GABBARD, Donna Jean (nee Henke), age 83, passed away August 27, 2022. She is survived by Lou, her loving husband of almost 63 years, and their four daughters and their husbands: Lori & David Graham, Julie & Vincent Arnold, Holly & Steve Hippenmeyer, and Amy & Robert Morgan. Donna is also survived by her loving cousin, Jennie Peter, and her family. Donna treasured her 15 grandchildren—Michael, Kara, Kaylee, Reagan, Ella, Joe, Ashley, Michelle, Logan, Lauren, Daniel, Clayton, Sophie, Taylor and Macy. In addition, eleven great grandchildren have blessed their family.
Donna was preceded in death by her father, Fred, in 1965, her mother, Elsa, in 1993, and her only sibling, Ronald, in 2018.
Donna graduated from Miami University with Academic Honors in 1960 and Membership in Mortar Board, Senior Women’s Honorary. Representing Delta Gamma sorority on Pan-Hellenic Council, she was elected to serve as President of Pan-Hellenic Council.
Donna and Lou became acquainted when they both served Miami U. as Residence Hall counselors. They became engaged in the summer of 1960 and married Dec. 23, 1960. Donna joined Lou as a teacher in the Riverside, California City School District. In 1965, they returned to Ohio to reconnect with the Henke & Gabbard families. They lived in the same Kettering home they had built in 1965 until health issues forced them to move into retirement living in 2021. Together they built a beautiful home which was a gathering place for family and friends.
Donna gave hundreds of volunteer hours to Aid Assoc. for Lutherans, a fraternal organization. Their largest project was putting together layettes for newborns in every Maternity Ward in eastern and southern Ohio and the western part of West Virginia. Donna was the master planner and organizer. She was a certified media specialist and used her library talents establishing and developing the libraries at Epiphany Lutheran Church and at Oak Creek Elementary School. For nearly 15 years, Donna enjoyed tutoring learners from Japan in the English language. As in everything she did, her devotion to her students fostered lifelong friendships. She was held in high esteem by everyone with whom she worked. She was known and loved for her smile which always graced her countenance, her kindness, and her friendship. She loved sharing her baking and cooking talents with bridge groups, the neighborhood, her church family, and on extended family occasions. The UPS truck was nicknamed Grandma’s Cookie Truck by granddaughter Kara. The truck regularly brought homemade chocolate chip cookies to their home.
Donna was a woman of great inner and outer beauty. She tried and worked so hard to ward off the increasing growth of her Alzheimer’s disease. She was a beloved and devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, cousin, and grandmother. She will always remain in our hearts and minds with love and honor.
A funeral service will be held at 11am on Tuesday, August 30, 2022, at Routsong Funeral Home, 2100 E. Stroop Rd., Kettering 45429. Burial at David’s Cemetery. Contributions in Donna’s memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, or the charity of your choice. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be made at www.routsong.com.