PROFILE OF A MUSEUM VOLUNTEER
Don Luft was born in the German town area of Fresno, California 8/24/1936. His parents Bert and Katherine Luft were first generation Americans of Russian-German decent. A younger brother, Ken was born three years later; making the family complete.
Don attended Kirk Grammar, Edison Jr. High and Roosevelt High Schools; graduating in 1954. He lettered in track, shot put, disc, and also enjoyed playing the trumpet in the RHS band. At 16 Don worked after school doing warehouse work for Electrical Suppliers. He studied at Fresno City College, then went on to Fresno State where he earned his Associates degree in business and electrical engineering. Don joined the Army National Guard and was with the 185th - 49th Division, controlling riots along with flood clean up and restoration. His division was also involved in Fresno's various civic activities. During the Berlin crisis he served at Platoon Headquarters as Sgt. 1st Class and after 9 years, was honorably discharged in January, 1962.
Don met his wife Claudia, who was attending as a guest at a board meeting of the Fresno Trade Club. The family has two children, Donna and David who both earned Masters degrees and are teachers in Madera. They've been blessed with a grandson Derek, and 3 great granddaughters.
Don is on the Board of Directors of the Fresno Trade Club and at Twilight Haven. He has served as Governor of SIRS, President of Kiwanis and the Elks. He also enjoyed lecturing for the American Legion and the Navy League. Don worked 20 years as a lighting engineer for GTE Sylvania. During this time he taught Industrial lighting design and technology at Fresno State. He joined Van Gas and was Director of Marketing 5 years for the 13 western states and Alaska. In retirement Don has enjoyed helping in various positions of the Funeral business.
Don and Claudia enjoyed traveling and had the opportunity of meeting several Presidents and Statesmen; including George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Ted Kennedy, Alan Shepard and Dan Quayle. They also look forward to spending 3 weeks a year in Hawaii.
Don came to the Veterans Memorial Museum after learning the need for help from his lifelong friend, Museum Director Bob Specht. He found he enjoyed the camaraderie of the military connected staff and docents, whom he loves to visit with and share tall tales. Recognizing the museum's need of funding, Don has also been active in promotion and in several successful fundraising efforts.