Donald Howard Shiles, Sr., age 81, died on Monday, January 8, 2017 at 5:14 pm in his home. He was born on August 23, 1936 to Elmer Howard Shiles and Grace Frederica Shiles in Camden, New Jersey. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Gaylie Ann Shiles, and five of his children, Judy, Becky, Don, Ellie, and Robert as well as eleven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. His oldest child, Pat, passed away in 2014. He is also survived by his two younger brothers, Richard and Jerry. Finally, he is mourned by his faithful dog, Comet, who stayed by his side until the very end.
Don’s life story would rival any Hollywood epic. He grew up in the desert outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, where he and his two brothers rode the bus for hours to get to school. He was a cowboy at heart even though he only got to ride in one cattle drive. After graduating high school at 16 he had his own newspaper column and was a postal worker, an instructor in the National Guard, a bodyguard for Howard Hughes, a dynamite truck driver, a volunteer police officer, and rodeo cowboy.
He married his wife at the advanced age of 23 and, after the birth of their first four children (in four years), his National Guard unit was called up and he eventually transferred to active duty Army. In the Army he went to Officer Candidate School (OCS) and graduated fourth in his class. After commanding a missile base in Alaska he went to Vietnam for a year where he won the bronze star. He established a unique counter-intelligence school at Fort Meade after retiring from active duty in the Army. His career in the armed services continued until the age of 75, including a stint in Iraq at the age of 67.
He was a born teacher and had the intelligence and charm to succeed at whatever he attempted. He was an artist and a poet as well as a soldier and a spy. He invented the field of forensic locksmithing and was one of two founding members of the International Association of Investigative Locksmithing (IAIL.)
Don was active in the LDS church, serving in many leadership callings but also loved working with the children. He was as happy teaching three-year-olds to love their Savior as he was leading a congregation.
No matter what he did, he forged his own path.
Don was a loving son and father and he will be missed by those who knew him and loved him.