Donna Hesse was born in a farmhouse near Frederick, South Dakota, population 200, during the depression and devastating drought conditions of 1928. Life was tough growing up on the farm. Their first good crops of wheat, oats, and corn weren’t until 1940 when weather conditions finally improved. During these hard times the family learned to work together and they took turns “shocking the grain” and operating the “binder”. She graduated from Barnard Consolidated High School in 1945 and at 22 years of age drove her first car, a Chevrolet.