Donald H. Rimbey
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Donald H. Rimbey
  • December 9, 1924 - September 8, 2017
  • Temple Terrace, Florida

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Dr. Donald H. Rimbey, age 92, passed away September 8, 2017 at Brookdale Lutz Assisted Living after a long accomplished life.



Dr. Rimbey is survived by his wife of 67 years, Doris Rusch Rimbey; seven children, Sandra Alpaugh, Brad Rimbey, Scott (Irena) Rimbey, Terry Lemke, Val (Jerry) Barnett, Grant (Susan) Rimbey, and Jodi (Joseph) Vizzi. He also leaves behind ten grandchildren, Ashlee (Rodney) Henderson, Mandy (Jared) Morrisey, Aaron (Cassandra) de l'Etoile, Monique de l'Etoile, Roshelle (Jay) Grove, Nicholas Lemke, Andrew Vizzi, Stefani Vizzi, Pierce Rimbey, and Addison Rimbey. He also leaves behind three great-grandchildren, Tyler Henderson, Colby Day, and Olive de l'Etoile. Don was pre-deceased by his brother Bill (Ellie) Rimbey, and his sister Helen Palmer.



Don was born to Keith and Laura Rimbey on December 9, 1924 in St. Augustine, FL. His ancestors first came to Florida to homestead the Indian River area just after the Civil War. He was of German and Scottish ancestry and his ancestral connections to the Scottish Clan Campbell, and Revolutionary War General William Campbell - "The Hero of the Battle of Kings Mountain", were a source of great pride throughout his life.



Don graduated from Hinsdale High School (Illinois) in 1942. After graduation he enlisted in the Army Air Corps on his eighteenth birthday thus carrying on the Rimbey family tradition of military service that began with the Revolutionary War. Don flew 25 missions as a radio operator and waist gunner on a B-24D Liberator heavy bomber in the 15th Force, 454th Bombardment Group, 739th Bomb Squadron which was stationed at San Giovanni airfield near Cerignola in southern Italy.



Don and his squadron engaged in long range strategic bombardment of Nazi military, industrial and transportation targets. He participated in the famous low-level bombing missions of the synthetic oil refineries at Ploesti, Rumania, as well as missions over the oil refineries at Blechhammer, Germany, the marshalling yards at Munich, Germany, and the oil facilities at Regensburg, Germany, to name a few. These missions helped prepare the way for, and supported, "D-Day", the invasion of Southern France. His bomb group received two Presidential Unit Citations, the Air Medal with oak leaf clusters, and the Mediterranean Theater of Operations medal. Don was interviewed by the Veterans History Project for the Library of Congress regarding his WW2 experiences.



After being honorably discharged as a Technical Sergeant from the Army Air Corps in 1945, Don "viewed the G.I. Bill as a golden opportunity to get a college education". Starting at Haverford College, he studied and later became a professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; eventually receiving his Doctorate in 1967. Upon receiving his Doctorate, Dr. Rimbey became a professor at the newly created University of South Florida, Tampa in 1967 and was instrumental in setting up the fledgling Department of Mechanical Engineering at USF.



In 1978, Dr. Rimbey started the successful engineering consulting firm of "Rimbey, Howell, and Rimbey, Inc. Consulting Engineers" in which he was president, founder, and CEO. He estimated he testified as an engineering expert witness in 250 court cases and gave sworn depositions in 2,000 cases prior to his retirement from the firm. After his retirement he and wife Doris attended 454th Bombardment Group Association reunion functions, traveled internationally, and attended over 150 Elderhostel programs.



"Courageous, cerebral and intensely committed to the wellbeing of his family" is how Don was described in a 2014 Tampa Tribune article. In the article Don states that "it became clear to me that growing up in the Great Depression era of the 1930s had a definite impact on my adult life. For one thing, I developed a strong work ethic. In addition, I am conservative in most things that I do. Certainly, I tend to outline my priorities and my goals and work as hard as possible to achieve them". In the article, Don credits his maternal grandmother, who emigrated from Germany by herself in the mid-1880s, for instilling in him the importance of getting a good education. "She told me it was one thing that no one could take away from you." As a tribute to that ethic all seven of Don's children, and many of his grandchildren, have college degrees.



The family wishes to thank the staff at Brookdale Lutz Assisted Living and the Hospice "Teal" Team for their compassionate care of our dad. In lieu of flowers please donate to the Wounded Warriors Project at https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org.



Services will be held Sunday, September 17 at 3pm at the Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church; he will be interred at the Florida National Cemetery at Bushnell.