Marlene recommended Donna to me. She referred to Donna as a "fireball" and an "active, great citizen". I reached out to Donna via email and we arranged a time to meet amongst her busy schedule. Donna swims in the early mornings and volunteers here and there and has various appointments and engagements, but she managed to find the time to fit me in. She's got a twinkle in her eye (with maybe even a little mischief in there) and an ever-ready smile. We had a great time talking. I could have listened to her travel stories for hours.
Who are you?
Oh, well, I'm a single person. Since I moved to Touchmark, I'm not the oldest one in sight. Usually, I was. I enjoy helping other people. I never had any children, so I help lots of people now, which I think is important. I think it's important to help people other than your family. Because you're kind of obligated to help your family, you know, you had something to do with them being here. It's fun to meet other people, so I volunteer a lot. With this flower project, I wasn't good at making arrangements, but I washed all the buckets that they came in and everything because somebody had to do it. And that's fine. Now I gotta find a new volunteer job. But I do volunteer with Abilitree. I go fishing with them. In fact, tomorrow's my fishing day. We're going down to the Deschutes. They're forty years old, some of them. I say I went to grad school so that I could put worms on a hook. It's kind of fun. It's self-satisfying to help that group of people. They just, Oh, Donna! Donna! You're here today! Because I do travel a lot and so they do miss me a little bit. That's kind of satisfying to me. I've been pretty active in church. I attend the Methodist church now. I enjoy helping people. The Methodist church, on Wednesdays, feeds breakfast to homeless people. That's a whole new ballgame for me. It's really kind of fun. And I like to work with children. I taught in a high school in Michigan, but I like to work with kids - little kids. So I do that in Sunday School and stuff at church.
Where do you come from and what brought you to Bend?
I grew up in Upstate New York and went to college there and then worked all my life in Michigan. Because that's where the job was. I'm an only child and everybody thought, Donna's going so far away!, but my parents brought me up to be independent. I worked 33 years in Michigan and then I came out here because my Michigan friends were here. Well, somebody talked me into skiing in Michigan. You know what those hills are like. And I said I'll never do that again because every muscle I didn't even know I had hurt. And it was too expensive. Well, they talked me into going a second time and I got hooked. So we skied every weekend with a bunch of kids from Ann Arbor. So I came out here to ski. I met these people in Ann Arbor and they became my friends and they retired and they asked me and I came out here to ski. And I just love it out here. When they talk about ice on Mt. Bachelor, they don't know ice out here. Somebody said to me, You turn on anything! And I say, Yeah, that's what I learned. And they say it's too icy. They won't do that. But you know what the East is like for ice. And I came and I stayed. I've been here 28 years now. I was a little younger and I got to ski in the mornings and play golf in the afternoon, which is fun. But I'm not a real good athlete, I just like it. And I like to be outdoors. That was a lot of fun. I enjoyed being in Michigan, but I could retire in any state. I took a sabbatical and lived in Anchorage and I could of stayed there. I always find things I like to do. It makes it fun. I like people. I've met a lot of people here, so that's fun.
What does community mean to you?
I like to see a lot of different age groups and a lot of different ethnic groups. Bend certainly isn't the ethnic part, as far as I can see. I like them with a common goal of maybe making everybody better, helping other people. And I think they do it pretty well. I think the business community - I'm just amazed at what I see. I don't know any of the business people, but they contribute a lot to this community. I've seen a lot of people and they're always giving, giving, giving. They give lots of money that we don't even know about and then their time. If you have money, it's easy to give it. It's harder to give time. And I like to give time. Community, I guess, is working together with all ages and ethnic groups. It's hard to see that. I lived in Lansing and Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor, of course, was mostly college activities, but Lansing is the capital and there were a lot of ethnic groups there. And I had a lot of African American kids in my classes. I credit my parents for that feeling that I didn't know the difference between pure white and just plain American as far as I'm concerned. I like to get to know new kinds of people and that's why I like to travel.
What do you most look forward to here in Bend?
I came to ski. I moved here to ski. A couple years, I skied a hundred days. And mostly downhill. That was what I liked. I came out here once to ski and the mountains were so great I just wanted to come back. I really hope I can help people better themselves somehow. By example, maybe. First I wanted to live as long as my grandmother did, then as long as my father did, and now I'm working on my mother and she died at 93. And I want to be retired longer than I worked. And I'll make that, I hope. I enjoy listening to people and their stories.
What do you wish for the future of Bend?
Of course we're upset with the traffic because there's more people, but that's what growth is. My answer to that is I don't like to hear people say It used to be because we all take advantage of what it is now. When I first came it was 18,000 people - 28 years ago. We've grown a lot. We have a lot of musical things that we didn't have. I just hope it grows in cultural things. We have a lot of art that I may not understand, but I think it's good. And I hope Bend can continue growing in a very positive way.
Anything else you want to put on the record?
No, I can't think of anything. I could tell you I've visited 87 countries. And I'm going to Sri Lanka. I thought if I took one trip a year that would satisfy me. But I got up to three big trips a year. In October I'm going to Sri Lanka. I was going to go to the Philippines on the way to Sri Lanka, but the State Department's put that under a watch country and I don't want to do that. Selfishly, it's hard to find a place I want to go next. I've been to India four times and, of course, that's kind of like India was and I really like it. But it's because of the people I met. I always have a good time, but it's always because of the people I met.
Do you travel alone?
Yeah. Most of the time. I went to Europe in '57 with four other girls. I can tell you lots of details about that trip. We drove a VW around. And I was the only one who knew how to drive with a clutch and so I did all the driving. And I had a good navigator. So we made it around those circles in Paris. And then I went in '59 with one other girl and we went on the train all over Europe. I've been to a lot of Third World countries. I really like Third World countries now. It's hard for me to go to other countries and see them misuse some of our money - our U.S. money. I went to Russia as an exchange person - when I lived in Bend, since I retired. It was fabulous. I stayed with a family, you know. You can ask me a country and I can tell you story (laughs). I like to travel. And I don't mind traveling alone. Because you're forced to meet people. And so when I came to Bend I knew this one couple. And I met some of their friends. And then I went to church because I was brought up that way and met people there. But that was a community, you know. People always ask me, How come you didn't get married? My standard answer is, Just lucked out! And there's no comeback. Everybody's surprised. And I say it in front of couples and nobody has anything to say when I say that.