In the late 1990’s Don Trantow’s home voicemail caught the attention of the Lowell Observatory membership staff. “You have reached Donald Trantow and the Trantow Observatory,” said a serious sounding voice. The caller thought she’d mistakenly contacted another public observatory. As it turned out, Don’s observatory was of the backyard variety with a Meade 12” telescope.
A committed amateur astronomer, Don became a $35 member of Lowell Observatory in 1998. He quickly increased his membership to the $500 Pluto Circle level, and later the $10,000 level Director’s Opportunity Network. In his 21 years of philanthropy to Lowell Observatory, Don underwrote Native American astronomy outreach, historic preservation, summer camp scholarships, astronomical research, and a variety of telescopes for public viewing, including the candy-apple red, 8” Moonraker refractor on the Giovale Open Deck Observatory.
In 2017, after a cancer diagnosis, Don contacted Lowell’s development team while drafting his estate documents. He had decided to leave a majority of his estate to the Lowell Observatory Foundation in support of Lowell’s mission of research, outreach, and historic preservation. Don lost his battle with cancer in early August of 2019. The first portion of his gift arrived in September, the balance of an annuity for which he had named the Lowell Observatory Foundation as beneficiary. The remainder of Don Trantow’s legacy gift will be added to the Foundation’s endowments in 2020.
During his last visit with Don, Lowell Director Jeff Hall shared photographs of the Moonraker Telescope. “At that point, Don had only about three weeks to live, and he was quite frail,” Jeff said. “But he was overjoyed to see the Moonraker and to hear about all the doings at Lowell. We talked for over an hour, and it was a privilege to bring him happiness and peace at the end of his life.”
We are grateful to Donald Trantow for the gifts he made to the Observatory during his lifetime as well as his very generous estate gift to the Lowell Observatory Foundation that will support our mission in perpetuity.
Trantow Observatory with open roof