Donald H. Kortes

Donald H. Kortes
Provided Photo
Donald H. Kortes

February 27, 1931 – March 24, 2021

Long-time teacher and community member Donald H. Kortes died March 24, 2021 at home in South Lake Tahoe surrounded by his family. His death was due to congestive heart failure and complications from surgery in October. He was 90 years old.

Don was born in Paonia, Colorado to Ida Belle (McKissen) and John Henry Kortes who lived in Telluride, Colorado. He lived in Telluride until he was six years old. His Kortes grandparents were immigrants to Telluride from western Finland. Don was proud of his Finnish heritage and loved visiting the family home in Telluride. After his father died when he was six years old, his mother moved to Grand Junction where she had family. She married George Fortsch who became a very loving Dad for Don. The family moved to California during World War II. They lived briefly in Los Angeles, Central Valley, and finally settled in Eureka, California.

After his family moved to Eureka, Don joined the Boy Scouts. Scouting became an important part of his youth and he earned the Eagle Scout rank. Don graduated from Eureka High School in 1948 and then attended Humboldt State College, transferring to San Jose State College where he majored in marketing. After graduating, he joined the army and spent two years stationed in eastern France. During this time, he had opportunities to travel within Europe and developed a love for travel. Over the years he traveled to many countries and enjoyed meeting people and learning about new cultures.

He married Mary Coverdale in 1954. They moved to South Lake Tahoe in September 1957 where Don began his career as a business education teacher at South Tahoe High School. In those early days, the entire school, K-12, was housed in the building where South Tahoe Middle School is now located. Don taught high school business classes for 38 years, retiring in 1995. He coordinated the work experience program and was particularly proud of helping students learn business skills that would help them become successful in life.

Don and Margaret (Peg) Meyer were married in 1970. They built their home in Tahoe Keys where Peg continues to live. They were married for 50 years and shared in their mutual love for Tahoe and their community.

Don served in both the community and the school district as a leader. He was an elected director for the South Tahoe Public Utility District for 12 years. He served for several years as president of the teachers’ association for several years. After retirement, he was active as treasurer of the Lake Tahoe Historical Society.

Don loved living at Lake Tahoe with the clear air, sparkling water, and opportunity to hike, backpack, camp, and enjoy many winter sports. He also enjoyed theater, being a cub scout leader, and was an entrepreneur of many small businesses including, construction, paper delivery, photography, and 20 years running a cart retrieval service for local grocery stores.

Don was an active, dedicated and supportive father. He spent a great deal of time with his children seeing each day as an opportunity to involve his kids in learning, adventure, and daily life.

Survivors include his wife Peg, children, Karen Marino (Joe), Susan Kortes, Roger Kortes (Barbara), Kathy Goetzke (Andreas), and Jenny Jones (Randy), 17 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held in July. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to Lake Tahoe Education Foundation (, Lake Tahoe Historical Society ( or the Bread and Broth program at St. Theresa’s Church (

To write on a tribute wall or to receive notification about the memorial service for Don, go to

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