Donna Lou Frazer was born in Layfayette, Indiana on March 13, 1941 to Edward and Joyce Clements Frazer. Donna was to be the eldest of five children, followed by Carol, Dan(iel), Jeanne and Tim. Growing up in Muncie, Donna did rule the roost of her siblings and like or not (usually not) was given the nickname Rooster. While her childhood was not an easy one, my Mom would always tell me that she loved her family and would share fond memories of times with her siblings. She loved coming home to all of her mom’s homebaked treats - coffee cake, biscuits, pies and cakes. This was likely the source of her life long preference for all things sweet. Donna graduated from Muncie Central High School in 1959. Donna loved to dance and even won a “Twist” contest.
After high school, Donna moved to California. She recalled these times with joy and talked about parties and adventures with her sister Carol, roommates and life long friends Rosemarie Flowers and Kay Cane. Initially, she and her sisters took night classes at Long Beach City College. Donna met her future husband, Matthew J. Doyle, at a party and her first impression was way off base! She thought he was arrogant as he was trying to describe his travels as an officer in the Navy. Fated to be, they encountered one another again and the second time, she could see the kind, smart and sarcastic man that he was. Donna and Matt married in September 1967.
For a period of time, they lived where the Navy took them. Donna finished her college career at Cal State Fullerton when they moved back to California. They tried for children but after several years, decided that maybe it was not fated for them. Instead, they got two beagles and enjoyed each other. Donna worked for Prudential Insurance, made crafts, including decorations for Christmas (a shared growing love for Donna and Matt - holiday decorating), and took cooking classes. Desserts were to be had! Approaching ten years of marriage, Donna had her eye on a red sports car for their family of 2 lifestyle. But feeling a little sick, Donna went to the doctor and lost the sports car dream when she found out she was pregnant at 36!
I was born and given a super Irish name Kelly Lynn and Donna made sure I dressed the part from early on. St. Patricks Day now had a mascot yearly in our house - namely me! Dressed in shamrock print dresses or all green outfits (often year round) Donna was proud of her heritage. Deciding she wanted to stay home after a few years, Donna left Prudential, but kept in contact with her boss Evelyn Atkinson.
Donna then embraced being a mom - throwing Halloween parties, volunteering at school and eventually running the PTA after the 3 of us moved to Fountain Valley. If you were in Donna’s life, then she would be there for you, when you needed and also giving you what you didn’t know you needed - a mailed card for every occasion, trinkets and invitations for breakfasts or walks. My mom was truly the best friend that any of us could hope to have and keep in our life. She modeled this for me - helping start Party Girls when we lived in Cerritos, which she attended until she was no longer able, book clubs, arranging trips with other families and her special crew in Fountain Valley - Susan, Veronica, Dennie and Joanne Herbel. Donna was the word board game champion - Scrabble and Boggle were her favorites and it was the only time you would see her get viciously competitive.
Donna, Matt and Kelly did not get enough time together as a family of three - nineteen years was not enough - but it was filled with road trips, family holiday celebrations, exploring restaurants, a cat and a dog, and lots of sarcastic humor. When Matt developed Sarcoma and was sick, Donna was by his side.
After losing her loving husband and my father, Donna returned to work as the Alumnae Coordinator at Connelly High School, where she and my father had been active. As usual, Donna made friends and incorporated them in her sweet, inviting way. Donna and Matt had plans to travel but she was able to do this with her sister Carol, her cousin Pam, her friends and me - trips to Europe, Ireland, South America, Missouri, Texas, Washington, Hawaii. Donna and I made the sweetest pen pal, Hank Zankman on our Europe trip, and we all remained in touch until his passing.
One of the things I wanted most in my life was to give my mom grandchildren. And I did. And if you know my mom, then you know they were her gems. Matty, Grace and Zachy had my mom’s heart. She would come for weeks at a time after Matt was born, and hold him and read to him. For hours. Never a complaint. She tried to take nighttime duty multiple times. She bought them things, of course but the greatest gift she gave them was her time and love. Grandma Donna was a level of patient that seems impossible - she would always meet my kids where they were at - including the floor when her knee would barely allow her to get back up. She would play every game, listen to their babbles, ramblings and then stories. She championed their achievements - from a pee in the potty, to learning how to read, to kid sport success. Grandma Donna took them to High Tea too many times to count, to Disneyland, to Knotts, to the park, to Legoland, and held us up quietly when we needed it. She tried to give them everything she could and then she ran out of time.
Donna loved breakfast, dessert, all things blue and yellow, Irish music, holidays but was the Christmas queen, reading, beach walking and giving to others. After she was diagnosed with Alzheimers and moved to Sunrise in Beverly Hills, she continued in her Donna way - becoming the official “greeter”, helping organize activities, playing Bingo with Matty (the Sunrise "mascot" for many years), decorating beyond what was permitted in the shared hallway for all the holidays and sharing her love with friends, especially Daphne, Patricia and Sharon. Donna was truly beloved by the staff and bestowed nicknames upon many a few of which are too good not to mention here - Honey Bunny, Happy Girl, Uber, Pennies from Heaven. Aurora lead the team that cared for my mom like she was their own family - especially during Covid when we were not allowed to be together in person.
My mom was my biggest fan and loved me like no one else ever has or will. I am eternally grateful that she was mine. Donna was also a wonderful, loyal sister and aunt. She was the best mother in law - kind, supportive and forgiving. She was the kind of friend that remembers, helps, laughs, and loves. She was the perfect match for my one of a kind Dad. And she set the bar as Grandma Donna.