Donna Jean Hansen was born on a family farm near Dunlap, Iowa, May 2, 1931, to James Ivan and Gladys Helen (Ray) Hansen, the first of seven children. She died at home in Roseville, Minnesota January 22, 2024.
She was baptized March 18, 1949, at the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Denison, Iowa. In Minnesota she attended Wesley Methodist Church with her family.
Donna is survived by her youngest son, Ronald L. (Cristiani), Rochester Hills, MI, five grandchildren; C. Scot Stene, Randall Stene (Samantha), Alicia Stene, Phillip Stene, Stephanie Stene; and five great-grandchildren; Brady Fortune, Shyla Baird, Landon Stene, Marla Adams and C. Seth Stene. Also two brothers; Dr James Hansen (Anniek) N.Y., Lloyd Hansen Denison, IA, three sisters; Dr. Lois Godiksen Washington, D.C., Karen McPartland Council Bluffs, IA, and Patricia (Michael) Clarey Denison, IA., also many nieces and nephews. Her son, Charles A. (Chuck), parents and her sister Eleanor and Eleanor’s husband Ervin Maiefski preceded her in death. Also brothers-in-law James McPartland, Gene Ebner and Vernon Godiksen, and former daughter-in-law Cheryl Wolfgram Stene.
As a child Donna’s parents were tenant farmers; the family was forced to move from farm to farm every two to four years. Her schooling was obtained in Shelby, Harrison and Crawford counties in Iowa; She graduated Denison High School in 1948. She had begun working as a waitress at the age of 13, then at 16 as a switchboard operator at the Denison telephone company. Her 43 year dedication to nursing began in 1949 when she attended Morningside College with classes at Lutheran Hospital School of Nursing, Sioux City, Iowa. She graduated, a Registered Nurse, September 1952.
Donna and Charles Sherwin Stene were married by Rev. Wm. Van Dyken on September 28, 1952, at the Federated Church in Fergus Falls MN with Byron Hanson and Sherwin’s sister Lois Stene as attendants.
The following June Donna and Sherwin moved to St. Paul. Donna began working at the C.T. Miller Hospital as a registered nurse, was promoted to night supervisor and later to Assistant Director of Nurses.
In October 1953 their son Chuck was born, followed by another son, Ronald, in 1956. They became owners of a new home in Roseville in May 1955. Finances were tight so Sherwin and Donna worked alternate shifts making it possible for them to provide their own child care, and also to need only one car.
The family moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in 1961; they lived in the home of Sherwin’s uncle Edwin while Sherwin attended the University of Kansas. The Minnesota home was rented, furniture was stored, the car and trailer were packed; it was a hot ride on pre-freeway roads in a non-air-conditioned car, especially hot for Perky, the family cat. Until February 1965 Donna worked as Director of Nurses at Watkins Memorial Hospital on the K. U. campus. It was a very busy time with two young sons in elementary school, Sherwin and Donna being responsible for the upkeep of Edwin’s large home, Donna hostessing for Uncle Edwin’s seminars and other events, participating in K.U. faculty activities, sometimes helping Sherwin with his classwork until the wee hours of the morning, besides the occupational business of a busy hospital.
With Sherwin’s newly earned degree the family returned to Roseville in the spring of 1965. Sherwin began work for the State of Minnesota. After a short stint at old Ancker Hospital and, when it opened in October, the new St. Paul-Ramsey Hospital, Donna accepted the position of Administrator at the Lake Owasso Children’s Home for the next four years.
In 1969 Donna began full-time classes at the University of Minnesota while working part-time at Ramsey Hospital. Then with a newly earned B.A. in 1971 she began teaching second year nursing students at Ancker School of Nursing. After one year she returned to hands-on nursing in the Emergency Room at Ramsey Hospital, a good fit for someone with high energy. She continued in this position either full-time or part-time until she retired in December 1992. From 1976 until 1991 Donna also worked in Psychiatry at United Hospital in St. Paul.
Although nursing gave her great joy, her greatest source of pride flowed from her family who she loved and supported unconditionally. In addition to the many activities that her sons were involved in she also assisted her parents, Sherwin’s parents, and several other family members as life’s problems arose for them. Donna was a cub scout leader, a Sunday school teacher, a transporter, and family organizer. The family vacationed together every year. For many years an annual vacation was spent at Ottertail Lake in Minnesota. In later years at Breezy Point. Many cherished memories were made on the family vacations.
Donna enjoyed travel with her husband and children, later with grandchildren and great grandchildren. After retirement Donna and Sherwin continued their passion for travel and adventure as long as physically able. They enjoyed numerous trips to attend Elderhostel gatherings thru-out the U.S. And traveled to all 50 states, many times in their motor home. They took cruises and traveled over-seas. They shared a passion for square dancing which they enjoyed with friends for many years.
On July 28, 1978, Donna was given the honor of becoming grandma for the first time. Grandchildren were a special joy to her and she did many things with them while she was still working. A generation later great-grandchildren were an added bonus. She enjoyed hours with five young great-grandchildren, and was sad because she was unable to see her youngest granddaughter very often because of the distance between them.
Sherwin had numerous health problems through many years. Helping him to live a lengthy, fruitful retirement was a challenge that Donna confronted head-on. They purchased ten acres of wooded land near North Branch Minnesota and this became their retreat from city life. Burial will be beside her husband at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis.
A Memorial Tree was planted for Donna
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Cremation Society of Minnesota