A Life Well Lived

Thomas Hobbes was an English political philosopher whose most famous quote is, “life is nasty, brutish, and short.” Henry David  Thoreau wrote, “most men live a life of quiet desperation.” It’s obvious they had never met someone like Don Small.

Don Small and his charming bride of 60 years, Jean, live together at Bell Trace Health and Living in Bloomington, Indiana. Don and Jean raised two girls and a boy together and now they are graced with 4 grandchildren. Dr. Small was in education for 40 years. He was a teacher, a principal, the executive director of the Indiana Association of School Principals and a professor of education at Indiana University. He was twice awarded the highest honor a civilian can achieve in Indiana, the Sagamore on the Wabash, he started a fund for Riley Children’s Hospital named Kids Caring and Sharing Fund, and he is a “funist.”

A very humble man, Don has many reasons to look back on his life and be proud, however he is not given to bragging. “I have been blessed with many opportunities to help and I’ve enjoyed every bit. The legacy I’m most proud of is the Riley Hospital Kids Caring and Sharing Fund,” he said.  The Kids Caring and Sharing Fund encourages students to give to others without expecting anything in return. Students around the state of Indiana have fundraisers and donate all proceeds to Riley Hospital. According their mission statement, “It’s proven that children who learn to give to others at an early age will continue to be philanthropically involved throughout their lives. Kids Caring & Sharing is a program that applies this philosophy to Indiana schools.” The Kids Caring and Sharing Fund has raised over $11 million since 1985.

When Don and Jean moved into Bell Trace they first lived in the Independent Living apartments. Don was Jean’s primary care giver. Don quickly joined the Creative Arts painting class. He had been a “dabbler” earlier in his life but hadn’t painted in 13 years. Don quickly made an impression with his work and his great attitude. “He has an infectious upbeat outlook that rubs off on everyone,” said Julie Hill, Life Enrichment Director of Bell Trace Senior Living.

Circumstances changed and Don and Jean moved to the Health and Living side of Bell Trace. Don continued to paint. In fact he has a portfolio of over 30 paintings he’s finished in this year alone. Don’s art work has always been well received and rightly so. In fact his art has been chosen to be printed on note cards that Bell Trace will sell. All the proceeds from the sale of the note cards will go to the Riley Hospital Kids Sharing and Caring Fund in perpetuity.

“I’ve have had an abundant life,” Don stated. “I don’t look for accolades, my family and my church, those are most important. I’ve painted in acrylics, oils, watercolors, and have done ceramics,” he told me, “but I say I’m not an artist, I’m a funist. I enjoy what I do, it’s an enjoyable relaxing experience for me.”

Don Small is one of the hundreds of residents that charm the halls of CarDon facilities around the state. To find out how CarDon can enrich your life, or the life of a loved one, contact us at (812) 332-2265, or follow the link to find a community near you.