Donna Mae Antonson
Donna Mae Antonson passed away Friday, December 10, 2021 in Fort Myers, FL. She resided in North Fort Myers, FL since 2007, but lived in St. Paul, Minnesota most of her life. She was born May 2, 1934 in St. Paul, MN to William H. and Minnie Ella Bertha (Thune) Reichow, now deceased.
Donna’s passion for music began early in her life. At age 11, she took piano lessons at Sacred Heart Church. Later, she learned to play the accordion with a rented instrument, using up the 9 of 10 lessons that her sister Penny hadn’t used. A couple years later, her sister Penny, along with Shirley Hooper, played the guitar with her on the accordion, entertaining at the Veterans Hospital, talent contests at local theaters and dances. In senior high, she sang in the Messiah Choir at Our Savior’s Church, performing every Easter for 4 years.
In 1948, Donna met her future husband and “the love of her life” in the Walther League at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on East Minnehaha and Earl St. in St. Paul. Donna was 14 and David was 16.
One year later, in 1949, Donna became the 1st Jr. Royalty queen in St. Paul Winter Carnival. She was crowned Miss Dayton’s Bluff Playground Queen.
Donna attended Harding Senior High School on Earl and 3rd St., graduating in 1951. After some business schooling, she became the church secretary at Our Savior’s Church in 1954. Later, she became secretary to the president of the Miller and Holmes Gasoline Co.
Donna and David were married on a snowy day at Our Savior’s Church in St. Paul, MN just after Thanksgiving on November 27, 1954. A year later, their first son Doug was born. Arrangements were made to purchase the duplex at 226 Bates in 1957. Dave and Donna rented out the upstairs unit and they lived on the main floor in a one bedroom unit. Along comes their #2 son Dale in 1958 and it’s time for a bigger place to live. They purchased a newly constructed home in a new subdivision in Woodbury in 1959. Donna could enlist her interior decorating skills in their new home, while creating new flower and vegetable gardens around the new property. This was also the year that she began her career working in downtown St. Paul as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway. In 1961, Devin was born and the family was complete.
Woodbury was an idyllic place to raise a young family of boys but there was always an incredible amount of work to be done. This was a perfect launching point for her many amazing talents to begin to shine. Simultaneously, as she was starting out in a new career with a railroad, Dave began attending night school at the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in engineering, while he worked days at 3M. Donna employed her sewing skills to mend clothes and create matching shirts for her 3 sons. She used her accordion playing talents in the Great Northern Clown Band performing at the Children’s Hospital, nearby nursing homes and railroad events.
She began to learn and hone her skills at Duplicate Bridge. She eventually became a Life Master in this competitive pursuit. She was really good at card games of all kinds.
Over the next 3 decades, she worked for the Burlington Northern and the Burlington Northern- Sante Fe Railway. If you needed to find something in a boxcar or to find out where it was supposed to go: Just ask Donna. She retired from this career in Sept. 1996, but never stood still for too long.
She was famous for her garage sale/picker skills, craft fairs and any nearby retail sale. She was a crafter, creating shirts and jackets with appliques that she sold to friends and at craft fairs. She knitted and gave away countless hats to local charities. She always enjoyed a good round of golf. As if there was plenty of time, she volunteered for 15 years after she retired from the RR, helping out at the Children’s Hospital Gift shop.
Donna enjoyed spending time with Dave at their winter residence in Florida. At first, they had a place near Dave’s brother Don in West Palm Beach. Ten years ago they moved across the state to settle in Ft. Myers, FL. Donna was active in the Bridge Club in Ft. Myers and the Moody River Mermaids, a community water exercise group.
Of all Donna’s accomplishments, she treasured the 64 years of marriage to her beloved husband, David. His limitless love and devotion remained a comfort to her after his passing in 2018. Donna is survived by her beloved siblings, brother Arnie Reichow of MN and sister Juanita (Penny) Reichow Swanson of MN. Her two loving sons are Dale Antonson (Lyndra) of MN, and Devin Antonson of GA. Donna was truly blessed with her grandchildren Justin (Heather) Antonson, Jason (Shannon) Antonson, Eric (Desiree) Antonson, Nic (Michelle) Antonson, M. Doucet, Sara Antonson, Dan (Jamie) Antonson, and Phil Antonson. She will also be remembered by her great grandchildren: Alexandria Antonson, Erin Antonson, Arianna Antonson, Brenna Antonson, Kye Antonson, Katarina Antonson, Keinwen Antonson, Jessie Antonson, Carson Antonson and Kelsey Antonson, as well as many nieces, nephews and friends.
Donna was preceded in death by her son Douglas Antonson in 2018 and husband David Antonson in 2019.
A service to celebrate Donna’s life will be held on Saturday, April 30, 2022 at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 2410 Stillwater Rd E, St Paul, Minnesota. Donna and her family began attending Gethsemane while her sons were young; she has always considered it her home church. A social hour begins at 1 p.m. followed by the service at 2 p.m. For those who’d like to remain, a dessert gathering will follow the service at 3 p.m.
Memorial contributions in memory of Donna Mae Antonson are suggested to Public Television.
Friends are invited to send condolences via the on-line guest book which can be found at www.MullinsMemorial.com. You’re encouraged to please share this link with others.
Mullins Memorial Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Cape Coral, is entrusted with final care.