Friends Remembered: Donal A. Wallace

Donal A. Wallace

Carnegie Hero Donal A. Wallace, 93, died Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023 in Happy Valley, Oregon surrounded by his family.

Wallace was born May 25, 1930 in Sonora, California to Arthur and Alta Wallace.

Wallace earned the Carnegie Hero Medal for saving a girl’s life from an oncoming train at Multnomah Falls, Oregon, on Feb. 19, 1950. The young girl had strayed from her grandfather and froze on the tracks as the speeding locomotive was approaching. As he grabbed her arm, the girl resisted and Wallace lost his footing. He regained a foothold just in time to pull the both of them up against the railing of a retaining wall as the speeding train passed inches from his face. The heroic act also earned him an award of “Citizen of the week” from the famous columnist, author, and television personality, Jimmy Fidler.

Wallace worked many jobs, from auto parts clerk to truck driver, and he eventually became a successful upholsterer and ran his own vocational trade school, Portland Upholstering School, for more than 30 years. He was very proud that many of his students were from the Veterans Department and State Rehabilitation Services, where he helped numerous individuals over the years overcome their own hardships to become successful in the upholstery trade. This is where he met the love of his life, Rosalie, after hiring her as the business secretary. They married in August 1965. Wallace loved to play the steel guitar and had a fondness for country music. He loved to travel to the desert and enjoyed camping, hiking, and biking with his family.

Wallace is survived by his loving wife; son Jeff; and two grandchildren, Ellie and Ethan.