Donald Jason Forrester was born January 31, 1937, in Attleboro, Massachusetts. He
was the second child, after his brother Jim, of James Ronald and Adelaide Emily
(Jones) Forrester. The family grew up together in Mansfield, Massachusetts.
Don always loved animals and the outdoors. He received his B.S. and M.S. in wildlife
management and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of California at Davis, and he
eventually became a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of
Florida. He came to UF in 1969 and resided in Gainesville for the rest of his life, where
he raised his family and retired as a professor emeritus. A big part of his heart, though,
always belonged to the Mountain West and the State of Montana, which is where he
received his M.S. (at the University of Montana in Missoula) and where he met his wife
When Don first met Gabe in Missoula, he was a scientific atheist. Because of this,
Gabe initially rebuffed his request to go on a date. This affront prompted Don to read
the Bible in an effort to prove to Gabe that her faith was groundless. But the effect was
the opposite: Don found the Scriptures so compelling that he became a Christian, after
which he and Gabe began dating and got married. Don spent the rest of his life actively
living his faith, spearheading mission trips to Haiti through Creekside Community
Church in Gainesville and working at Gainesville Community Ministries to deliver food,
necessities and faith-filled encouragement to the poor.
Don and Gabe had three children: Nathan, Rebecca, and Mark, whom they raised in
the Christian faith and in whom they inculcated a love of the same Scripture that had
changed their lives. Don and Gabe were also exemplary in the care they provided for
Mark, who was born with severe special needs and who required constant care for the
rest of his life. Don continued to take care of Mark, even after Gabe’s passing in 2017,
until shortly before Mark’s passing in 2021. Right up until the end of his life at the age
of 86, Don remained active in ministries at Creekside, attending two different One
Another groups and a prayer meeting each week. He was and is loved by all who were
blessed to know him.
A memorial service will be held at 10:00 AM on Saturday, April 15, 2023, at Creekside
Community Church (2640 NW 39 th Ave., Gainesville, FL 32605). For those unable to make it in person, the memorial service can be viewed live here: https://youtube.com/
“Haiti Fund In Memory of Don Forrester,” which is a pull-down option in the “Fund”
window at this link: https://creekside.com/give
Dear Dr. Forrester,
After all of these years, it’s funny I still call you Dr. Forrester. I am a 56 year-old woman, and should just be able to call you Don. I am also a Professor, like you were.
But for me is a matter of respect and will always see you as my mentor. I will always consider you my first true mentor. I learned so much from you and from everyone else in your lab. Those were nice days, early 1990’s. So long along, but feels just like yesterday.
You cared so much about people. You had such a generous heart.
I am happy we talked last week. I m so happy I told you how much I loved you and always thought about you and my days in your lab.
Thank you again tor everything you did for me.
Don you and Gabe left a legacy to the younger generation of what a godly marriage looks like. Also how you cared for Mark is also remarkable. I was honored to go to Haiti with you in 2010 and could see your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ. My favorite memory was seaweed flying by not knowing it was you that threw it. Also seeing you body surf and experience your sense of humor come out that was not apparent on Sunday mornings at church. You will be missed but never forgotten..
Don made a significant impact on our family. He was an admirable example of love for his family, love for his Lord, love for other followers of Jesus Christ, and genuine love for individuals along his path. When Don talked with people, it was obvious that he thought they were important and that his offers of prayer were genuine. We will miss Papa Don. We celebrate his entry into heaven, and mourn with the family he left behind.