Donald (Don) Frederick Erat, 81, of Scranton, formerly of Potomac, MD, passed peacefully in the early morning of August 1, 2016 in his home, surrounded by family.
Born in New Milford, PA, on September 18, 1934, Don was the only child of the late Adam and Ruth Powers Erat. He spoke often and fondly of his idyllic childhood growing up in a small town. Don would ride with the town’s postman to visit his grandmother’s farm in the country on weekends and tapped the maple trees along Main Street for syrup. He received his Associate of Arts from Keystone College in 1954, where he played catcher on the school’s baseball team, and was a proud member of the Sigma Pi fraternity. He continued his studies at Lycoming College, earning a Bachelor of Arts in business in 1956.
While at Keystone College, he met and fell in love with his wife, Ada Merollini, and they married in Peckville, PA in October, 1957. Don served his country as a member of the U.S. Army during the Korean War; he earned an honorable discharge following his service in Aberdeen, MD. After the Army, Don joined IBM where he was a member of the division that developed and deployed the technology supporting our country’s fledgling aerospace program, including the Apollo rocket missions; Skylab, our nation’s first space station; and NASA's space shuttle fleet. After retiring from IBM, Don worked with several start-up companies seeking to develop private rocket launch vehicles.
Don was the kindest and gentlest of men, always ready with a funny quip, a smile for all, and endearing nicknames for those closest to his heart. Above all, he cherished his family and was respected and liked by all who knew him. He was generous with his time and known for his resourcefulness. Family and neighbors could count on Don to respond to any request for help—no appeal was too great or an imposition. He coached his son’s Little League baseball team for many years and was active with the Boy Scouts through his grandsons. He was an avid and lifelong fan of the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Orioles, and cherished his annual hunting outings with his son and cousins. Don was a resident of Maryland for more than 50 years, where he was a member of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, Rockville, MD, and Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Parish, Potomac, MD, before returning to Scranton in 2011.
Don is survived by his beloved wife and best friend of 58 years, Ada Marie Merollini Erat; their son, David Erat and his wife, Dr. Victoria Erat; their daughter, Donna Erat and her wife, Jennifer Barnes Erat; and two adored grandsons, Adam Erat and Chase Erat. He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins, including Gerina Gaffney (Joe), Carol Gorczyk, Patrick McMahon (Kristie), and members of the Merollini, Lamb, and Powers families. In addition to his parents, Don was preceded in death by his father- and mother-in-law, Alfredo and Olga Mascelli Merollini.
The family would like to thank the aides, nurses, and doctors at AseraCare Hospice for their kindness, care, and compassion during Don’s illness.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, September 24, 2016, with a mass of Christian burial at 9:30 a.m. at St. Paul’s Parish, Scranton. Interment will follow at Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery, Carbondale.
Memorial donations may be made in memory of Don to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
Arrangements are under the care and direction of Margotta Funeral Homes. For directions or online condolences please visit: margottafuneralhomes.com.
Don was dearly loved and will be missed by all those blessed to have known the grace of his company.