Donald Byron Eklund
Donald Byron Eklund 95 yrs old of Gresham Oregon passed away on 2/19/2021 in Gresham, Oregon after succumbing to a degenerative lung and heart disease. He is survived by his best friend & wife of 73+ years Marie Duerst Eklund. Daughters: Le'Ann (Don) Marjama & Marsha (Mike) O'Hara; Daughter-in-law: Linda Eklund & preceded in death by son Nick Eklund: 7 Grandchildren: Jason(Nita), Micah(Marie) & Jeremy O'Hara; Ryan (Marissa), Brad (Jodi), Tim (Marla) Marjama, Sally(Von) Freese & 16 Great Grandchildren. Don was born in Portland, Oregon on January 22, 1926 to Elmer & Maude Eklund of Haley, Oregon. He attended Orient grade school and Gresham high school, at 17 he joined the US Navy & served in World War II as a navy gunners mate. After his Navy discharge he married Marie Duerst
on November 7, 1947 at Bethel Baptist church in
Gresham, OR. Don was employed by International Harvester as a mechanic however in 1951 he decided to try
his hand at farming in Boring, OR on the Welling Farm. He specialized in strawberries, raspberries and miscellaneous crops. He was on the board of The Gresham Berry Growers. Farming lead he and a good friend to invent and fabricate products under the patent of E-Z Roll Carriers, an added sideline. In 1968 Don's entrepreneurship, love of good food and people lead him to follow a dream of opening a restaurant. Thus building Heidi's Restaurant a Swiss Chalet on Highway 26 between Sandy & Gresham.
Heidi's became a local favorite and continued to grow into Heidi's Swiss Village, a destination and icon in the area. It boasted excellent food, service, gift shops, bakery, live accordion music and Heidi's Train which Don fabricated & ran throughout the Swiss Village, giving rides to young & old. Don's continued drive lead him, along with his wonderful helpmate Marie to purchase a new location in Gresham. This allowed the gradual expansion & growth to a 300 seat capacity, gift shop, bakery and banquet facility all of which still exists today. The Eklund's just sold this local favorite in 2020 to a faithful employee who is like a daughter. Linda Henshaw had worked side by side with them since she was 15. Don's 53 year love affair & success with Heidi's Restaurant was always attributed to hard work, his wonderful staff, faithful customers, family & friends. Not to mention, Don's love of meandering
through the restaurant, greeting and thanking each
customer that helped them achieve their success. A life well lived of a hard-working, kind and generous man who knew Jesus and is at home abiding in Heaven.