Daughter, Sister, Friend, Mom, Grandma and Great Grandma. Dona Mae Walter had many titles over the years, and she relished every one of them. Her quiet strength, persistence and unconditional love were always accompanied by a prayer.
As her life drew to a close, phone calls and wishes poured in from all who knew her. ‘Most precious pure soul I’ve ever met,” was repeated over and over. Sweet, gentle, kind and giving were the words most used to describe her spirit. Unanimously, it was agreed that heaven was going to receive one of their own, and the gates were already open with anxious anticipation.
Each day new family members would come to say their good-byes, and even though they left with tears in their eyes, their hearts were full of gratitude for this wonderful Dona’s life. Stories were told, precious memories opened as hands gathered around her bed. Laughter and tears flowed in unity as her beloved Jay played beautiful marimba music in the background. Dona heard and would smile, occasionally find her voice and drank in these final moments with those that she loved.
Her final days were spent at home, with Sturgeon Bay as the backdrop and nature pouring in the window. A fitting setting for a life’s review. Dona, was born at home in Barton, Wisconsin on February 28th, 1934 to Neal and Odelia (Muckerheide) Nicholson, sister to Rita (Robert, d) Frank of Manitowoc, Kay (Jess) Janke of Hartland, and Mary (Joe) Greatens of Spring Valley. Her name, Dona, is spelled with one N. Her parents sensed that she was special and chose her name to reflect the unquestioned esteem that would come with her stations in life. Throughout history, Dona, is a title used in official documents to show respect and admiration.
When Dona was two, her family moved to Dows, Iowa, as Neal followed his career path as a High School Agricultural teacher. They moved to Hartford, Wisconsin when Dona was in fifth grade and remained there for the rest of the family’s days. Nature was a part of all her youthful years, as her mother was a master gardener and a notable homemaker. This was the beginning of a lifelong love of baked good, chocolate, fresh berries and popcorn balls! Dona would often tell stories of warm depression era meals and radish sandwiches, family drives through the country, and loving holiday gatherings. Essences of family that she carried with her always.
She dreamed of college but went to work as an office manager at West Bend Aluminum, bringing her ‘Dona’ title to the workforce. She also taught classes for other office workers. At the age of 22, she met and married Norman Walter (Allenton, Wisconsin) and moved to Chicago, Illinois. There she took a position in a law office as Norman began his career as a Chicago Firefighter. When they started their family she began her lifelong career as mom, homemaker, and partner in life and business with her husband Norman.
Her children, Mary (Wayne) Kirkpatrick, John (Colleen) Walter, Joan DeRango, Jim (Donna) Walters and Elizabeth (Jay) Renstrom continually experienced her never ending perseverance and unconditional love. Her endearing qualities, together with Norman’s very real-world spirit have been used by their children as they moved into the world and had families of their own. Grandchildren, Sarah, Benjamin, Timothy, Schuyler, Shea, Caitlin, Nick, Daniel, Matthew, and Patrick, knew their grandmother’s love through a multitude of kindnesses. Her Great Grandchildren will always remember her as G.G. Conner, Joe, McKenzie, Isabella, Dylan, Claire, Jack, Avery, Brooks (who arrived just as Dona was leaving), and one more great-grandchild coming in October will all be told the stories of her loving spirit. And this is what we will always remember about her… She IS and always will be more love than anything else!
On April 30th, at 7am, Dona was welcomed into Heaven by her husband, her mom and dad, and more family and friends than there is time to recount. Her spirit found peace, her body found vigor and she is rejoicing in the rewards of a life well lived, eternally remembered, loved and cherished by all who knew her!
Love you, Dona!
Catholic Mass and Celebration of Life to be scheduled at a future date. In lieu of donations or flowers please consider donating to your local small businesses during this trying time.