Donald Franklin Looney, Sr. of Irmo, beloved father, brother, uncle, and
Don, the son of the late Johnnie Walter Looney, Sr. and Sarah Nunamaker Looney, is survived by his sons, Donald, Jr. and Thomas Looney and their mother Judy Moore; two brothers, Johnnie W. Looney, Jr (Nancy Flowers) and Charles Looney (Helen Brabham); and by two sisters, Elizabeth (Beth) Looney Richardson (Gene) and Suzanne Looney Newell (William) and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his youngest brother, Dennis C. Looney, Sr.
Don was born November 14, 1944, and reared in Irmo. He was a well-rounded student. Determined to be an electrical engineer, he studied diligently. Showing an early aptitude for electrical systems, he built an electric motor that he entered into his school’s science fair. He played trumpet in the Irmo High School marching band and competed in football, basketball, and baseball. His baseball skill was so remarkable that he was elevated to the Irmo High School varsity baseball team when he was in the 7th grade. In addition to achieving All-State honorable mention as a football player, he once held the Irmo high school basketball single-game scoring record at 32 points.
In 1963, Don entered Clemson College with his boyhood friend and cousin Danny Derrick. Within a few days, they met another freshman, Charlie Jager of Charleston. The three became fast friends, and combining their names, Jager, Derrick, and Looney, they formed the “Jaderloon” brotherhood that would last a lifetime. After graduating from Clemson in 1967 with an electrical engineering degree, Don served for four years and was a captain in the United States Air Force. He then joined South Carolina Electric and Gas Company as an electrical engineer, and, soon after, met the requirements to become a licensed professional engineer.
In the early 1970s, Don and Danny saw a growing demand for greenhouses and related technologies. Seeing the opportunity and having an extraordinary entrepreneurial drive and optimism, Don resigned his position with SCE&G. With Danny, he co-founded a greenhouse engineering company that would become known worldwide for its innovative greenhouse technologies and services. In 1976, the company was incorporated as Jaderloon.
Don’s numerous patented inventions demonstrated his ability to create simple, practical advancements in greenhouse technologies. Clemson University Professor of Horticulture, Dr. Jeffrey Adelberg, once engaged Don to engineer and fabricate a manually operated roll-up roof for a research greenhouse that Clemson needed. Instead of a manual system, Don proposed an automated roll-up system that the Clemson researchers thought would be impossible to engineer. Using iterative prototyping and testing, Don engineered and fabricated a unique and functional solution. Dr. Adelberg and his staff were astounded at the simplicity and practicality of Don’s design, which is still in use at Clemson.
In addition to being the quintessential entrepreneur and businessman, Don was active in his community. He was a lifelong member of Union United Methodist Church. For 30 years, he served on Irmo’s planning commission and was an influential member of the task force that named Irmo’s Lake Murray Boulevard. Don served on BB&T bank’s advisory board for 15 years, was a member of Ruritan, and was an admiral in the Irmo Navy.
Despite Don’s passion for sports, business, engineering, and his community, his greatest love and achievement are not found in any of these endeavors. Don’s greatest love was his two sons, Don and Tom. His greatest achievement was being their loving father. He was very proud of his boys and had them with him at every opportunity. In Irmo, friends would regularly see Don with his sons in church, at restaurants, and in the gym. Don patiently taught them greenhouse job skills at Jaderloon. Outside Irmo, Don took his sons to his greenhouse work sites, to Atlanta Braves baseball games, and to Clemson football, basketball, and baseball games. As a father, Don Looney was the greatest.
Family and friends admired Don’s courage and determination and will miss his loving, optimistic presence in their lives. They are grateful for the special care and support provided by his brother Charles, his sister Suzie, his friend Charlie Jager, his cousin Danny Derrick and Danny’s wife, Sandra Derrick. The family is also thankful for the support of Jim and Linda Kirby.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked that you donate to the Union United Methodist Church building fund.