Donald Carey

Age 79 of Ship Bottom; formerly a longtime Haddonfield resident

Flight DFCII departed this world on January 12th, 2024, dipping below the horizon and into a beautiful sunset over Long Beach Island. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother, and colleague.

Born and raised in suburban Chicago, Don graduated Loyola Academy Preparatory school in 1962, then traveled east to attend Villanova University. At a mixer with the young women from nearby Chestnut Hill College, he met Frances Gercke, and asked her to dance. She would eventually become his beloved wife of 55 years. After graduation, he entered United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant, then promptly went to flight school.  He flew the Douglass A-4 Skyhawk and Northrop F-5. Years later he was tickled to see his jets cast as the “bad guy” planes in the 1986 film Top Gun, earning even greater esteem from his sons, who finally began to see the obvious truth: their dad was cool. Don eventually transitioned away from aviation into the artillery, rising to the rank of Colonel and taking command of the 3rd battalion, 14th Marine Division. In the final years of his career in the USMC he designed and taught a course in leadership to non-commissioned officers.

While on active duty in the early 70s, Don was stationed at various bases in California and the southwest United States. Somewhere between Lubbock, TX and Yuma, AZ, he and Fran were introduced to the margarita, an avocation he perfected over the next 50 years.

Following active duty, but staying current in the reserves, Don spent the majority of his corporate career as an investment banker, with stops at Merrill Lynch, Philadelphia National Bank, First Fidelity, CoreStates, PNC, and Liberty Bank and Trust. He maintained a lifelong interest in banking, economics, sales, and management. It was also at PNB where a fellow Marine proposed him for membership at the Union League of Philadelphia, an institution he was part of for the next 47 years of his life. He merged his corporate and military endeavors- chairing the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (later MC-LEF), raising millions of dollars for the education of the children of fallen Marines.

Don loved sailing. He would spend whole days aboard the family’s 16 ft Hobie Cat catamaran, sailing his family and various nieces and nephews around the bays of Long Beach Island. A day on the water (no matter the weather) was a day well spent.

Later, when he and Fran purchased their own home on Long Beach Island, the prized Hobie Cat was always primed and ready to hit the water. A perfect day was an afternoon sailing and then margaritas on the deck for sunset. Unless it was skiing in Vermont, where he, Fran and the boys would eventually spend every Christmas, New Years, and Martin Luther King weekend for decades.

Don was perpetually upbeat- always up for a party, an adventure, a debate. He loved people and ideas, and loved discussing ideas with people. He would comically but patiently explain complex subjects to children, whether the intricacies of modern GPS to teenage girls or the problem with Soviet 5-year plans to 8-year-old boys. Or the battle of Gettysburg to Fran. Whether she stayed awake or not.

He was a wonderfully encouraging father. He made his sons’ interests his own without ever overtaking them. He thought what his boys were doing, whether wrestling or soccer or film making or golf- was “neat.” An accomplished athlete himself, Don ran multiple USMC marathons, LBI 18-milers, and picked up triathlons in his 60s. He competed in multiple “tri’s” over the years. Never long off the tee- he had excellent iron work, and always enjoyed a round at Tavistock.

When they both retired, Don traveled extensively with Fran and friends, from Ireland and England to the former Soviet bloc countries of eastern Europe to South America and points in between. Don always reveled in learning the history of places and delighted in discussions of geography informing a country’s destiny.

Don is survived by his wife of 55 years, Frances, sons Don and Glen, daughters-in laws Michele and Katherine, grandsons Ryan (20), Donovan (17) and Dean (7), as well as his brother Michael and wife Lisa, and sister Cameron and her husband Mark, and by extension, the hundreds of Marines he led, molded, and mentored over the years and who continue to defend this great country.

All are invited to Don’s Mass of Christian Burial on Thursday, January 18th, 10 AM, at St. Isidore Parish, Assumption Worship Site, 28 Monmouth Rd., Wrightstown, NJ 08562 and to Don’s Military interment at B.G. Wm. C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 350 Province Line Rd, Wrightstown, NJ 08562 at 11:30 AM.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in honor of Don may be made to Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center –  and/or Samaritan Center (Hospice) –