J. Donald Monroe

j. monroe

Born in: Aberdeen, SC
Resided in: Hamden, CT

Don Monroe, 83, died peacefully on November 21, 2021 in Hamden, after a brief illness. Born and raised in Aberdeen, SD by the late Cecil and Grace Sherwood Monroe, Don was a high school track standout and attended SDSU on a full track scholarship before joining the army. After his two years of service, Don taught on the Rosebud Reservation, then finished his schooling at Northern State, studying English. While trying his hand at becoming a novelist at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Don met and married the love of his life, Virginia Grell, with whom he had two daughters, Shawnthea Monroe (Neil Mueller) and Kaia Monroe Rarick (Parrish). At Iowa, Don eventually found his calling and earned his Ph.D. in Special Education. After a four-year stint in the Oshkosh, WI public school system, he returned to South Dakota to take a professorship at USD where he stayed until his retirement in 2000 as a full professor. His 28 years of service to the university included founding the Southeast South Dakota Activity Center for special needs adults and a 15-year tenure as Associate Dean of the School of Education where he oversaw student teaching. Don also served the larger Vermillion, SD community on the School Board for 5 years, where he was also president. Upon retirement, Don and Virginia lived in Taiwan for two and a half years where they taught English to educators and traveled extensively. To his family and friends, Don will be remembered for his love of travel, his competitive gaming spirit, dedication to his family, and his raucous laugh. Don leaves behind his wife and partner in adventure of 57 years, his two adoring children, and 5 grandchildren, who dearly loved their “Opa.” A memorial service is being planned in South Dakota for a later time. Arrangements in care of Beecher & Bennett Funeral Home, Hamden.

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  1. Dr. Monroe served many with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Vermillion, especially in his work to support the beginning of the Southeast SD Activity Center, now known as Sesdac, Inc. The agency built a new home for six adults with disabilities in 2010 and that home is known as the “Monroe home” in honor of Dr. Monroe. Having known Dr. Monroe during our shared time at USD and also being a long-time employee at Sesdac, I wish his family our greatest sympathies. He was a wonderful man.

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