Arlington Teacher Donald Diffenbaugh

The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., April 4, 2005

By Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb, Washington Post Staff Writer, Monday, April 4, 2005; Page B05

Donald Louis Diffenbaugh, 77, a teacher at Wakefield High School in Arlington for 33 years before retiring in 1987 and a musician who played in area dance bands, died March 9 at Inova Alexandria Hospital.  He had Parkinson's disease.

Dr. Diffenbaugh started at Wakefield in 1954 as an English and social studies teacher and spent a majority of his tenure teaching advanced placement government studies.   He was a member of the musicians union and later set up his own combo with students and teachers from Wakefield.

He played the saxophone and clarinet in several dance bands, including the Rhythm Rockets, the Harmoniers and the Sonny Hawthorn Band.  For about 20 years, he performed on weekends at the Nightingale and Hillbilly Heaven clubs in Alexandria.

Dr. Diffenbaugh, a native of Huntington, Indiana, graduated from high school in 1945 and enlisted in the Navy with his parents' signatures.  A week shy of turning 18, he was eager to join his two older brothers already serving in World War II.  He served with the Navy in the Philippines in the final months of the war.

He was a 1950 graduate of Huntington College in Indiana and received a master's in education from Indiana University in 1952.

He took a sabbatical leave from Wakefield in the early 1960s for a teaching fellowship at George Washington University, where he later received master's and doctoral degrees in philosophy.

After retiring, he attended dances, played tennis and went to garage sales and auctions. He refinished furniture, especially old trunks and frames. He worked with his son in contracting and construction and helped build two houses near Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

He lived in the Bailey Crossroads area of Fairfax County.

His marriage to Shelba Sutherland Diffenbaugh ended in divorce.

Survivors include two children, John S. Diffenbaugh of Bailey Crossroads and DeLee A. Yaukey of Germantown; two brothers; and a granddaughter.

This page was last modified 22 August 2012
2010-2012 Wakefield Class of 1960 and Wakefield H.S. Education Foundation (