Donald Kenneth Bullard was born in Oxnard, California, on December 7, 1950, to Frank and Betty Bullard of nearby Santa Paula. With his brother, Thom, and sister, Nancy, Don enjoyed a life in which hard work, love of family, and patriotism were core values. His parents taught him to work hard and play hard; Don excelled at both. During the Vietnam War, he drove a friend to speak with the Navy recruiter and decided maybe he should apply for NROTC. Thus began a 39-year adventure.
He received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Southern California and was commissioned through the NROTC Program in June 1973. While at USC, he met Katherine Liguori, who quickly became the love of his life. He proposed in Puerta del Sol, Madrid, where she spent a year abroad, and their 50-year marriage was a true partnership of deep love and mutual respect. As a Naval Officer and Aviator, Bullard excelled as a pilot, earning the admiration of his fellow officers, many of whom reported it was a joy to be his wingman. He logged over 4,000 hours in various aircraft with over 1,000 carrier landings. His personal awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal (two awards), Legion of Merit (four awards), Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, and various unit and campaign awards. He received his Master’s Degree with the highest distinction from the Naval War College and graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College and the Syracuse University Maxwell School National Security Studies Program. Throughout his career, Rear Admiral Bullard dedicated himself to supporting and serving the sailors, officers, and civilians under his command; he inspired, trained, and equipped them to successfully execute any mission in service to God and country. In turn, he earned their deepest respect and admiration for his commitment to their safety and excellence. He embodied the concept of servant leadership long before it became a catchphrase.
Rear Admiral Bullard’s achievements as a warrior and patriot pale in comparison to his achievements as simply Don: spouse, parent, and friend. He smoked too much, drank too much, and laughed just enough. He loved deer hunting, giving new meaning to the term “bringing home the bacon” when he brought home wild hog and venison. Don’s most precious title was “Dad,” and he dedicated himself to fiercely loving and taking care of his family. As Dad, he upheld high standards of behavior and effort and created endless opportunities for fun: swimming, water-skiing, camping, snow skiing, neighborhood parties, clambakes, sailing, and flashlight tag in the snow. Relocation to new duty stations was an excuse to explore national parks and Civil War battlefields or tackle white water rapids and horseback riding. He taught his children that “home is where we make it and where our family is. It’s the people in the house that make it a home.”
Finally, Don was a man who lived to serve others. He didn’t judge others; he simply offered himself without expecting anything in return. No one in need of help was overlooked if Don could help. In 2015 he began serving on medical missions with his wife, Katie and soon began leading medical and surgical teams serving with her in Guatemala. He experienced great joy in this work, finding no task too humble if it helped someone else. He was strong, quiet, stubborn, and kind. Don reluctantly left us on July 11, 2023, and leaves behind his wife, Katie, children Kristen (Alon) Wiedenman, Kimberly Bullard, and Nicholas (Karen) Bullard, six grandchildren, brother Thom (Kathy) Bullard, sister Nancy Horton, mother-in-law Jerry Liguori, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Don would not want people to mourn him with tears. Just love those you are with, serve with all your heart, and know that every moment is precious. In lieu of flowers, he would be honored by your gift in his memory to one of the following organizations that touched his life in a powerful way:
• Faith in Practice, which supports ongoing medical and surgical missions in Guatemala, at https://www.faithinpractice.org/give/ or
• To the exceptionally skilled and compassionate St. Luke’s Medical Center and Cancer Institute, both in Meridian, at https://www.stlukesonline.org/about-st-lukes/donate-or-volunteer/make-an-online-donation.
Private family services will be held at Risen Christ Catholic Church in Boise, Idaho. Remembrances may be left for the family at www.AccentFuneral.com.