Don was born in Port, Oklahoma on April 16, 1929 and moved to Southern California with his family in 1936 when his father could no longer find sustainable work. The family eventually settled in Ventura, with Don helping his father deliver furniture and appliances for Montgomery Ward before his parents decided to return to Oklahoma. Don wanted to finish high school and go to college so he remained in Ventura and lived at the Ventura Fire Station as a volunteer fireman in exchange for room and board. From his youth, Don was actively involved in the Boy Scouts, attaining Eagle Scout and later acting as Swim Director at Three Falls Scout Camp near Frazier Park before going on to develop advanced swimming and lifesaving programs. He graduated from Ventura High School and began classes at Ventura College before the draft interrupted his plans and he was sent to Korea. Don was quickly elevated to Master Sergeant, with his platoon responsible for reconnaissance and demolitions, which often put him behind enemy lines. When he returned home, he married Raquel Hernandez of Camarillo, whose father was Juan Camarillo’s property manager for years in the 1930’s and beyond. He completed his degree at UC Santa Barbara and was the first to graduate with a Physics degree from the (then) new campus in Goleta. He took a job teaching science and math at Simi High School soon after graduation and remained friends with many of his students, often being invited to class reunions for decades. Don later advanced his education at Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico becoming a nuclear physicist. In addition to New Mexico, his career took him to Manitoba (Canada), Pennsylvania and San Diego with his family in tow.
By the late 1990’s, Don and Raquel had decided to move back to her family ranch in Camarillo, built a dream home overlooking more than 6,000 lemon trees and settled into a comfortable retirement. Don loved being a rancher and Sunkist grower. He sat in his recliner overlooking his beloved lemon trees until his final day.
Don passed away on April 28, 2022 at his home. He was preceded in death by his wife, Raquel Latham, his sons Kent and Victor Thomas Latham, his brother Vernon Latham and his sister Betty Kemp. He leaves behind his sister Barbara Booher, his daughter Anna Walden and her husband Michael, son Brian Latham and his wife Carrie, son Paul Latham and his wife Suzi, son Kent’s widow Trudy Latham and lots of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
- A Life Well Lived -
A life well lived is a precious gift,
of hope and strength and grace,
from someone who has made our world
a brighter, better place.
It's filled with moments, sweet and sad
with smiles and sometimes tears,
with friendships formed and good times shared,
and laughter through the years.
A life well lived is a legacy,
of joy and pride and pleasure,
a living, lasting memory
our grateful heart's will treasure.
- Author Unknown
...Family in the care of Erin Arteaga, Funeral Director