Donna Lou Cole (née Love) was born Sunday, November 13, 1938 in Battle Creek, Michigan and died on Wednesday, June 7, 2023 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico at the age of 84. Donna was the eldest child and only daughter of Charles William Love and Helen Louise Love (née Fish). As the oldest child, Donna was expected to look after her younger brothers, Charles G. Love of Marshall, MI, and Herbert L. Love of Battle Creek, MI - both of whom survive her. Donna loved to recall the many adventures her family had camping and fishing in Michigan. The Love home in Battle Creek was always full of children, cousins, aunts and uncles, and friends.
Donna was a very early riser. Three am would find her bundled up and out on her patio that faced east, towards the Sandia Mountains. She'd sip her coffee and gaze up at the night sky. She loved being awake before anything disturbed the silence, and she'd count shooting stars, and watch the stars and planets with fascination. Little by little the world would come awake, and she would greet the sun with a second cup of coffee.
Donna was a strong, fiery, independent woman who liked to travel and lived in many beautiful places. She grew up in Michigan, but her adventurous spirit took her to Chicago, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and finally, New Mexico, where she lived since 1988. She worked as both an occupational therapist and speech pathologist, and also as a special educator. One of her proudest accomplishments was founding a school in Peterborough, New Hampshire, that is still in existence today. The Happy Valley Day School focused on integrating students of different aptitudes, talents, and social and economic backgrounds in order to create a diverse learning community in which children learned to appreciate the individuality and uniqueness of one another. Later, Donna would serve as the Director of Special Education for the Claremont School District in Sullivan County, NH. Donna was passionate about her work and her students and clients. She tolerated no bullshit, and would advocate for anyone she felt was being treated unfairly or unprofessionally. In return she was loved and trusted by those she served, and she was often invited into their homes.
In 1996, Donna moved in with her daughter Erin, Erin's husband Paul Roth, and their first child, Rachel (1995). The next few years brought more grandchildren: Jordan in 1997 and Ben in 2002. When she retired, Donna became a full-time grandmother, and her three grandchildren don't remember a day when their beloved "Oma" was not part of their lives. As an occupational therapist and educator, Donna enriched her grandchildren's lives with arts and crafts, music, and activities to develop fine and gross motor skills. Most of all she nourished them with her unconditional love. As the "cool, creative aunt," Donna also encouraged her many nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews, and liked to plan fun activities with her extended family. To her great-nieces and great-nephews, Aunt Donna was known for her patience, encouragement and her ability to keep small fingers busy and happy.
Donna was fun-loving, playful, and endlessly imaginative. In her sixties she began making fine art dolls which she'd exhibit at the New Mexico State Fair, and sell at craft shows and doll-making conferences where she met a whole new circle of friends. She was passionate about creating art, and had an impressively stocked studio where she would work, create, or play with her grandchildren. A voracious reader, Donna would often read a book a day. She loved music, and enjoyed most genres. A ballet dancer in her younger years, she loved listening to various ballet scores that she'd danced to in the past. She shared her love of dance and music with her grandchildren, and to this day they remember the songs their Oma taught them.
Donna had an endless fascination with the natural world, and believed art and beauty is everywhere if you look hard enough. She never lost her sense of wonder. She also really valued and believed in the power of laughter, and if she'd had a chance to give us advice before her departure, she would have told us her signature farewell phrase. "Laugh a lot," she'd say. "Whatever you do, remember to laugh a lot."
Donna is survived by her daughter, Erin Roth; son-in-law Paul Roth; her three beloved grandchildren, Rachel, Jordan, and Ben; her two brothers, Charles and Herbert Love, and many cousins, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews, as well as her many friends.