April 18, 2019
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MOUNT DESERT – Donald Blun Straus, 91, an influential leader in education, conflict resolution and population control, died peacefully Sept. 3, 2007, at his home. Mr. Straus was born June 28, 1916, in Middletown, N.J., the son of Percy and Edith Abraham Straus. Percy Straus was president of R.H. Macy’s landmark New York store, founded by Donald’s grandfather, Isidor. Isidor and Ida Straus died on the Titanic after they allowed others to take their places in a lifeboat. Mr. Straus graduated from Harvard University in 1938 and earned his master of business administration degree in 1940 from Harvard. He and Elizabeth Allen were married Sept. 7, 1940. He was a member of the Century Association, the Knickerbocker Club, the Harvard Club of New York City and the Pot and Kettle Club of Bar Harbor. Mr. Straus served at various times as executive director of the labor relations panel of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, vice president of the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York, president of the American Arbitration Association, a consultant to the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis and a member of the New York Board of Mediation. He served as chairman of the board of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and on the boards of the International Council of Commercial Arbitration, the Population Resources Commission, the Society of Human Ecology, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Institute for Advanced Study and College of the Atlantic. Mr. Straus was an early advocate of non-adversarial conflict resolution and of online computer conferencing and online education and referendums. He taught an online course in Democracy in the 21st Century for Connected Education. Mr. Straus and his wife, the former Elizabeth Allen, lived in New York City for many years and summered at their home at the head of Somes Sound. Mr. Straus was an intrepid, daring sailor, often exploring shallow gunk holes in search of remote anchorages. He and Beth often cruised along the Maine coast in their cutter, Sea Otter, alone and with friends and family. In later years, they eventually turned to a twin-diesel lobster boat and to a 12-foot Herreshoff sloop, Pinniped. When not cruising, he and Beth would row their dinghy together in perfect synchronicity on Somes Sound. Mr. Straus loved to reminisce about his sailing life, such as crossing the Atlantic and the Pacific as an undergraduate and cruising in the Baltic with friends. One of his favorite stories was his unsuccessful effort to conceal from Beth that he had run the Sea Otter aground near Castine and had had to wait for the incoming tide to refloat her. Another early passion was flying and Mr. Straus flew his own plane cross-country to California to propose to Beth. Mr. Straus is survived by his beloved wife of 67 years, Beth; their three children, sons, David and wife, Patricia, and Robert; their daughter, Sara Byruck and husband, Marcus, all of Cambridge, Mass.; David and Patricia’s two daughters, Sara Farrer and her husband, Luke Farrer, and their two children, Emma and Toby, and Rebecca Straus; Rob’s two children, Lisa and Drew; and Sara and Marcus’ two children, Mischa and Chloe. He was predeceased by his son Robert’s wife, Sheryl Foti. A memorial ceremony will be announced. Arrangements by Jordan-Fernald, 1140 Main St., Mount Desert. Condolences may be expressed on line at www.jordanfernald.com

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