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Don was a ‘gift from God’

Dorothy ‘Bunny’ Bayliss says husband of 50 years was someone she knew to be special from the first time she met him.

April 09, 2008|By Sue Thoensen

Dorothy Bayliss was 10 years old the first time she saw the man she would marry.

He was 17-year-old Don Bayliss, a box boy at the Alpha Beta market located half a block from her home in Costa Mesa.

It was 1950. Dorothy, ponytail bobbing and dressed in blue jeans, would walk through the rural Costa Mesa neighborhood where people raised chickens and rabbits, to buy groceries for her mom at the local market.

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“Don was the new kid in town, but he was so personable, and he would always talk to me while he boxed my groceries,” Dorothy said. Six years later, their paths crossed again when she was introduced to Don at her sister and brother-in-law’s house.

Dorothy said she knew right away that he was “the one.”

“I had some casual dates before him, but nothing that ever attracted me. Don just really was a special person, and I can’t explain it. I told him right after we ‘re-met’ that he was my gift from God.”

Born on Easter Sunday, the only time Easter has ever landed on her birthday since, Dorothy was affectionately nicknamed “Bunny” by the man she began dating at 16, and married on Easter Sunday — April 6 — in 1958.

Last Saturday, a day before the 50th anniversary celebration he and Bunny had planned for close family and friends, Don died at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, where he was recovering from surgery for lung cancer.

Throughout his life, Bunny said, Don remained the personable, friendly, talkative guy she had met that day at the grocery store.

Both she and Don graduated from Newport Harbor High School, and the couple made their home in Costa Mesa, where Don built the house they’ve lived in since 1972.

“Don’s a people person, and there are a lot of guys that were his very close friends from high school on,” Bunny said.

Don didn’t want his wife to work, so Bunny was a stay-at-home mom until their two children, Rick and Brenda, were in school full time. Family was very important to Don, she said, an only child whose parents later divorced.

Don was an electrician, and Bunny worked for 31 years for the Newport-Mesa School District. It worked perfectly for their family, she said, because she was always off at the same time the kids were, especially during the summer.

Her husband was always close by too, Bunny said, coaching the kids in Little League or softball, and they were always surrounded by a large group of friends and family.

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