Mourning a Friend

Submitted by Elisabeth on Tue, 06/14/2016 - 10:37am

News of Don Locke's passing is still incomprehensible to a community that drew strength from his loving spirit, his welcoming smile and his fierce commitment to social justice. Our heartfelt condolences to Don's wife Marjorie, his daughters and all who loved him. You can read his obituary here.

Don Lock with Lois Mufuka Martin in 2004Listing the varied and multiple roles Don held as an active volunteer, board member and committee chair for United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County would not come close to conveying the importance that his insight, wit, warmth and personality contributed to our world.  

Don was a long time member of the board between the years of 1997 and 2010 and chaired both the Community Fund and Strategic Planning Committees. In reflecting on his engagement and leadership, Don played an important role during two important Strategic Planning decisions:

  • Through a comprehensive and robust process, we initiated the first of a series of changes around how we invested community donations. Our goal was to ensure we were maximizing the impact of our funding and avoiding duplication. Looking back at those changes, the first in decades, we really did lay the foundation for where we are today; one that allowed us to move away from the idea of member agency status to one that emphasizes evolving partnerships that accomplish goals with people, and community change in mind.
  • Secondly, Don chaired the Strategic Planning Committee when we wrestled with our building and facility needs. He looked at our community needs assessments, community conversations and other reports with a very critical eye while evaluating decisions. At a time when "new" was in vogue, our board initiated a detailed plan and arrived at the decision to stay in our current location and build upon the strengths of what we owned. The final outcome was a much improved facility serving the needs of staff, clients and volunteers and no debt! This renovation allowed quite a number of nonprofits to have an affordable and comfortable home, and continued to place 50 S. French Broad as a hub for serving the community. Ten years later, we still celebrate this investment.

Don was committed to cultivating the next generation of leaders and served as a one of the presenters for our Community Stewardship program, teaching a session called "60 questions to ask before joining a nonprofit board".  Don also served as our representative to the board of United Way of North Carolina. This was not an easy responsibility, as there were differences in opinion in how the state organization saw its role in supporting local United Ways. Don firmly but tactfully shared our perspective. Today, the relationship between United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County and United Way of North Carolina has never been better.

Finally, a personal note, from Ron Katz, who worked especially closely with Don for many years: "He challenged everyone to think differently about the world around them, but he reached out to others in a way that also made so many feel comfortable. Our common “affliction” was dark chocolate. I always knew when he was in the building as he would come by my office with the excuse of wanting some of the Hershey’s kisses on my desk. I also knew it was his excuse to say hello to me. After a while, when I knew he was at a meeting in the building, I would take some of the chocolate to him. He always, and I mean always, greeted me with his big smile. I will miss Don greatly."

(pictured above: Don with Lois Mufuka Martin, United Way Community Fund director in 2004)

Memorial Service

Emmanuel Lutheran Church
Wednesday, Jun 15th 2016 1:00pm
51 Wilburn Place, Asheville, North Carolina, United States