Donald Ellsworth Warhurst was born, lived and died in California. He was handsome and smart and big and strong and quiet; a man of very few words. Like his Harrison ancestors, he was adventurous and had lots of children. Twice he piloted his cabin cruiser from Los Angeles to Alaska and back, in his 70's, with only his wife and her several cats as crew. He raised six daughters and three sons, and there's not a loser in the lot of them. His mother's mother was Myrtle Jane Harrison Masters. It was Myrtle who moved her family from the Midwest to Southern California. His mother, Lillian May Masters, married Ellsworth Harrison (no relation) Warhurst in 1914 in Long Beach, California. Don was born 29 July 1920. He grew up in inland Santa Ana, but spent his summers at Balboa Island on the Pacific Coast. The exercise he got from rowing his skiff every summer added a barrel chest to his over six foot tall frame. He held national records in track and was captain of his football team while in high school. A favorite memory of his childhood involved his two bulldogs and a sock. To see them pull against each other for hours tickled him immensely. Don eloped to marry his high school sweetheart a week after he turned 18. He married the then 18 year old Arlene Chloe Hoffman across the state line in Yuma, Arizona on 6 August 1938. As far as Don was to the silent side of normal, Arlene was to the talkative. This biographer's first meeting of the pair was memorable for Arlene's two-hour non-stop monologue punctuated by Don's infrequent asides to "leave the boy alone, Arlene." With his new wife in tow, Don attended the University of California at Berkeley. He was captain of their football team and earned degrees in Physical Education and Mathematics in 1943. In 1944, he enlisted in the Navy and served until 1946. He told of lucky break when a Japanese bomb went down the smokestack and out the bottom of the destroyer escort he served on, and didn't explode until it was far beneath the ship, lifting the ship out of the water, but not sinking it. During the attack he witnessed other destroyer escorts suddenly disappear, having exploded and leaving only small bits of debris. He also survived a typhoon that sank or damaged more American Navy vessels than in any naval battle in American history only because the repairs to that boiler caused it to be up and running giving them enough time to make it for deep water when the swells hit. The crew members lashed themselves to pillars, where they remained for three days as the ship was rocked by swells that tilted it on a 90 degree angle.
Don made his living coaching football. He started out at a few different high schools in California, and then became the winningest coach in the history of Cal Poly's football program. Later he was Cal Poly's Athletic Director and taught backpacking. Like his forefathers Joseph, Ephraim and Bazel Harrison, Don Warhurst liked to get away from civilization. Every summer he would take his family to spend three months at the 7,000 foot high Tuolomne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. They slept in tents and supplemented their meals with the fish they caught, hiked miles every day to the lakes where they caught those fish, and outwitted bears to keep those fish. This high quality family time, however, endeared this man to his children. Don was a very principled man. He did not always like the system, but he always made the best of it. He never complained or spoke ill of anyone, and was vehemently loyal to his wife of 63 years. In an obituary for Don Warhurst, a friend of his was quoted as saying, "He was lots of fun, a real clean guy, but a lot of fun."
This web page is authored by Scott Duncan. All information listed without a reference should be verified. Any additions, questions, or comments should be sent to:
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids