

While the location and availability of “free” RV sites were certainly a draw, what kept many people coming back was Don’s great way of teaching, that built confidence among even the most inexperienced of builders. I speak from experience. I had absolutely NO building experience when I attended my first Care-A-Vanner build in 2002. Don was a patient teacher, always giving us the opportunity to try something new and push ourselves a bit beyond our comfort zone. Never did I feel I could do less because I was “a girl”.

Always in a cowboy hat (who knew they made cowboy hat hard hats?) and starting the day with a rallying “ee-yah”, having Don on site meant things were going to get done, they were going to get done right, and everyone would have a job.

Even in his illness, which he knew he would not survive, he was a teacher. Anyone who followed his “Caring Bridge” page continued to learn from him. He and his wife, Elaine, shared their journey with many; the good days and the not-so-good days; his faith, decisions about his clinical trials and, ultimately, his decision to stop fighting.

Don took part in clinical trials in the treatment of pancreatic cancer not only in the hope of improving the quality and quantity of his life, but to provide whatever information he could to those researching his disease. It was only when his doctor’s assured him he had done his job and that there was no clinical need for him to continue in trials did he and Elaine make the decision to stop fighting and go on to his Heavenly Home.

I am grateful that my first experience with HFH Care-A-Vanners was with the Crazy New Mexico Cowboy and his Awesome Navigator. Our prayers and thoughts are with Elaine and the rest of his family.