Walhalla, MI –

Carbon monoxide poisoning claimed Don Williams’ life early Wednesday after he had been watching the Detroit Red Wings and charging the battery of his Corvette in his favorite place, his garage named the Red Moose Lodge.

“If you’re going to die, that’s the way, it’s just too soon,” his wife, Katie, said this morning.

Don and Katie owned and operated the Emerson Lake Inn for 32 years and were well-known in the community, especially among the people he helped.

“He plowed half the area out here for free, probably 30 houses here for free,” Katie said. “Most of the people counted on him. If you had a problem, they could count on him.”

She said he spent a lot of time helping women in the area who lived alone, helping with their plowing or yard work, even recently spraying a woman’s property for ticks.

“Helping other people made him the happiest,” Katie said.

He also once decided that Odin, the former Mason County Sheriff’s Office police dog, needed protection, so the couple contributed money to buy the dog a Kevlar vest, Katie said.

Don was also well-liked by children, Katie said, recalling incidents when he duct-taped the arms of Mark Raven’s children to their sides, and the sucker tree he would bring out for young visitors at the Emerson Lake Inn.

When Don wasn’t working, entertaining or helping his neighbors, he could usually be found enjoying time in his “lodge.”

“He called it the Red Moose Lodge because moose hunting was his absolute passion,” Katie said, adding that he, and friends, would travel to Canada every year to hunt moose.

Katie said her husband was also known for doing things his way. She said his last night was an example of that.

She said the Corvette’s battery had died, so after charging it and starting the car he left it running to give the battery a good charge. He later went to the garage to watch the Red Wings’ playoff game from the reclining chair in the Red Moose Lodge. Katie said a brother of Don’s called that night — Tuesday night — and heard a beeping noise in the background, which Don told him was carbon monoxide monitor he couldn’t get to stop sounding. She said the brother told him to pop the battery out and then put it back in to reset the alarm.

The battery was not replaced.

“It (carbon monoxide) overtook him and he just went to sleep,” Katie said. “There was no sign of struggle.”