Donna Mae Foster, whose life began on May 25, 1939, passed away on January 29, 2022.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Marie (Sarazyn) and Maxwell Foster, and her siblings, Robert, Maxine, Betty, Joyce, and Thomas. Raised in Marshall, Minnesota, Donna recounted happy stories of her childhood with her grandmothers nearby and her many relatives in town and on their farms.
She is survived by her daughters Gayle (John) Prest, Judy (Kurt) Wagner, and Lisa (David) Ryan; grandchildren Daniel (Jessica) Linehan, Patrick (Zexin) Linehan, Ryan Linehan, Adam Ryan, Harper Ryan, and Rose Ryan; great-grandchildren Anna Linehan and Daniel Linehan; and many nieces and nephews.
Her college education included St. Kate's at age 18, the University of Wisconsin at River Falls at age 35, and the University of St. Thomas at age 45. She was an eager learner throughout her life.
Her first job was as a lifeguard at her neighborhood swimming pool. Her final job was as an accountant at 3M where she worked for 21 years. Throughout those years at 3M, she provided her friends with a steady supply of tape and any other 3M products they might casually mention liking. Other jobs included time as a bookkeeper at the Runnings store in Marshall, as a census worker, as a behind-the-scenes worker at Anoka Public Library, and as a secretary at the Marine Elementary School during its heyday in the 1970s.
My sisters and I remember her as a mother who sewed clothes (sometimes of our own outlandish designs) for us and for our dolls; who loved to play (and win) at cards; who excelled at Christmas baking and decorating; who encouraged frenzied dancing as she played the piano; who led Girl Scout troops and taught Sunday School; who inspired us to visit the library often; and who embraced the women’s movement and raised us to be independent and curious.
She brought us to plays, concerts, readings, museums, and foreign films. And we delighted in her enthusiasm when, as adults, we returned the favor. Taking her grandsons to cultural events gave her enormous pleasure.
Her own tastes were eclectic: Yo-Yo Ma and Frank Sinatra, Voltaire and Isaac Asimov, William Morris and Frida Kahlo. She was interested in archaeology and astronomy. A trip to Paris and a drive through South Dakota both intrigued her. Les Miserables was one of her favorite plays, and visiting the home of Victor Hugo was one of her thrills.
She suffered for many years with multiple sclerosis, living as long as possible in her treasured condo in St. Paul’s Ramsey Hill neighborhood. Her final years were especially difficult as she was unable to walk, was often in pain, and spent her days in bed. During her final months, we enjoyed joining her as she watched old movies and surprising her with ice cream, brie cheese, and shrimp.
We are grateful to Suzie Bachman for their cribbage battles and for her insights into the complexities of MS. And to her dear friend Nancy Orgeman for her steady correspondence and visits.
Thank you to the many people who cared for her at Episcopal Homes. We are also indebted to the staff at Health Partners Hospice for their compassion and kindness. These people were the essential workers in our mother’s life during very challenging times and we will always remember their dedication and courage. If you are moved to honor her memory, we suggest a donation to the staff scholarship fund at Episcopal Homes in St. Paul.
We plan a celebration of her life at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, 2022 at the Cremation Society of Minnesota in St. Paul. It will also be available as a live-stream via TribuCast. https://client.tribucast.com/tcid/6940891095
We found this written (fittingly on a yellow 3M post-it note) and kept on the inside cover of her well-used address book: “It is not the years in your life, but the life in your years that counts.”
We will miss her. We hope she is with her friends and together they are joyfully racing across the universe and unraveling its mysteries.