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Donald Lee Crist | 93 | Bethalto

Donald Lee Crist, 93, died Jan. 13, 2023 in Bethalto, IL. He was born May 6, 1929 in St. Louis, to Walter C. and Leona M. (Barnett) Crist. He married Carolyn M. Gibson, and she preceded him in death March 16, 2022.As a young man, Don was first introduced to the broader world when he traveled by boat all the way to Korea to serve in the U.S. military. He often regaled his family with tales of that boat passing through New York harbor, which was quite an experience for a self-described farm boy from IL. Don remained proud of the work he did during that war, including his role in intercepting and deciphering coded messages.
After the war, Don was employed by the East Alton School District for many years as a teacher and principal. Don enjoyed instilling in students his own passion for history. He had a model airplane in the classroom he’d use to take students on imaginary journeys to learn about other cultures and he relished bringing to life for his students key events from the past.
Don was a loving father who was extraordinarily proud and supportive of his only child, Brian. Don was especially excited to work on craft projects with Brian, and they spent many happy days building winning Pinewood Derby cars. He also often shared with Brian his interest in the American Civil War and that zeal for historical knowledge inspired Brian to be a lifelong history buff as well. Don always did everything possible to support his son’s education and professional accomplishments and was delighted that Brian became an attorney, which was a career choice Don had seriously considered before becoming an educator.
Don had such tremendous love for his daughter-in-law Mallory and three grandchildren, Amalthea, Galatea and Lysander. Don remarked not long before his death how blessed he was to have such an extended family and how he hoped his grandchildren would always remember how deeply he loved them!
Don was married to Carolyn Crist for 50 years. They developed a deep bond over so many years of marriage and grew even closer during the past decade when both were retired. They navigated the vicissitudes of life together and found comfort and love in their half-century of marriage.
Surviving is his son, Brian (Mallory) Crist; three grandchildren, Amalthea, Galatea, and Lysander; a sister, Doris (Doug) Marti; and three nieces and nephews, Kevin Marti, Lydia Marti Porter and Alex Marti.
A funeral service was held Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 11 a.m. at the Rockbridge Methodist Church. Visitation was held from 10 a.m. until time of service. Burial followed at the Witt cemetery near Rockbridge. Memorials are suggested to the church. The Shields-Bishop Funeral Home is assisting the family. Please leave a memory or condolence at

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