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Donna M Simanton

January 8, 1925 July 8, 2021
Donna M Simanton
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Obituary for Donna M Simanton
Donna was born in Lansing, Michigan, to Charlie and Adelia Johnson Honsowetz of Okemos, Michigan, where they had a farm. When Donna started first grade at five in a one-room schoolhouse, there were 11 students in eight grades.

When Donna was in high school, Charlie fell ill with hepatitis. Unable to work his farm or his factory job, they were bankrupt and the farm was auctioned off. She attended Okemos high school where she was one of two students studying Latin, the only language offered. Donna was the lead in school musicals and plays. She graduated top of her class of 26 and worked one summer at a WT Grant store, earning $15 a week!

In 1944, she saw a brochure saying that Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing was recruiting women for its Nurse Cadet Corps and would pay for three years of study plus $15 a month. She started the program in Baltimore. The war ended in 1945 and Donna graduated as an RN in June, so she returned to Lansing and worked as a private duty nurse.

Donna met the love of her life (Jim) in an evening philosophy class at Michigan State in 1947– he was a delightful man! They were engaged on New Year’s Eve in 1947 before Jim left for California to work. Donna flew to California in July where they shopped for an engagement ring (which took five years to pay off!). Donna’s parents couldn’t afford to come to California, so her mother made and sent her wedding dress – they were married in October 1948. With no money after a one-week honeymoon, Jim’s co-workers gave them a food shower.

Donna & Jim moved to Phoenix where Jim, his brother William and another partner started a business, and their first son, James Michael was born. The business failed when the third partner absconded the company funds and went to Mexico.

Upon a move back to Lansing for Jim’s further studies they lived in married student housing, a Quonset hut with no plumbing and communal dining. Jim’s work took them to Pittsburgh where their son, John Patrick, was born in 1952. The University of Chicago hired Jim to work in nuclear research with Matson Laboratories. They settled in Glen Ellyn, Illinois where Donna worked many years as a nurse in different capacities. They attended United Church of Christ where Donna chaired Casa Central, helping inner-city Spanish-speaking people.

After Jim’s retirement, they spent winters in Arizona and the rest of the year in Spokane, which they discovered while traveling around the country in their RV. Jim designed their home and they moved in in 1995. After Jim had a stroke, he designed the park across from their house and eventually gave it to the development of Qualchan Hills. Both sons eventually moved to Spokane to be with Jim and Donna. Donna is survived by both sons.

Donna’s goal in life was to advocate for peace as evidenced by the Peace Pole in the park. Her love of animals brought many dogs into her life.

A Celebration of Life will take place on September 7, 2021, at 2:00 pm in Qualchan Garden Park, corner of Bolan and Pender Lane in Qualchan Hills, Spokane.

Memorials made be given to Doctors without Borders in Donna’s memory or a charity of your choice in honor of Donna.
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