Cover photo for Donald Oscar Crotteau's Obituary
Donald Oscar Crotteau Profile Photo
1925 Donald 2024

Donald Oscar Crotteau

January 24, 1925 — February 17, 2024

Donald O. “Bud” Crotteau, passed away on February 17, 2024, at his residence in Gloucester, Virginia, following a brief illness. Born in Wood County Wisconsin on January 24, 1924, he was 99 years old.  He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Dorothy (LeMay), his parents, and all his siblings.  He is survived by his daughters; Donna and her husband Bill Brandl of Gloucester, Virginia, Patricia “Patti” and her husband Bob Tomlinson of Mosinee, Wisconsin and Calabash, North Carolina, and Nancy Crotteau and her partner Jeff Rose of Chapparal, New Mexico; grandchildren, Krista Brandl, John Brandl, Mary Beth Andrzejczak (JP), and Jeff Tomlinson; great-granddaughter, Samantha Cole (Will); grandsons, Ben Griego, Ryan Brandl, and Mason Andrzejczak; and great greatgrandchildren, Adeline, Nolan and Walker Cole.

Bud lived an extraordinary life.  He retired from the United States Army in 1965 and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in 1981.  In 2019, at age 94, he retired from SA Tech, Inc., a government contractor, in Oro Grande, New Mexico.  He moved back to Wisconsin and lived with his daughter Patti, and then to Virginia where he lived with his daughter Donna before moving into a senior living community, Gloucester House, in June of 2023.

Bud joined the Navy in 1942 at age 17 and served on the USS Thomas J. Gary (DE 326) as a gunnery mate, eventually being promoted to Chief Petty Officer (NCO) before being assigned to the USS Brownson (DD 868) just before the end of WWII in 1945. His convoy escort voyages included many trips to North Africa, Italy, England, and the North Atlantic in search of German U Boats. He was chosen to serve in the Naval Honor Guard for the funeral of FDR. He was discharged from the Navy in 1946.

He reenlisted with the US Army in 1947 as an Artillery Sergeant and spent a brief time in Hawaii, before being sent to Fort Richardson, Alaska, in 1948 at the start of the Cold War as Russian aggression was anticipated. He eventually was retrained as an Explosives Ordinance Disposal (EOD) NCO and spent time in Germany, New Mexico, and Korea. While in Germany he was assigned to a squad that defused a 1000-pound British bomb that had been dropped at Hitler’s home in Berchtesgaden. Upon his return to the United States, he was trained in nuclear weapons and assigned to the Nuclear Accident Response Team at Sandia Base, in Albuquerque, NM. He participated in many of the early nuclear weapons’ tests in the Nevada Desert and was often sent around the world whenever there was need to defuse nuclear weapons after accidents. He was once tasked with the recovery of the plutonium core from an unarmed bomb dropped by accident at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM. His last post was as Army Advisor to the Kansas National Guard in Norton, Kansas, as an Ammunitions NCO. He retired as an E8 Master Sergeant.

In Wisconsin, Bud joined the Department of Natural Resources as a forest fire fighter, driving heavy equipment to furrow around active fires. He worked for several straight days on the Five Mile Tower fire in Minong that consumed 13,000 acres and 63 buildings.

After retirement from the DNR, Bud moved to Oro Grande, New Mexico, and worked at the White Sands Missile Range as a master parachute rigger for jet engine drones.  These aircraft pulled heavy cables and targets for anti-aircraft training and practice. Once fuel was expended, a parachute deployed to bring the drone back to earth.  A parachute used for this purpose took 24 hours to pack. Often the aircraft landed in bombing ranges containing unexploded ordinance.  His EOD experience served him well in the recovery of these aircraft. He never lost an aircraft due to a parachute failure.

For almost 35 years, Bud spent a week each summer fishing on Glitter Lake in Ontario, Canada, accompanied by family members (including in-laws, grandchildren, and great grandchildren) and friends.  Appropriately, he usually caught the biggest Northern including once landing a 45-inch Northern Pike. He was 90 years old when he made his last trip.

A celebration of Bud’s Life will take place at the Church of the Visitation in Topping, Virginia, on Saturday April 13th at 10:00 AM.  A Memorial Service is planned at St. Philips Catholic Church in Rudolph, Wisconsin, early this Summer. In lieu of flowers or other gifts please consider donating to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Endangered Resources Fund, in Madison WI. The link is:

And please add a note that your gift is in memory of Donald Crotteau with your donation.

Faulkner Funeral Homes, Bristow-Faulkner Chapel, Saluda, Va., is assisting the family.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donald Oscar Crotteau, please visit our flower store.


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