Donald C. Nason, 63, of Haverhill, MA, formerly of Ipswich, MA, passed away peacefully on Sunday March 7, 2021 with several of his closest friends by his side. Donald was born on August 21, 1957 in Ipswich to Virginia and Clyde Nason. As their only child he was raised as the center of their family, and with loving care that helped Donald to flourish and gave him the confidence to live a full and happy life in the face of the many stereotypes and barriers often placed upon those with Down Syndrome. Donald was raised in Ipswich where he attended school and he enjoyed for several years his job at Conley’s Drug Store in Ipswich. In his youth, Donald became a well known and beloved playmate to many and taught his childhood friends how to love unconditionally and to be strong advocates for inclusion and justice.
In 1983, Donald helped to found the L’Arche Irenicon community (now known as L’Arche Boston North) in a house on the grounds of the LaSalette shrine in Ipswich. The community was a pioneering experiment in bringing people with and without disabilities together to live as family and it is today part of the international federation of L’Arche that numbers over 150 communities in 38 different countries. Over the years, the community that Donald started blossomed to four homes in Haverhill and has opened its doors to hundreds of people to live and work alongside Donald and his companions for a time to discover the L’Arche ‘way of the heart’, which fosters a culture of belonging and the celebration of human diversity. From the community’s inception, Donald insisted that this mission was an important path to peace in our world and he dedicated his life to keeping this mission vibrant.
To his last day, Donald remained a central and steadying ‘founding father’ in the community he helped bring to life, and innumerable people around the world remember Donald as one of their foremost teachers of the wisdom of the heart. Donald taught such lessons with immense and particularly creative good humor, a deep and prayerful faith in God that he nurtured through the spiritual life of the L’Arche community and St. Patrick’s Church in Groveland, and often to the tune of his favorite Johnny Cash or Elvis album. Donald loved to travel to visit with friends, to recount old stories and escapades, and to watch Western movies from the 50’s and 60’s while sipping an ice-cold Coke. Donald will be dearly missed by his many friends in L’Arche, both locally and around the world, and friends from Haverhill and Ipswich, including the LaSalette Faith Community.
Donald was predeceased by his mother, Virginia S. Nason and his father Clyde A. Nason, who both owned and operated an interior decorating and antique business at Lord’s Square in Ipswich for many years.
Donald is survived by his cousins: Robert Sensensey of North Potomac, MD, William Sensensey of Charlemont, MA, David Sensensey of Summerville, SC, Patricia Sensensey of Chester, VT and Bess Nason of John’s Island, SC. Donald also leaves behind the Kim family of Haverhill, Joe, Jiyoung, Ellie and Hannah, long-time friends with whom he recently lived.
A funeral service and burial was held privately. Memorial contributions may be made in Donald’s name to: L’Arche Boston North 53 Wingate St., P.O. Box 1177 Haverhill, MA 01832. Arrangements are under the direction of the Morris Funeral Home 45 North Main St., Ipswich, MA 01938. To send a letter of condolence please go to: MorrisFH.com .