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Donald Vaughan Little


Donald Vaughan Little died on February 29, 2012, from injuries sustained in an accident while competing in the Masters Classic in the International Arena at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. He was seventy-seven years old.

Don was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and resided for most of his adult life at his family farm in Ipswich, Massachusetts, with Judy, his devoted wife of fifty-seven years. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, was an avid pilot and achieved the rank of Captain in the U.S. Air Force. He was the youngest aircraft commander flying B-47 bombers and was awarded the coveted designation as a “select crew” in the Strategic Air Command.

His love for aviation came from his longtime stepfather Crocker Snow who was a renowned civil and military pilot and a pioneer of civil aviation. Don piloted the single engine 1947 Navion inherited from him throughout the country. In addition to their annual trips to Florida and the Caribbean, Don and Judy toured many destinations together including the National Parks in 2006 and Alaska in 2007.

Professionally, he was a highly successful stock broker and institutional investor. He remained at the same desk for forty-eight years at UBS and its predecessor companies, PaineWebber and Kidder Peabody.  He created his own investment team and constantly placed among the top five producers in Boston for the duration of his career.  

He had numerous recreational interests including shooting, fishing and traveling, yet horses were his lifelong passion. He was Captain of Polo for eighteen years at Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton, MA, the oldest active polo club in the country. He further promoted the sport as President of the United States Polo Association (USPA). By the mid 1980s he transferred his equestrian energies to fox hunting and show jumping. He was appointed Master of the Hounds at Myopia in 2001, a position he held until his death, and he founded and managed both of the current Boston Grand Prix Jumper Classic Horse Shows during the period 1991 to 2011. 

Befitting his love of horses, he pioneered the syndicated racehorse business, establishing Centennial Farms Management Company in 1982 to manage a small and select group of thoroughbred racehorses for individual investors. A highpoint came in 1993 when the Centennial horse Colonial Affair won the Belmont Stakes with Julie Krone aboard, the first female jockey ever to win the famed race. The enterprise exists today, run by Little’s surviving son, Donald Jr.

Don’s warm and gregarious nature characterized all these activities. “Don was charismatic,” said longtime family friend Mary Ann Esdaile from Hamilton, and a winter resident of Wellington. “He drew people in to his passions. He brought us all along smiling.”

In his active senior years, Don competed and prevailed in many jumping events throughout the North America including the Northeastern United States, Wellington, Florida and Spruce Meadows in Canada. In 2006 he competed in the Global Champions Tour, a special invitational tour where junior and amateur riders compete against each other. With his trustworthy and invincible “Mr. Nightime” and his stable mate “Soprano”, he traveled to St. Tropez, Cannes and Monte Carlo, where they triumphed.

“It is a huge loss for his wide circle of family, friends and associates,” said longtime polo partner Summerfield Johnston of Chattanooga, TN. “Don was naturally inclusive. It was one of his wonderful traits.”

The only son of Douglas Little from Wales, England and Janice Vaughan Snow from Ipswich, Don is survived by his wife Judith, son Donald Jr., and daughter Andrea, all of Ipswich, sister Patricia Little Moseley of Hamilton, half brothers Crocker Snow Jr. of Ipswich, Andrew J. Little of Chipping Norton, England and grandchildren Donald III and James Little, and Tapley and Isabella Eaton.

Funeral services will be held at Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church, 188 Elliott Street, (Rte 62) Danvers, on Thursday, March 8 at 12:00 noon. Arrangements by the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to: Fisher House Boston, 111 Rockville Pike, Suite 420, Rockville, MD 20850, Dana Farber Cancer Institute & Jimmy Fund, 10 Brookline Place West, 6th Floor, Brookline, MA 02445, Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, PO Box 3387, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, or the Life Fund FBO, Boston Park Rangers Mounted Unit, 125 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115.

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