Between the ages of 70 and 80, Donald Hitter went kayaking, snorkeling, tubing in river rapids, parasailing, wave running and trike riding around the coast of Hawaii.
He even made it into a skydiving suit before the instructor turned him away because he wasn’t able to bend into a certain position.
“He didn’t want to miss anything,” said his daughter, Marianne Hitter of Kure Beach, North Carolina. “He didn’t believe he was old. And he never understood why he was tired, why he couldn’t ride the waves like he used to.”
“When he was 70, my kids were younger, and we were teaching them to ski and he said, ‘I want to learn to ski,’ ” said his son, William Hitter of West Islip. “And he tried. He gave it his full effort.”
Donald E. Hitter, of Holbrook, died April 15 at age 90 of complications from COVID-19.
Hitter worked as a deliveryman for Bond Bread and Drakes Cakes until his retirement in 1994. He enjoyed the simple things in life — his family, church, neighborhood walks. He could often be found chatting with neighbors or cheering on the Yankees, and he had an affinity for thick chocolate shakes and potato pancakes with apple sauce and ketchup.
“His charm and the reason people loved him is that he was always delighted and enthusiastic and upbeat,” said his son, Thomas Hitter of upstate Schoharie. “He was just a really simple, good man; happy with his family and his life.”
His support and devotion to his family was ever-present. He made sure the family made routine trips to the beach, playing hide-and-seek and digging in the sand with his grandchildren. When his grandkids were younger, he hardly ever missed their sports events.
“He stood behind the umpire fence the entire game,” said his daughter, Irene Lazaroff of Floral Park. “He didn’t want to sit because he might miss something.”
In the same way, Hitter never missed a Yankees game, whether he listened on the radio, watched on television or visited the stadium with his family. He adored the team so much that when they won a playoff series or World Series, he would call each of his grandchildren and say “congratulations” as if they had personally assisted in the team's achievement.
“If he wasn’t wearing his Yankees hat, you could always find him in a Navy or Marine Corps cap, displaying his pride for his grandsons’ service to the country,” said his daughter, Lisa Hulse of Merrick.
Another of Hitter’s greatest loves next to his wife of 66 years, Dorothy, was dance. He never hesitated to ask a stranger to dance with him. He would often don bolo ties to attend dances across Long Island.
“He just inspired all of us with his attitude and his love of music, which we all shared,” said May Arlia of Little Neck, who used to drive him to dances. “He was such an asset to our group.”
Other survivors include his wife, Dorothy; nine grandchildren; and four great grandchildren.
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