Don Cesare, 92, the former Senior Resident Agent in the Colorado Springs bureau of the FBI, died April 6, 2023. He was a resident of Colorado Springs for more than 50 years.
He was born July 20, 1930, in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, a small town outside Scranton, to Primo and Edna Cesare. His father was the chief of police in the small town, and that inspired Don to pursue a career in law enforcement.
During his career, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, the Central Intelligence Agency and the FBI and not only witnessed but participated in some of the significant events of the 20th century.
Don is survived by his daughter, Ann Cesare; his son-in-law, Todd Laxson; grandsons, Nicholas and Luke; a brother, Carl; and sister, Marie.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Jan (Paripovich) Cesare; a son, Jon; and his parents.
Don’s remarkable life will be celebrated during a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m., Wednesday, April 19, at Divine Redeemer Catholic Church, 927 N. Logan Ave. Interment will follow at Pikes Peak National Cemetery.
Don enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve after graduating from Bloomsburg State College in Pennsylvania. He attended Officer Candidates School at Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia. His class was billeted to the FBI Academy, located on base.
While on active duty as an officer in the Marine Corps, he was assigned to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean where he had his first experience in law enforcement as a shore patrol officer.
In Blue, Gray, Black: My Service to Country, a memoir he penned later in life, Don wrote that his years in the Marine Corps brought discipline and maturity, and a strong desire to serve his country for the rest of his life.
Soon after completing active service with the Marine Corps, he applied to the Central Intelligence Agency. In the CIA, he served initially in Turkey as a security officer for the Agency’s high altitude aircraft reconnaissance program, the U-2. He was transferred to the CIA’s Far East Division as a paramilitary officer. In that role, he trained Tibetans to fight the Communist Chinese who had invaded their homeland. That training took place in the peaks and valleys of Camp Hale.
While training in the mountains, Don visited Fort Carson where he met Jan, his future wife, a proud Pueblo native who worked as an X-ray technician at the base hospital. They married March 3, 1962.
Early in 1963, Don applied to the FBI, and was appointed a special agent. His career with the bureau spanned 20 years.
He participated in the investigations of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and in the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi by the Ku Klux Klan.
On Nov. 22, 1963, the day the President Kennedy was assassinated, Don’s initial assignment was to the surveillance team observing the actions and contacts of Marina Oswald, the wife of Lee Harvey Oswald, who shot and killed the president.
In December 1964, Don was ordered by the FBI to report to a bureau in Mississippi. The murders of three civil rights workers the previous June and the recovery of their bodies six weeks later had attracted national attention. The case was made famous in the movie Mississippi Burning. Don was responsible for managing the FBI’s chief informant in the case, and evidence supplied by the informant destroyed the Klan’s empire in Mississippi.
In a January, 2020 story in the Colorado Springs Gazette, Don told a columnist that arriving in Mississippi at that time was like arriving on another planet. He saw segregation and widespread discrimination. He heard Martin Luther King Jr. quiet a crowd with words of love and peaceful protest. He described as “disgusting’’ and ‘’horrible’’ the sight of 40 to 50 members of the KKK walking in their white robes in broad daylight in Meridian, Mississippi.
He told the newspaper that no matter the year, it is always time to stand for equality.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” he told the columnist. “This is a great country. It’s got flaws and we work at these flaws continually. I am positive about the situation. But I know we can achieve a lot more, too.”
In the Spring of 1970, Don and Jan moved to Colorado Springs where Don worked in the local FBI office. He was responsible for 40 to 50 investigations on any given day during his tenure.
A devout Catholic, Don adored his family. He was a big fan of University of Colorado and Denver Broncos football. He was forever grateful for Cheyenne Village and the care they provided for his son, Jon.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at, 10:00AM, Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at Divine Redeemer Catholic Church, 927 North Logan Avenue, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80909. Interment with military honors will follow at, 12:00PM, at Pikes Peak National Cemetery, 10545 Drennan Road, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80925.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to Cheyenne Village, 6275 Lehman Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80918.
This Obituary Has 22 Condolences
CJ Moore10 Apr 2023
Ann – wrapping my arms around you and your family and sending much ❤️
Jeannie Porter10 Apr 2023
Ann, all of us at Cheyenne Village are in mourning with you.
Joyce Mannino10 Apr 2023
Dearest Ann, I am so sorry for the loss of your Dad. Don was a dear friend, to my husband, Tom Mannino and I. His love for his country and his family was like no other. His laughter was contagious and his smile lit up the room. He was a blessing to all. He will be dearly missed. May your happy memories fill the hole in your heart.
Jeannie Spring11 Apr 2023
With deepest sympathy to your family–Jeannie Spring and Garth Nicholls
Skip Ripley11 Apr 2023
So sorry to hear of Don’s passing. He was always a statesman and gentleman. He is in God’s arms now. ?
Anonymous11 Apr 2023
Had the pleasure of working and knowing Don during my years with CSPD. Rest in Peace.
Deb Miller12 Apr 2023
Ann, So sorry for you loss. Your Dad was an amazing person. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your family and friends. Love, Debbie
Anonymous12 Apr 2023
My heartfelt sympathy and warmest wished to you Ann, Todd and Nick and Luke. Bless each of you.
D'Arcy Cornell12 Apr 2023
My condolences go out to Don and his family. He was an extraordinary man of high ethic and moral values to his family and country. Rest in peace and may God Bless You! Thank You for everything you have done.
Harry Killa12 Apr 2023
I had the honor and pleasure of working with Don while I was a Detective with the Colorado Springs Police Department. We, and Agents assigned to Don, co-investigated many cases during those years. I always admired is professionalism, dedication to duty and his sense of humor.
A TRUE PATRIOT. God Speed, Don
Harry Killa, CSPD COMMANDER, Retired
Anonymous12 Apr 2023
Dear Ann and family,
My deepest condolences to you. Donny was our eldest first cousin and someone we looked up to ! He was also my little sister’s godfather and he looked so handsome in his Marine Uniform! I lived up the street from Primo and Edna and saw Donny a lot when he came ito Old Forge. He certainly was a shining example of a life well lived. May he rest in peace .
Mary Kay Lininger13 Apr 2023
Sincere condolences to Don’s family. I remember Donnie as one of our “older” cousins. Dad ((Leo) always spoke highly of him, and when Don passed through Detroit, Dad would make a point of meeting up with him for at least a quick visit. I am grateful to Donnie for later meeting up with my son, Richard, when Rich moved to Phoenix in the mid-90’s. Mary Kay
Judy Paulk15 Apr 2023
You may not remember me. Larry and I lived in an apartment next door to your parents. We had some wonderful times together. I will never forget your Dad’s strong voice. It took a while to realize what a softy he really was. Judy Paulk
David Paulk15 Apr 2023
Ann, you probably don’t remember me. I’m truly sorry and send my love and condolences.
Pamela Bender16 Apr 2023
MY DEEPEST SYMPATHY TO CARL, MARIE AND ALL OF DON’S FAMILY. BEING FROM OLD FORGE, WE ALWAYS REMEMBER HEARING OF HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND WERE PROUD TO HAVE KNOWN HIM.
Dan Burich16 Apr 2023
Todd – I was very sorry to hear of the passing of your father-in-law. He sounded like an incredible man and patriot. Our country lost a great man. May he rest in peace.
Above Par Mixed Couples League
Al Pfeifer17 Apr 2023
Worked with Don while I was a Special Agent with the Air Force OSI at Peterson AFB. A devout Catholic gentleman and top notch public servant. God bless.
Nadjie18 Apr 2023
Deepest sympathy and love to Ann, Carl, Marie and all of Donnie’s family at this sad time. He was always a kind and helpful cousin.
Marcella20 Apr 2023
Ann- no words. ❤️I know how much you loved your dad and how much he adored you, one of the most magnificent, extraordinary people I’ve ever known. I think the solace in all of this is what a remarkable legacy he’s leaving behind and what a life he lived, oh and what an amazing daughter he and Jan raised.❤️ I am better for having known your dad. Love you, marce #81
SHIRLEY STEWART21 Apr 2023
Ann, hoping you can find peace and happiness in the sweet memories that you were able to share with your dad. Sending hugs!
Anonymous5 May 2023
I am so sad to hear of Uncle Don’s passing. I loved him and have so many wonderful memories (and pictures) of he and Jan.
He will be missed terribly. I loved your choice of picture you used. Don always had a beautiful smile and a huge presence.
God bless him and your family. Our condolences.
Marianna Cutter5 May 2023
I am terribly sad to hear of Uncle Don’s passing. I can hardly believe he’s gone. He was always such a presence in life, and I loved he and Jan so much!
I have so many wonderful memories of them both throughout the years. I loved Don’s big personality, his smile and much more. He certainly made an impression on me and I’m a lucky person for having had you all in my life. If we could only go back and do it again……
God bless and love to you.