Donald M. Stonestrom, 88, engineering executive

Donald Myron Stonestrom, 88, a retired engineering executive and community activist, died Wednesday, Feb. 29, of inclusion body myositis, a degenerative muscular disease, at Wellington Hall, a retirement residence in West Chester.

In 1951, Mr. Stonestrom joined the explosives division of Atlas Powder Co., which was later acquired by Imperial Chemical Industries America. While with ICI, he was responsible for six patents, including one for a bank-security device. The device, placed in a bag with currency stolen by robbers, would explode into tear gas and stain the bills, his son Eric said.

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Donald M. Stonestrom

Mr. Stonestrom retired in 1985 as development director of ICI's aerospace division in Valley Forge. He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

A longtime Westtown resident, Mr. Stonestrom served on the Westtown-Thornbury school board, was chairman of the Westtown Planning Commission, and was vice chairman of the West Chester Area Joint School Authority. He was past president of the West Chester Rotary Club, was a member of the Chester County Historical Society, and sang with the Westtown School Community Chorus and in the West Chester United Methodist Church choir.

A native of North Dakota, Mr. Stonestrom served in the Army Air Forces as a navigator during World War II. He flew 17 combat missions from his base in England and participated in the D-Day invasion.

After his discharge as a captain, he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of North Dakota in 1948 and took graduate courses at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Before joining Atlas, he was an engineer for General Electric Co. in Schenectady, N.Y. He and his future wife, Barbara James, met at GE, where she worked. They married in 1949.

A dedicated runner before the sport was popular, Mr. Stonestrom ran daily for almost 25 years, his son said. He became a mountain climber after the age of 40 and was a member of the Highpointers Club - climbing the highest points in all of the lower 48 states. He was a member of the Horseshoe Trail Club, hiking the entire trail in Pennsylvania. He also climbed the Matterhorn and other mountains in Switzerland and Austria.

Mr. Stonestrom was an honorary member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the British Officers Club.

Besides his wife and son, he is survived by sons Peter and David; a sister; and five grandchildren.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 4, at West Chester United Methodist Church, 129 S. High St., West Chester, Pa. 19382.

Donations may be made to the church's music program.

 


Contact Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.