Lifelong Sussex County resident Donald Wilgus, 87, the firstborn child of William Franklin Wilgus and Zada Catherine Wilgus, passed from this world early in the morning of July 19, 2021. He was born on Nov. 18, 1933.

“Always one who naturally drew affection from those he spent time with, it’s hard to think that our memories of him will be enough to sustain us in his absence,” the family said. “It was often said that he would give someone the shirt off his back; and he probably would have, to the consternation of his family. In life we need money to live, but he was always one to have a soft heart and help others as he was able.”

For those who really knew him, Wilgus was a patriotic American. He vigorously supported the cause of liberty; rather than simply talk about it, as so many others who passively accept whatever occurs.

Learning to drive very young in life apparently greatly influenced his outlook about cars and what fun they could be. Many nights, William Wilgus would sit outside their home next to Lord Baltimore Elementary School, waiting for Donald to return after an evening of drag racing with friends. William had reason to be concerned, because in addition to racing, Donald had been guilty of driving one of his father’s new Oldsmobiles into the Assawoman Canal and failing to let his father know.

Many other similar activities could be related, but after marrying Jane Snyder in 1955 and starting a family 10 months later, responsibilities began to mold him into a responsible husband and father. “That process of maturing took a greater step forward when he accepted Jesus as his Savior, clothing himself with Jesus in baptism as Galatians 3:26-27 explains. This response of faith then prompted him to begin making decisions from a Christian prospective, for which his survivors are eternally grateful.”

Working with his parents and siblings in the family bowling alley on Second Street in Bethany Beach, and years later with his brother Gerald at Wilgus Associates, and still later developing Cripple Creek Golf Course were some of the avenues he pursued while alive. “However, his jobs only tell what he did, rather than who he was. It will be up to his offspring to continue to tell his story.”

Wilgus was preceded in death by his wife of 65 years (minus a month), Jane Snyder Wilgus. “He and Jane were so much in love one can only think her recent death on May 29 led to his heart attack.” He and Jane had three children, Gregg (and Hannah Joy), D. Page and Dawn Cordeaux (and Larry). Gregg and Hannah Wilgus have five children and 11 grandchildren; Dawn and Larry Cordeaux have two daughters and six grandchildren; and Page has two sons; giving Donald and Jane Wilgus nine grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren, all of whom feel this great loss.

Friends and family may gather on Thursday, July 22, 2021, from 3 to 5 p.m. for a visitation at the Ocean View Chapel of Melson Funeral Services, 38040 Muddy Neck Road, Ocean View. A funeral service to celebrate his life will begin at 5 p.m. that day. A message of hope and promise will be shared by Gregg Wilgus. In lieu of flowers, the family suggested memorial contributions in Donald Wilgus’ name be made to the Church of Christ, 52 West Avenue, Ocean View, DE 19970. Condolences may be sent online by visiting