Don McIntosh, an amazing man who battled polio, has passed onto his eternal reward

But what a legacy he has left behind, including moving ANS into the digital age

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service


Recent picture of Don McIntoshHACIENDA HEIGHTS, CA (ANS – August 1, 2017) – In my long career in journalism, I’ve interviewed many extraordinary people, like Mother Teresa of Calcutta; Olympian and World War II hero, Luis Zamperini; Coretta Scott King, widow of the late Martin Luther King Jr., and quadriplegic, Joni Eareckson Tada, who’s 1979 movie “Joni”, is to be re-released and premiered this coming Sunday (August 6, 2017) in Westlake Village, California.

All of them were figures known around the world, but right up there with them is Don McIntosh, a man who never sought the limelight, but was, to all who knew him, a true unsung hero of the Church, who, despite his disabilities, and much pain, spent many years unselfishly helping others.

Born on December 14, 1929, in Louisville, Kentucky, Don’s life took a shocking turn when in the summer of 1943, he contracted polio, and was placed in an iron lung for a time. (Physicians who treated people in the acute, early stage of polio saw that many patients were unable to breathe when the virus’s action paralyzed muscle groups in the chest, and so the iron lung enabled that person to breathe).

“Recently, Don mentioned about wanting to go back in there because it was ‘comfortable,’” his son-in-law, Kirt Ensman, told ANS. “During his treatments, his parents would get extra gas tags to be able to go the hospital to visit him.”

Now, I have to report that we have recently lost Don McIntosh, who passed onto his eternal reward at his home in Hacienda Heights, California, on Friday, July 21, 2017, with his wife Lydia, who he married in 1952, at his bedside.

Don was a man who could never sit still, and when this aerospace engineer, retired from Hughes Aircraft in the Los Angeles area in 1989, after almost 35 years of service, he began looking for ways he could help small Christian ministries with their computer needs.

Lydia and Don McIntosh smallerAnd that’s where we come in, for just after I started our fledgling news service, then called ASSIST Communications, Dr. Dale W. Kietzman, chairman of our board at the time, told me about Don McIntosh, and his non-profit, Ministry Systems. Inc.

Dr. Kietzman told me that Don, with his considerable persuasive skills, had begun assembling a talented team who would volunteer their time to open up the computer age for small groups of ministering Christians who needed help, and we sure did. We had been using what was then called FAX Broadcasting, which was a laborious way of sending out stories. It could sometimes take several hours for just one story to be delivered in this way.

Before long, Don and his team joined forces with us, we changed our name to ASSIST News Service, and he volunteered retired college administrator, Kenneth L. Hunt, to be our webmaster, which he was for many years. Bob Dodd also became an invaluable help to us when we had problems, and he still helps me with the posting of my many radio shows on our website.

“Best Site on the Web”                       

Eventually, the ASSIST News Service (ANS) won the title “Best Site on the Web in the Christian News category” in a survey published on Friday, March 14, 2003, by Premier Christian Radio, a top Christian radio station, based in London.

In a story written by award-winning journalist Stefan J. Bos, he reported that Premier said that “ASSIST founder and journalist Dan Wooding, and his team write more stories to the pound than any other group of journalists on earth.”

The station added that there’s a “whole lot’s available by free e-mail subscription, and many stories come first-hand from the furthest reaches of the universe…”

“Passion for the Persecuted” Award

Don McIntosh and friendsStill with the invaluable help of Ministry Systems, the ASSIST News Service was presented at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in February 2012, with the prestigious “Passion for the Persecuted” Award from Open Doors.

The citation read, “For Commitment to Informing the Public of the Plight of Persecuted Christians around the World.”

Eventually, we moved on to work with a group called Greedbegone ( , run by a couple of Calvary Chapel pastors, Jason Gold and Matt Klein, but the start given to us by Don McIntosh and his Ministry Systems team, will never be forgotten by all of us at ANS.

Don was a Happy Camper

Besides his computer work, Don was also involved with a group at the Whittier Area Community Church called Happy Campers of Whittier. “I’ve known Don and Lydia for over 20 years,” said John Gibson, who kindly supplied most of the pictures in the story. “Our introduction started with our tenting with the Happy Campers. It’s a para-church group of about 20 rigs that go out of town monthly until the summer months.

“Don and Lydia were long term members. Don would hook up his pickup to his rig and drive to our various locations. Although eating seemed to be our greatest adventures, we did hold ‘church’ on Sunday mornings. It has been a great support group for many of our members.

“He soon recruited me to help with board membership on his Ministry Systems, which had a mandate to help Christian groups in the area of computer and Internet.”

Lydia with dog as Don looks onHe described Don McIntosh as “a thinker, always looking creatively at issues.” Also, “creative in addressing and solving problems”, and also “unafraid,” adding, “having gone through polio, nothing seemed to hold him back. It was a joy to see Don at is computer, wooden erector stick with an eraser at the end in his mouth, pecking on his keyboard.”

Before I end my story, I wanted to share more information about Don, kindly supplied by his family members.

Here are a few highlights:

* At the age of 9, his Sunday school teacher made sure that all of her charges accepted Christ as their personal Savior. When he was baptized (I think Easter Sunday) he was marched up to the baptistery in a line. He saw some switches he had never seen before, so he decided to see what they did. He turned off the lights to the whole sanctuary.

* His father gave him free reign of the tools, so if he wanted something, he had to make it or earn it.

* Summer of 1943, he bought himself a new bike. Soon after, he got polio.

* Met Lydia at Deer Park Baptist Church, Louisville, KY. Don said the ladies of the church somehow set them up.

* Don had a boat on the Ohio River. This was where they spent much of their courtship.

*Married 10/02/1954 in chapel at Deer Park. Honeymooned in “The South”

*Saw advertisement for Hughes. Hired “sight unseen” for their El Segundo plant. He so impressed them during the phone interview that he got the job, though they hadn’t realized his disability. Moved to CA soon after they were married.

* Lived in apt. when Bill was born 9/1956.

* Bought house walking distance from ocean in Playa del Rey. Leslie was born 06/1958

* At Hughes, he was-project manager for radars used by Navy and helped design dashboard for aircraft carriers. Project manager responsible for purchasing computer system for HR at Hughes. (He wanted to serve his country).

* Got Master’s from USC in Engineering.

* March 1960, moved to Hacienda Heights.

*August 1960 Scott born.

*Attended First Baptist Church, La Puente. Parents saw this church as their mission.

* Scout master for boys (and sons) in La Puente. His job with this was challenging boys to become men (and away from mommas). Back packing almost monthly.

* Retired from Hughes.

McIntosh family* He loved doing out-of-the-box things. The day, Catherine, granddaughter, was born, he insisted on getting a birthday cake. His would be her only b’day cake, all the others would be anniversary cake. He would often set up competitions of some kind.

* Clark (middle name) is from Lewis and Clark fame. Something like 16 great uncles.

Words to describe Dad

Ethical-We didn’t know what he did at Hughes because he had a high clearance.

Trust in God-Didn’t lock door of house or car so they could be accessible

In Charge-When asked how he could stand so many meetings- His reply was, “I run them”.

*Challenger-Saw potential in others and tried to give them opportunity to succeed. (He was often let down)

Didn’t think of self-Often thought he was given chances because of his disability, not because of his smarts.

Loved and cared for his family-way into the future.

His Family

William Robert McIntosh-Daughters Amber and Madeline (Maddie)

Leslie Elizabeth McIntosh Ensman-Sons Brian, Aaron, Kyle and Daughter, Catherine

Scott Cromwell McIntosh-Daughter Sharon

A memorial service to celebrate the inspiring life of Don McIntosh has been scheduled for Saturday, August 12th at Whittier Area Community Church at 2:00 PM, where I hope to be able to share about the way he helped our news service move forward, and also blessed all who knew him.

Photo captions: 1) A recent picture of Don McIntosh. 2) Don and Lydia McIntosh enjoy warm beverages at Yucaipa Regional Park with their friends of Happy Campers of Whittier. 3) Don and Lydia with some of the Happy Campers of Whittier. 4) Don watches Lydia as she greets a dog of one of the members of Happy Campers of Whittier while preparing for a group pictures at Newport Dunes RV Resort, Newport Beach, CA. 5) The extended members of the McIntosh family. 6) Dan receiving his recent award in Beverly Hills, California, from his son, Peter Wooding.

Peter Wooding hands award to Dan Wooding smallerAbout the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books and has two US-based TV programs and also a weekly radio show.  Dan’s most recent jpmpr was a top humanitarian award at a film festival in Beverly Hills, California, for his long-standing reporting on persecuted Christians around the world.

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