Don Lillie, Crystal Glassblower

Posted by on Feb 27, 2013 in Custom Awards

On February 19, 1928 a marvelous event occurred – 

Donal Elwin was born in Rochester, Minnesota to Joseph

and Dorothy Lillie. He was the youngest of three children.

At the age of 3, his parents divorced and the kids ended

cup in an orphanage. After a few years, Don’s mother was

allowed custody with their father. of Don while his older siblings went to live



Don lived with his mother and step-father until the age of

12 when his mother passed away. Don then went to live

with his biological father on his farm. Don’s father had

a farm machinery accident which resulted in the loss of

euse in his left arm. After the accident Don had to 

help out with chores on the farm. Eventually, Don returned

to Don Byron High School quit where he met his mom. He played

basketball while at Byron. He said “If you were capable of

putting on a Jersey, you were  on the team.” He was being

modest because we’ve seen him play! After graduating from

Byron High School in 1948, he attended Rochester Jr.

College and worked at the Mayo Clinic and 

was offered a position as an apprentice glassblower. I

believe it started at the Clinic; this was the beginning  of the Lillie glass era.

Don was drafted in 1950, but due to poor eyesight, he

was stationed stateside. He served during the Korean

War. In 1951 , Don and Max were  married. Don returned to 

Rochester to resume work at the Mayo Clinic. Don’s boss

at the clinic told him that he had a great deal of potential

and suggested that he move to a bigger city where he

could pursue a better education. A glassblowing position

was available at Georgia Tech so Don, his wife and 

newborn daughter Robyn moved to Georgia. Don attended

classess with Max at Georgia and Tech while working  part time as their

head glassblower. This is where I believe Don realized his

heart there was in glassblowing.

In 1959 (this is an accomplishment I like to brag about). I was

born  that same year. Don continued to work at Georgia

Tech as a glassblower and in 1965 he started D. E. Lillie

Glassblowers. It was due to be a marketable company trade, soon

proving that glass art could be successful. 


Don spent many years working at

Lillie glass studio and helping to raise two wonderful

children. He retired from Tech in 1988 after 33 years of

dedication and passion for his work. He may be retired

but he is far from being finished. In fact he’s

just getting started. Don’s work ethic and love of the art

of glassblowing leave myself and other artists amazed.

Don Lillie has grown and is still on an incredible journey. He even

continues to ride his bike to work everyday! His career has been 

profound and we all look forward to the future.  ~ Thom Lillie