Doner; Warren Harold
Long-time Orillia resident, Warren Doner, passed peacefully on Sunday February 9, 2020, in his 93rd year. Beloved husband of Mary (nee Ferguson) for 62 years. Loving father of Luanne (Peter Finnegan), Brian (predeceased) (Sakura Torizuka), John (Sherri), Michael (Jacintha Wesselingh).
Warren’s greatest joy was spending time with his four children and his 11 grandchildren – Luanne (Michelle, Patrick & D’Arcy Finnegan), Brian (Nathan & Erika), John (Rebecca, Trevor, Jackson & Sam) and Michael (Warren Jr. & Tommy), always with sincere interest, sharing his own life experiences and wisdom , always with a twinkle in his eye.
Born in Brantford, Warren spent many of his primary years spent in a one room schoolhouse on the highway between Severn Bridge and Gravenhurst and high school in Gravenhurst and Windsor. He went on to University of Windsor to study Architecture. In 1950, Warren moved to the Washago area and started designing and building custom homes and cottages in the area. He married in 1957 and, with his new bride, Mary, a local Orillia girl, moved into a home he built on Maple Drive where they started their family.
In 1962, he built the Sundial Motor Inn. With no hotel or restaurant experience and a staff of 90 it boasted the first restaurant north of Toronto with a liquor license. It quickly became a landmark, where people on their way to and from Muskoka, or farther north, would often meet up or stay the night, and local families dined regularly. The Rotary Club also met there every Tuesday, which made it quite convenient for Warren to attend the meetings, including a stint as president.
In 1977, 5 local businessmen, including Warren, started Huronia Trust Company. It was a very ambitious and successful move with fierce competition and regulations. It grew to several branches in the area and then was sold to Manulife Financial after 19 successful years.
During the 70s and 80s, Warren took on several real estate projects in the Orillia area including subdivisions on the Severn River and Lake Couchiching (Couchiching Point and Heward’s Point, Sundial Drive, Brewery Lane condos).
In 1988, Warren became aware of a large acreage of virgin land surrounding a large lake near Sebright - Cranberry Lake! Warren and his business partner and son, Brian, went to great lengths with the MNR and local governments to convince them they had a great plan to both develop and protect the pristine environment. The result was just a few properties, all bound by a strict environmental development code.
In retirement, and Warren and Mary spent their summers at Cranberry Lake and many winters in Mexico where they were active in a program that sponsored and educated Mexican children. Warren was loved my many many friends and family. Although, being his friend was a particularly tough act to follow. He set a high bar. For example, one year he gave Mary a silver bell for her bedside table so she could ring it when she was ready for her morning coffee in bed!
Warren, as the family patriarch, was often found in serious conversations - talking and counselling - his grandchildren regarding life’s choices with wise gems like “follow your dreams – if they don’t work out, you can always move sideways” and “if you do not love your work, you will not be happy”.
Warren wasn’t a big talker but he was an amazing listener. He had an uncanny ability to insert witty one liners into conversations that resonated with everyone in the room. Warren will be greatly missed, but his legacy will live on through his family and those he touched. We were very blessed to have so much meaningful time with him.
Visitation will be held at Mundell’s Funeral Home in Orillia - 79 West Street North on Friday February 14th from 2-4pm and 7-9pm. The funeral will be at 1pm on Saturday February 15th, followed by a reception.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Soldier’s Memorial Hospital in Orillia would be greatly appreciated.