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Ohio University mourns the loss of distinguished alumnus Donald Voelker

Mechanical engineering alumnus Donald Voelker, a Cleveland native, passed away on Monday. Voelker served for two years in the United States Navy before attending Ohio University, graduating in 1952.

A skilled businessman and manufacturing industry leader, Voelker was inducted into the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology’s Academy of Distinguished Graduates in 1999 in recognition of his career in hydraulic systems manufacturing.

Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin says Voelker and his wife, Margaret or "Marge" as friends called her, were deeply devoted to each other and to the Russ College.

“Don was known for always wearing his Ohio University ball cap when he traveled. He claimed that he met more Ohio University alumni in airports over the years due to his cap being recognized than were at the University when he attended in the early 1950s,” Irwin said. “When I was 'growing up' at Ohio University in the eighties and early nineties, Don and Marge were a fixture –a very dynamic fixture – at Russ College events, and they befriended me during that time. We miss them both.”

After graduation, Voelker began this career as a sales engineer trainee for Hydraulic Equipment Company (now Hydreco). In 1957, he went to work for Parker Hannifin, where he designed and sold hydraulic systems for man-lifting devices, earthmoving equipment and farm equipment. In 1960, he launched D. H. Voelker and Associates, which served as a manufacturer’s agent for hydraulic equipment. He also co-founded Great Bend Industries, a hydraulic cylinder manufacturing facility in Kansas.

A stalwart Ohio University supporter, Voelker was a member of the Engineers Club and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity while in college. He is past president of the Ohio University Alumni Association Board of Directors and was chair of the Regional Phase of The Third Century Campaign. In 1995, he received the Alumni Association’s Medal of Merit and in 1999 was named Alumnus of the Year. Voelker served The Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees from 1992-2000, the Campaign Cabinet during The Bicentennial Campaign, and the Russ College Board of Visitors from 1989-2009.

“It is very saddening to hear of Don’s passing,” said fellow Russ College graduate and Foundation Board Trustee Charles Stuckey, who earned his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in 1966. “His sense of humor and repertoire of great stories and jokes always added to our meetings and events. He was a great Bobcat and a real credit to the Russ College.”

Voelker and his late wife, Margaret Spooner Voelker, established the Donald H. Voelker Engineering Scholarship for mechanical engineering students at Ohio University.

Services for Don Voelker are at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Atonement Lutheran Church in Overland Park, Kans. According to the family, in lieu of flowers donations can be made to The Ohio University Foundation with the Russ College of Engineering and Technology cited in the check memo space.