Donald Philip Harrington

1925 – 2013
Donald Philip Harrington


Longtime Pepsi bottler, Donald Philip Harrington, 88, passed away at his ranch home in Dillon on September 30, of natural causes. He was born to Philip and Dorothy (Rooney) Harrington in Butte on April 20, 1925. 

Raised in Butte, Don graduated from Boys Central in 1942. While serving our country for four years in the Navy during WWII, he was able to travel around the world. He graduated with a business degree from the University of Montana in 1950. After gaining experience in odd jobs, he went to work for his father at the family Pepsi bottling business in Butte in 1953. His family started the first franchise for Pepsi-Cola in the state of Montana in 1937. Don managed Harrington Bottling Company until this summer, often commuting from the ranch in Dillon. He treasured and thought of his faithful Pepsi employees as his extended family. 

Don’s love of horses, ranching and rodeo began in his teens with visits to Hugh Murphy’s ranch in Brown’s Gulch. Helping start the Univ. of Montana Rodeo Team, he competed in bareback riding and calf roping. He started announcing rodeos when another announcer didn’t show up and often announced while competing at the rodeo. He announced rodeos from California to Canada, including the National High School Rodeo Finals, the National College Rodeo Finals, and the NFR. Known as Mr. Pepsi, Don had many colorful friends from the rodeo world. They were friendships that last forever.

Don was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City in 2002 as the recipient of the Ben Johnson Award. This year, Don was honored by the American Quarter Horse Assn. for registering Quarter Horse foal crops for 50 consecutive years. 

Don and his family owned and operated a ranch in Sheridan before expanding to the current location in Beaverhead County. He enjoyed his time at the ranch working with his cattle and horses. He loved working with the horses and seeing the new colt crops each spring. He took great joy in seeing the horses he raised succeed in the rodeo, horse show and ranch worlds. He donated young horses each year to the MSU, UMW and 4-H to help their equine programs. 

Don’s generosity and kindness was known country wide. He supported many colleges, schools, clubs and organizations with his expertise, time, donations and Pepsi products. He donated the property for the Butte Saddle Club and also for the future Veteran’s Home in Butte. He helped many people and organizations without anyone knowing about it and never sought recognition.

 Don was a member and served on the boards of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assn., the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the National Bottlers Assn., the Montana State Bottlers Assn., The Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Assn. and others. He was also a member of the Montana Quarter Horse Assn., BPOE and Exchange Club, along with serving on bank and other organization boards. 

Don and Shirley took many trips through their rodeo and Pepsi-Cola connections. Traveling to China, Japan and many locations in Europe with friends in the soft-drink industry, they enjoyed seeing the world and the U.S. in their travels together.

Preceding Don in death were: his parents, Phil and Dorothy; his brother, John; and his sister, Dorothy Jean Holguin. Don is survived by: his wife of 58 years, Shirley (Davis); brother-in-law George Davis; daughter Lynn (Fred Hirschy); and granddaughters Murphy, Brooke and Cate Hirschy; son Mark (Barb); grandson Matt (Alli); and granddaughters Anne and Becci Harrington. 

There was a Memorial Mass on Friday, Oct. 4 at  St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Butte. Interment will be held at a later date.  Memorials may be made to: Dillon Home Health/Hospice, 600 Highway 91 S., Dillon, MT  59725; Shriners Hospital Travel Fund c/o Bagdad Temple, 314 W. Park St., Butte, MT  59701; Butte Salvation Army, 1229 Harrison Ave., Butte, MT  59701; or to a charity of the donor’s choice. A guestbook is available online at