Donel James Criswell, 83

Donel James Criswell, 83, of Indianapolis, formerly Greensburg, passed away on April 21, 2024. He was born on May 27, 1940, in Monticello, Indiana as the son of Catherine Winnifred Criswell and Maurice Douglas Criswell. Survivors include daughters, Shelley (Ron) Mathis, Indianapolis, Lisa Criswell, Westfield and Julie Criswell, Carmel; son, Scott (Jane) Criswell, Saint Charles, MO; grandchildren, Lynn Criswell, and Grant Criswell; and sister Dori Dooley.  He was preceded in death by his father Maurice Criswell, mother Catherine Criswell, brother Larry Criswell, and wife Linda Criswell.

Don was a 1958 graduate of Monticello High School where he was an exceptional athlete in football, basketball, and track and helped earn a Sweet Sixteen tournament spot for the Indians in 1957; his time in Monticello included a love for Indiana Beach managing the Skyroom and being an Indiana Beach Ski Show member with his elite waterski skills. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana where he was an Alpha Tau Omega fraternity member and participated in the Little 500 bicycle race. His love of football would continue at Indiana University as a walk-on and a long, successful coaching career after graduation.

He married Linda (Meyer) Criswell on July 31, 1965; Don was a dedicated husband, father, teacher, football coach, IHSAA basketball referee, realtor, and school administrator.  His love for mentoring and coaching student-athletes was a hallmark of his persona. A man of principle who always had a plan for winning, he dedicated a career to growing young adults into community leaders.

Don’s remarkable coaching career includes assistant or head coaching jobs highlighted at Silver Lake Schools, Meredosia Schools (IL), Connersville, Ben Davis, Milan, Mitchell, and West Vigo.

Don received his Master’s Degree at Butler University to further his ability to impact students on a broader level than athletics.  His first administrative position was as Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at North Decatur Jr.-Sr. High School in Greensburg, IN in 1980.  Later, he was promoted to North Decatur’s Principal known for his passion for developing future leaders, earning Indiana High School Administrator of the Year, and his colorful wardrobe. He wrapped up his career as Principal at East Central High School in St. Leon, Indiana investing 46 years in education.

Don enjoyed fishing, boating, waterskiing, golf, attending Indiana University athletic events, and Indianapolis Colts games. He loved spending time with his grandchildren and traveling to Florida and Myrtle Beach.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday, April 25, 2024, at 2:00 pm at Gilliland-Howe Funeral Home and can be accessed live on the Funeral Home Facebook Page. Chaplain Mike Fields will be officiating.

A reception-styled (no line) visitation for the family and friends will follow until 7:00 PM.

A private burial service for Don’s family will be held on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Riverview Cemetery in Monticello. Memorial contributions can be made to North Decatur High School in memory of Don Criswell for a future scholarship recipient.