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Donald Mugan

January 23, 1946 - April 03, 2014


5-7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 8 with a prayer service at 7 p.m.at Boulger Funeral Home, Fargo.

Prayer Service:

7:00 p.m. Tuesday at Boulger Funeral Home.

Funeral Service:

Wednesday, April 9 at 2:00 p.m.  at Nativity Catholic Church, Fargo.


Riverside Cemetery, Fargo.


Boulger Funeral Home, Fargo.

Donald Mugan

January 23, 1946 - April 03, 2014


Donald Francis Mugan, age 68, of Fargo, N.D. died April 3, 2014, at his home surrounded by his family, after a two-year battle with ALS.

Don was born January 23, 1946 in Emmetsburg, Iowa to George F. Mugan and Marie M. (Domek) Mugan. After graduating from St. Mary’s High School, he attended Emmetsburg Junior College and Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial arts.

Don was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1968 and served in the Vietnam War. Upon his return, he married Patricia A. Zwiefel on September 5, 1970. They moved to Greeley, Colo., where he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Northern Colorado.

In 1973, Don accepted a teaching position at Valley City State University, Valley City, N.D. in the industrial arts department. He retired in 2012 as Director of the Great Plains STEM Education Center at VCSU after a 39-year career.

Don was known for his brilliant mind, generosity, humility, uncompromising work ethic, meticulous craftsmanship, and passion for inspiring learning.

He is survived by his wife, Pat; four children: Bridget (Mugan) and Brian Nielsen of Omaha, Neb.; Christa (Mugan) and Jared Crane of Fargo; Ryan Mugan and Kimberly (Buckley) of Grand Forks; and Alexander Mugan and Aubrey Neu of Fargo; and four grandchildren: Spencer and Teagan Nielsen; and Jada and Drew Crane. Don is also survived by his sister, Marilyn (Mugan) and Dave Holmes of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and niece Hillary Holmes of Ames, Iowa. He was preceded in death by his parents.


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0 responses to “Donald Mugan”

  1. Jean Ann Kliegl Kudrna says:

    Sioux City IowaWonderful classmate and friend. Never had a bad word to say about anyone. Enjoyed seeing him at a class reunion a few years ago. I am very sad to hear of his passing. I will keep him and his family in my prayers.

  2. Sharon Rankin says:

    Huber Heights OHDon,
    This is an Irish saying that Sam was fond of:
    May the road rise up to meet you
    May the wind be always at your back…
    And until we meet again
    May the Lord hold you
    In the palm of His hand.
    Pat and family, I am so grateful that we came to Don’s retirement dinner. You have always been more than friends you have been like family and more.
    All of the Rankin family sincerely extends their heartfelt sympathy and prayers. There are so few gentlemen as Don, who are such visionaries and have envisioned their dreams through hard work and patience. We love you all.

  3. Michael Tenuto says:

    Atlantic City New JerseyDonald was a good person and great teacher.It was a pleasure going to class and learning from him.He will be missed.
    Michael Tenuto

  4. gini and dave duval says:

    fargo ndPat, I was sorry to learn of the death of Donald. You have had several years of caring, illness and uncertainty to deal with. He is in God’s hands now. Dave and I are praying for you.
    gini duval

  5. Peder Gjovik says:

    Valley City ND
    I was blessed to have the opportunity to work with Don as a student and eventually as a colleague—through it all he was always my mentor. My entire educational and technical career has been impacted by the lessons learned under his guidance.

    When the news of Don’s passing surfaced at the first North Dakota
    STEM Network Summit this past week, numerous discussions centered around how his grand vision was the catalyst for the North Dakota
    STEM Network and the first Summit. Don saw a clear picture of the future—long before it was ever on our ‘radar’.

    Years ago I ran across this quote from Henry Adams, and Doc’s career embodied this statement: “A teacher affects eternity he can never tell where his influence stops”. It is now our turn to pass Don’s vision to the next generation of STEM teachers and leaders. His legacy lives on.

  6. John E. Hovda says:

    Valley City North Dakota
    I was a student of Dr. Mugan’s from the VCSU class of 1985. I was amazed at how he could stay cheerful most of the time when dealing with some of us. He was knowledgeable in many areas, I especially liked discussing old cars with him. I plan to donate to his scholarship fund at VCSU.

  7. Jason Dockter says:

    Ashley North Dakota
    Don Mugan was a great man and a strong leader in the area of Technology Education. He was my advisor and teacher, but more than that an encouraging and understanding human being. While I only knew Don for the past 10 years or so, one thing stood out and that was a drive to push STEM forward and change how we teach today’s students. I guess if I learned anything from Don is that real change requires a steadfast sticktoitness and the patience to see it through. Here is a person who was leading a monumental effort, far beyond what I could fathom, and yet he found time to help the beginning teacher and make that person feel as important as the at large initiatives he was spearheading. A great man who left his mark in such a positive way. My prays to the family.

  8. Gordon & VirLyn Hoff says:

    Valley City North Dakota
    Our sincerest thoughts for the family!

  9. Leslie (Skarloken) Olson says:

    Petersburg ND
    My thoughts and prayers are with the Mugan family through this difficult time. I had the privelege to have classes with Donald when I attended VCSU. He was an amazing teacher and mentor. Please find comfort that the memories you have of him will help in the healing process during this very difficult time.

  10. Tom Weber says:

    Fargo ND
    Don was a great teacher who lead his student with his quiet, patience ways. I enjoyed his classes and when I became a teacher I tryed to copy his teaching style. His leadership with Technology Education in the state provided us with direction and will leave a lasting mark. Don is one of the good ones.

  11. Peter Podlas says:

    Remsenburg New YorkI always said, “Don was the “face of Technology Education at VCSU, and what a wonderful “face” he was! I remember calling VCSU for the first time in 2009 inquiring about obtaining a masters degree in technology. The person who answered all my questions was Don. Don was always there to encourage me to keep the faith in dealing with the New York State Department of Education, a trial in its self. At the end of the conversation, I laugh now, but I remember Don asking me ” so we can get you started in May , are you ready to begin?” And the rest is history. Concludingly,rest assured Don leaves a legacy of ethical leadership and advocacy. I just loved the guy! I am so glad I was able to eventually meet him in person. I will miss him.

  12. Jeff Bloom says:

    Moorhead MN
    I am deeply sorry to hear of Don’s passing. He was one of my favorite college professors and we fast became friends outside of class. We shared an interest in old cars and would talk ‘shop’ often. I liked his classes and enthusiasm so much that I switched my major. The skills that I learned from Doc were instrumental in my professional vocations throughout my life. I’m so grateful for being able to spend some time with Doc recently and it touched me so much that he took the time to come and visit me at my restoration shop. I am mourning right alongside you all. It is truly amazing how someone can influence and change the course of your life. Thanks Doc.

  13. shawn Russell says:

    fort dodge IowaMy many thoughts and continuous prayers are with each of you at this very difficult time. Uncle Don was an amazing man! I LOVED my summer vacations to the wonderful home he and aunt Patsy built in Valley city -many special memories! Hugs to all of you!
    Love, Shawn Russell and family

  14. Jim Boe says:

    Valley City ND
    Don was able to accomplish many great things and his work will continue to impact the lives of others well into the future. I was fortunate to have his guidance as a student, colleague and friend. When Don was passionate and excited about something it was contagious. He had the ability to draw others in, get them excited and inspire them. He was also the type of person that put the success and recognition of others above his own. He was a very special person and will be missed.

  15. Teresa Cole says:

    Valley City ND
    Even though I worked with Don for a short period of time, he is and will be my mentor. I know that Don was looking forward to attending the first ND
    State STEM Network Summit where he could see his vision and mission coming to a reality. Don was the leader in bringing STEM to the campus of VCSU as well as to the State. I sure miss those Friday afternoon popcorn (dept) meetings. Rest in Peace Don.

  16. Leslie Myersnd son, Rivers says:

    Odessa NebraskaLove and hugs to a very special family. You guys have made me feel like a part of yours and for that, I am grateful. Don is free from pain now and can be his old self again. May God wrap you in peace and comfort. Love you ❤️

  17. Leo and Lou Domek says:

    Estherville Iowa Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.
    Remember all the good times.

    Leo and Lou

  18. Jaime Holoubek says:

    Omaha NEI am so sorry for your loss. Sending thoughts and prayers.

  19. Lynnette Roxburgh says:

    Gretna NEMy thoughts and prayers are with Bridget and her family. I am sure you were a blessing and a joy to him.

  20. Burt Crosswhite says:

    Ridgeland MSOh, Donald, never had another friend like you – and I loved you and your family so dearly. I will miss you and remember the many long days and nights we spent together trying to make life better for our families. God will take good care of you – of that I am certain.

    Bennie. B.

  21. Lana Fornes says:

    Lisbon ND
    The infectious nature of Don’s vision has often been referred to as drinking Don’s Kool-Aid. Those of us who have believed in his vision, have worked to promote it, and been energized by it, will continue on. As Ellen so eloquently stated above, much of Don’s vision has come to fruition and becomes his legacy to all of us and our continued work supporting his vision will advance his legacy for a long time to come. Those of us who have “drunk from the well” are also well aware that Don would say the perfect accompaniment to a glass of Kool-Aid, is a bowl of well-buttered popcorn! Cheers Don! You will be missed!

  22. Jan Morrison says:

    Cleveland Heights OhioI am so saddened by Don’s passing. He was a brilliant teacher, leader, innovator and partner in the ND
    STEM Network. he has brought STEM to the entire state of North Dakota
    and offered its children the promise of a brilliant future. He has been North Dakota
    ‘s shining star.

    Just much too early….

    Jan Morrison

  23. Ellen Chaffee says:

    Bismarck ND
    Don Mugan, quiet giant. His impact on a single university extended to all of its students yet to come, the university itself, many external organizations, and national attention on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). He was so far ahead of the pack, only his limitless patience and teaching talents may have saved him from utter frustration. He was so laser-focused on all the right pathways to the future that many of his “audacious” (to others) goals have been met or are underway. His VCSU credits include the first standards-based technology education program, the content/credibility to put support for a master’s degree over the top, the Great Plains STEM Center, the laptop initiative, digital portfolios, and millions of grant dollars. I am so very privileged to have had the opportunity to work with him. Both VCSU and I are far better for it.

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