(May 26, 1954 - Oct. 16, 2016)
Reverend Donald J. “Don” Bleak, 62, passed away at the Powell Valley Health Care Center on October 16, 2016, after a lengthy illness.
Don was born in Thermopolis, WY on May 26, 1954, to Bonnie and Newt Bleak.
Don was raised with his 3 sisters and brother on the family property in Wind River Canyon. Don was involved in the FFA Chapter in Thermopolis for all 4 years of high school. He served every office in the local Chapter and was State President for one year. He was also named State Farmer in 1972 for his project on electrification of the barns, sheds, corrals, and grounds at his home in the canyon.
Don graduated from Hot Springs County High School in 1972. He attended Casper College for one year, worked for a period of time and returned to college at Judson Baptist College in Portland, OR.
He returned to Thermopolis and met and married his wife of 33 years, Laura Lea Hadaway Bleak. Together the couple has four sons and one daughter. He finished his undergraduate studies at Judson Baptist College in The Dalles, Oregon then enrolled at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and was ordained in Hardinsburg, Kentucky in 1988, where he held his first pastorate at Hites Run Baptist Church. The family resided in Hardinsburg for 10 years. Don was then called to pastor Immanuel Baptist Church in Havre, MT. He later was the Coordinator for the Food Bank and Transitional Housing Program in Havre.
Don dedicated his life to Christ at 18 years of age, and would often tell any and all who would listen that his decision to follow Christ was his best ever. Don will be remembered for his passion for Christ, his kind and gentle heart and understanding of human error, inconsistencies, and need for grace. He met people where they were and without judging, gave them unconditional love, strength, hope and courage to see the eternal in the midst of their struggles. He had a quirky sense of humor, an infectious grin, a joyous spirit, and loved his family.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Risen Son Southern Baptist Church in Thermopolis at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, October 22, 2016.
He is survived by his parents, Newt and Bonnie, his wife, Laura Lea, his daughter Kaitlin (Jeremiah) Miles, son Kory (Rylea) Bleak, Anthony (Deseree) Bleak, Robert Bleak, and Gavin Bleak, one granddaughter, Brooke Miles, and two grandsons, Blake Miles and Landon Bleak, his siblings, Doug (Margie) Bleak, Binnie (David) Murphree, Dava, and LaVita (Roger) Kraushaar, 14 nieces and nephews, numerous great and great-great nieces and nephews, uncles, aunts, and cousins.
Donations in Don's memory may be made to Samaritan's Purse.