- About Us
Donovan Earl Oakleaf (June 7, 1942 to April 14, 2018), son of Dr. Donovan Carl Oakleaf, MD, and Etherl Marie Oakleaf of Healdsburg, CA. He is survived by his sisters Ruth Harrington of Ellensburg, WA, and Jeanie (Lee) Anderson of Willsonville, OR, and their families, and spouse Donna Oakleaf of River Pines, CA, and the children and grandchildren: Sarah (Eugene) Leong and Tea of Santa Cruz; Donovan Emmanuel Oakleaf of Honolulu, HI; Mary (Brent) Stewart, Karly and Piper of Placerville, CA; Jon Oakleaf of Carmichael; Sue (Allen) Chancey, Kaitlyn Sticlaru and David and Dahlia Chancey of Sacramento, CA; and many friends.
Growing up, Van and his family were active members of the Federated Church in Healdsburg, where choir director Smitty became Van’s idol. After graduating from high school in 1960, Van studied voice and church music at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. While a student, he sang in various churches in the area and was part of the world famous Westminster Choir College choir, which sang with major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic with Leonard Bernstein and the Philadelphia Orchestra with Eugene Ormandy. Van was part of the choir that sang with Marion Anderson to open the 1964 World’s Fair on Long Island, NY. During his student days, Van served various churches in the Princeton area and after graduation in 1964, served a church in Latrobe, PA.
During the Viet Nam War, Van enlisted in the US Army and served as a Chaplain’s Assistant, stationed in Long Bin Junction, Viet Nam. Returning home, he married college friend Donna Kowalczyk of Fort Wayne, IN, on December 10, 1966. The Oakleaf’s moved to Carmichael, CA, in July 1968 when Van accepted the position as Choir Director and Donna was Assistant Organist and Junior Choir Director. A few years later, Van purchased franchises for Chem-Dry Carpet Cleaning and enjoyed that business for several years. Later, he was a driver and then office staff for Brinks Security.
As the children were growing up, Van always made others, especially children, welcome in our home. The “closest 400 friends” were near-constant companions, especially as we gathered around our huge kitchen table at mealtime. We often had people staying with us as they made transitions in their lives. Our family went to church every time the church doors were open, and the many friends from church and the neighborhood made our lives rich. Even as Alzheimer’s progressed in Van’s life, he still loved his family and people around him. As the disease stripped him of everything and finally his life, what was inside shone like gold. He inspired all of us.
Mass in Van’s honor will be held at St. James Episcopal Church, 5th and L Streets, Lincoln, CA, at 1 pm on Saturday, May 26, 2018. Reception to follow.
1455 Response Rd #190, Sacramento CA 95815
St James Episcopal Church
1633, 479 L Street 95648, Lincoln CA 95648