Valley Falls, NY After a valiant battle with cancer: a soldier, teacher, healer, Donald J. Piper, Jr., aged 75, died on June 5th at Albany Medical Center Hospital as he lived -- with grit, courage and fearless spirit. Raised in the rugged Adirondacks of northern New York, Don was a remarkable man in full who spent a lifetime in service to country and community. In the Vietnam conflict he served as a medic in the U.S. Army Special Forces becoming an honored and decorated veteran. He continued his service in The National Guard, traveling the world and rising to the rank of Major before retirement. For many years he was the beloved Biology teacher at Hoosic Valley Central School who kept a classroom of “critters” he took care of when school was in or out. Always wanting to do and learn more, he went back to school for a new career to participate in healing as a Physician’s Assistant in Cardiology. Don was an outdoorsman through and through, a skilled fisherman and hunter, and prize-winning marksman with rifle and bow; he was a good and kind, quiet man with deep reverence for life, gentleness for all creatures, love for the mystery and adventure of living. He was always there to help anyone who needed him, friend or stranger. He is survived by his loving, devoted wife, Barbara; her siblings, Catherine Chestara and John Chestara; mother-in-law, Gladys B. Chestara; niece, Christina, and her husband, Eric Kerr, with children Alana and Aiden; together with his faithful dog, Zoie, and a wide circle of friends whose lives he touched including Glenn Streeter. With the last embrace from those who loved him, his earthly mission done: this mighty soul took flight. According to his final wishes his remains will be cremated, and inurned at Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, in a private ceremony, at a future date. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Don’s memory to the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, 3 Oakland Avenue, Menands, NY 12204.