Upon meeting Don Storrs, people enjoyed his infectious smile and skill at making people laugh. Those who got to know him also appreciated his vision, tenacity and business sense.
Raising Special Kids recently lost a longtime leader, supporter, mentor and friend. Last July, Don Storrs passed away in his sleep at age 70. Both Don and his wife Peggy served Raising Special Kids in many capacities for decades.
Don and Peggy met in high school in Colorado and would have celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary on February 7, 2021. Their son Sean, born three months prematurely in 1970, received a cerebral palsy diagnosis in the Denver Children’s NICU. The family moved to Phoenix in 1976.
Sean attended school in the Washington Elementary School District and Thunderbird High School before attending Arizona State University. After years of physical therapy and orthopedic surgeries, Sean decided to focus on life instead of learning to walk, using a lightweight wheelchair the family affectionately dubbed “The Lamborghini.” Sean now works at ASU as Constituents Communications Coordinator for President Michael Crow. He owns a condo and has traveled around the world.
Don and Peggy started as parent leaders for Pilot Parents, which evolved into Raising Special Kids. Don became the first president of the organization’s board of directors. Peggy joined the staff initially starting as office manager and became known as “the voice of Pilot Parents.” Peggy served in many other staff roles including IT manager. When the Storrs started serving, Raising Special Kids had 12 trained parent volunteers and served 25 families. Upon Peggy’s retirement in 2017, Raising Special Kids had over 300 parent-to-parent volunteers serving more than 600 parents and professionals.
A florist by trade, Don worked for Valleywide Florists as a designer and store manager before its expansion. Don then managed Metro Center Florists which later became 1-800-FLOWERS. He was district manager in Arizona and Texas. He also owned a flower shop in Glendale before retiring. Throughout his career, Don was active in the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and was voted Small Business Owner of the year.
Those who served with Don recall their time with him fondly as an encouraging leader and a good friend, husband and father. This includes Betsy Trombino, coordinator of the original Pilot Parents group; Mary Slaughter, former Raising Special Kids executive director; and Chuck Smith, who later chaired the Raising Special Kids Board of Directors. They all tribute Don for his solid base of wisdom and leadership for the growing organization over many years.
In their personal time, Don and Peggy enjoyed bicycling together. They took a cruise and bicycled on three different Caribbean islands. They even had a chance encounter with members of the Cuban Olympic cycling team, Peggy noted. These cyclists pushed some of the slower riders from the cruise group up a steep hill while riding behind them and putting their hands in the middle of their backs.
Don Storrs touched many lives over the years with his sense of humor, leadership and care for others, and he will truly be missed.
Donations may be made in Don’s memory to Raising Special Kids.