Distinguished Alumnus
Class of 2015
Don Paul Portugal

AHS Class of 1969

Don was born March 23, 1951, to John “Jack” and Ellamae Portugal. His older sisters Colette (1965) and Mary Kay (1967) were also AHS graduates. He was one of the top student athletes in Arcola High School history. Not only was Don the class Valedictorian, he was involved in National Honor Society and a 4-year member of the football, basketball and track teams. He excelled in basketball. By 1969, his 1,692 points ranked him first on the AHS scoring list with a 3-year average of over 21 points per game. Don pulled down over 1,200 rebounds, which is most likely a school record. Don lists highlights as winning 20 or more games 3 years in a row, along with 3 Okaw Valley titles. This remains the only time these two feats were accomplished in AHS history. The three year record was 68-15. For 3 consecutive years, Don was team MVP and a member the All Area Team in both the Decatur and Champaign newspapers. Don gives much credit to his coaches and teammates, saying the Class of 1969 was one of the most talented ever at AHS. He cites the fact that they won 17 straight basketball games against Tuscola from junior high through high school. They were undefeated Okaw Valley football conference champions, as well as winning the basketball and track titles as seniors - an Okaw Valley Conference Triple Crown. In 1991, Don was inducted into the Illinois High School Hall of Fame for his accomplishments at Arcola High School.

Don received a full NCAA basketball scholarship to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. On September 9, 1972, while at SIU, Don married his high school sweetheart, Carol Walker. As a 3-year varsity letterman at SIU, he completed his degree with high honors in accounting in 1973. Don was the recipient of the SIU scholar athlete award for his excellence in the classroom and as a basketball player. Following graduation, Don passed his CPA exam and was employed with the accounting firm of Peat, Marwick and Mitchell in Decatur.

In 1978, Don was hired by Carl Stacey to work at S&K Air Power. During his years with S&K Air Power he was controller, executive vice president and president. In 1989, Don and his high school classmate, Gary Stacey, purchased the company from Gary’s dad Carl Stacey. For the past 25 years, Don has owned the company and provided jobs and careers for over 50 people.

Involvement in community, as taught to him by his mother, has been important to Don. He has spent years coaching youth baseball and basketball. He has served as president and board member for both the Mattoon YMCA and Mattoon Country Club, a board member for Babe Ruth baseball, Lakeland College and Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital. Don also received the Lakeland College Distinguished Service Award. In addition, Don and Carol have been most generous in their financial support of the Mattoon community.

Don names several people who were influential in his success: Carl Stacey, as a great mentor, boss and friend, Tim Monahan, for his positive advice, Tom and Mary Monahan, for their sense of strong family values and community, along with Pat Sullivan, who was his coach while a senior in high school. Other than his parents and wife Carol, Don says the person who had the greatest effect on his life was Dean Sanders. Dean was his coach from 7th grade through his junior year. Don admired and learned so much from Dean as a teacher, coach, father, husband, businessman and community leader.

Much like the credit he gave to his teammates, coaches and employer, Don heaps the most praise on his parents and wife. His dad, Jack, always made time to play catch or shoot baskets and loved to follow Don’s career at Arcola and SIU. Don praises his mother, Ellamae, as the strength of their family. By example, she exemplified a strong work ethic, checked that homework was done, made sure he knew right from wrong and instilled the value of giving and charity. Her core family values were centered around a strong religious foundation with an emphasis on honesty and love. Don says his wife Carol has been totally supportive of everything he has done and accomplished. He believes having his best friend as his wife has been a blessing. Don does not believe he would be receiving this award without the unconditional love and support Carol has given him over the last 50 years. In spite of all his sports, career, educational and community successes, Don does not list those as his greatest contribution. Without a doubt, the most important personal value is being a good husband and father. Along with Carol, Don believes being a parent to Kyle, Kevin and Kelsey is their greatest achievement in life.

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Last Revision November 11, 2017