The Plains - Donna Cunningham, 95, The Plains, OH, passed away peacefully, April 28, 2021, at Lindley Inn.
She was born Donna Eileen King, July 7, 1925, in Palos, Athens County, OH, to Walter and Wahneta (Thompson) King. After her mother's death in 1929, she and her siblings were reared on the family farm at Palos by their grandparents, Frederick and Hettie (Shaner) Thompson.
Donna attended Hollister Grade School and Glouster High School, graduating in 1943. She worked briefly at the Ravenna Arsenal. Bored with secretarial work at the underground facility, she moved on to the Twin Coach factory in Kent. There, she was part of a two-woman team that replaced faulty rivets in airplane hulls. This was meaningful war work for Donna since her fiancé was flying supply missions to and from Europe at the time. She continued working as a "Rosie the Riveter" at Twin Coach until the end of the war.
During the war years, she was engaged to her high school sweetheart, John Cunningham. They would meet in New York City whenever he got a weekend pass. On Saturday, Aug. 5, 1944, John asked for a 3-day pass, and they were married at the rectory of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
At war's end, Donna and John returned to Glouster where they raised a family of one son and three daughters. She was involved with the Progressive Study Club, Cub Scouts and the band boosters. She and John believed in the importance of education and started the first parent-teacher organization for the Glouster schools.
In 1966 Donna and John moved to The Plains where they lived for the rest of their lives. In the 1980s they spent the winters in Lake Wales, FL, returning each spring to Ohio to be with family. They rarely missed any of their grandchildren's sports activities.
Donna was taught to be a skilled seamstress by her grandmother, but her true enjoyment was nature. She fed the birds, squirrels and deer in her yard. She loved the ocean and enjoyed walking in the surf well into her 80s. She was an expert gardener and could make any plant grow and thrive. She used her artistic talents to make wreaths for friends and family from natural items she collected.
She was interested in politics, loved to discuss world affairs and wanted so much to see a woman elected president. For a number of years, she served as presiding judge for Athens County elections and volunteered her time at the local Planned Parenthood clinic.
Donna's most treasured time was spent at the Dairy Barn where for over 40 years she was a gallery host, tour guide, gardener and all-around helper. She assisted with the first Quilt National and each one thereafter until her health failed. She dearly loved the staff and other volunteers and referred to them as her "Dairy Barn family."
Donna is survived by her children, John Cunningham (Ron Luce), Jan (Tom) Hodson and Jean Cunningham of Athens and Jill (Dave) Cottone of Dublin, OH; grandchildren, Sarah (Ryan) Ball of Ann Arbor, Jack (Rachel) Cunningham of Miami, Brigid (Joe) Nemec of Columbus, Lauren (Jay) Lafontaine of Massachusetts and Clare Norman of Marietta; great-grandchildren, Alex, Ivy, Will, Lily, Harper, Ellie and Oliver; special family friend Joan Cunningham, several nieces, nephews and cousins; and Mary Slater, longtime caregiver.
Donna was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, John, who died in 2002; and her three siblings, Wayne "Ted" (Evelyn) King, Glenna (Alva) Richmond and Norma (Jack) Campbell.
The family thanks Mary Slater and the staffs of The Lindley Inn, OhioHealth Hospice and Kimes Hospice for their many hours of care.
There will be no calling hours. Burial will be at Maplewood Cemetery, Glouster, with private graveside services for the family. A celebration of Donna's life will be held later this summer at the Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center. Arrangements are with Jagers & Sons Funeral Home, Athens. Please share a memory, a note of condolence or sign the online register at www.jagersfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to the Dairy Barn Arts Center, 8000 Dairy Ln., Athens, OH 45701, or to the Sedona Grace Foundation, P.O. Box 664, Dublin, OH 43017, (sedonagracefoundation.com) established by her daughter, Jill, which works to keep pets with their families by providing food and supplies to those in need. Donna Cunningham