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In Memory

Don "Mike" Michael Rotan

Don "Mike"Michael Rotan

April 29, 1942 - June 21, 2005

Don Mike Rotan, 64, died suddenly on June 21, 2005. He was born in Opportunity, WA and came to the Tri-Cities as a child. He attended the Richland School system, graduating in 1960 from the former Columbia Hi.

He was first employed at the Westinghouse HEDL operation in Richland where he served his technical apprenticeship. He went on to become a Master Craftsman and Tool & Die Machinist. He had a varied career that took him too many Western states including an extensive service with Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. on the Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline.

He enjoyed a challenge whether it was building a hot rod car, a single engine experimental air plane, or raising his daughter as a single parent. He became enchanted with the country and culture of Thailand. In his later years he divided his time between Thailand and the state of Washington. He was a man with few friends, but he would do anything for the friends he had. He will be missed.

He is survived by his wife of seven years Sumaree and his daughter from a previous marriage, Peggy.

He was preceded in death by his parents Kemp d. 1999 and Eunice d. 1994 of West Richland.

He is also survived by his three sisters and one brother of choice – Patricia and Susan of Washington, Karen and Benjamin of Alaska.

A private memorial is planned for family and friends on July 23, 2005. If you would like to attend, please call 943-4446.

From Sunset Gardens, Richland, WA

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01/31/17 07:36 AM #2    

Willard (Bill) Oftedal

I worked with Don in Valdez for many years. He was sort of hard to get to know but I considered him a good friend. I also had a tremendous respect for his knowledge and ability. He was by far the best machinist I've ever seen. If he said he could fix something you could be sure that he would. He will be badly missed.

01/31/17 08:35 AM #3    

Macey Shapiro

Don was a very interesting guy. Visited his home garage a few times to watch him work interesting projects such as his rebuild of an old Ariel Square Four motorcycle engine. I seem to remember we had a tanker broken down and the machine shop fabricated a monstrous drive shaft for the tanker which got them to their home port for proper repairs and saved alot of valuable down time they otherwise would have had waiting for the part. Sometime mid eighties. We were part pushing around 2 million bpd during that time period.

02/01/17 03:22 PM #4    

Brian Sterling

I am proud to be a friend of Don Rotan. He was an excellent craftsman and could make anything ask of him.

Alyeska in the mid 80,s would make a scale model of a Scraper Pig to give to retiring or transfering VP,s and

above. Don would make these and they are highly treasured. I know he made me one and brought it to my house

one night. Don is greatly missed by his friends.

Brian Sterling 

02/01/17 08:50 PM #5    

Mike Smulski

I didnt know Don but I was fortunate to have received one of those pig models on my retirement and I treasure it greatly, it is a true heirloom and a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Well done Don.

02/02/17 08:47 AM #6    

Bill Mace

I didn't know Mike, but I was presented with a model of the NKK Smart Pig when I left Alyeska in 1999.  It's a true work of the machinist's art and is routinely admired by visitors to my office.  Now I know who made it.  Thanks Mike.

02/03/17 10:55 AM #7    

Ben Holeman

I knew Don Rotan long before Alyeska Pipeline when  Don worked for Superior Machine & Welding in the late 60s where he repaired large boat propellers. Until Don showed up, all large boat propellers were sent to Seattle for repair, He built  grinding jigs and other tools  to "Make it Happen", saving local boat owners time & money. He repaired props up to 72X72".  His work was excellent was better than that done in Seattle. I also have  a "Rotan" pig. What a man !!  What a great man...

02/05/17 11:26 AM #8    

Bill Schnell

Don was a neighbor of mine.  I remember him launching his small air boat using a Datson B210.  He used to go Halibut fishing.  I also remember The machine shop in his garage.  He was an amazing person.

02/15/17 12:41 PM #9    

Bill Howitt

Yes, Don was an interesting guy and a great machinist.  I'm sitting here in southern Oregon looking at the pig he made for me when I left the Terminal in 1988.  Also still have the Halibut harpoon that he made.  It was well used in Valdez but don't have a lot of use for it here in Oregon.

04/29/22 08:51 AM #10    

Miles Duane France

It seems to me that the I&E&M shops at Valdez were full of the best troubleshooters and solvers. It was always fun to be around Don and his giant flare for perfection, and his stories dazzled me even today. Don lived at the end of my cul-de-sac and I was gifted to hear him tell many stories of amazement. Of the little airboat, he told me that he had found a lone hollow, on the sediments out front of Mineral Creek and he figured a huge halibut lived there, so following his instinct he located the depression and with the airboat fished there until he had caught that 254lb fish, well, maybe it was more. What fun it was to hear him tell of his adventures. We will all see him soon, goodbye for now.

Miles France

04/29/22 10:51 AM #11    

Christopher Bias (Bias)

I didn't know Don but always looked in awe at the NKK Pig models that were rare treasures for the few lucky individuals presented with them.. May he rest in peace knowing his jobs were well done...

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