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 family farm. Their first good crops of wheat, oats, and corn weren’t until 1940 when weather conditions finally improved. During these difficult times the family learned to work together and they took turns “shocking the grain” and operating the “binder”. Her father was a strict disciplinarian and forbid the woman to work in the barn which meant no milking the cows. Her dad said, “It was a man’s job”. Donna graduated from Barnard Consolidated High School in 1945 and at 22 years of age drove her first car, a Chevrolet. While working in Denver, Colorado, Donna met Marvin in 1956. They married in 1958 and one year later moved to Phoenix. Relocating to a warmer climate away from the snowy Midwest was physically important after Marvin had a life changing injury that rendered him wheelchair bound. Donna worked as a secretary for Garrett Turbine Engine Company for 30 years and retired in 1988.
Also, Donna is a proud Great-Great Aunt! She has seven nieces and nephews, twelve greats, and eleven great greats. When Donna was first looking for a new assisted living home, a co-worker friend suggested she visit The Springs of Scottsdale. Donna followed through and was pleasantly impressed with the large spacious rooms, three daily meals provided, and 24/7 caregiving available when needed. Donna has lived at the Springs of Scottsdale for over 6 years and enjoys enriching her life with several favorite activities and building new friendships. One of her hobbies is researching the family’s genealogy and learning about her Scottish/Norwegian ancestry. This well-seasoned 89 year old commented, “One is never too old to learn something new!” This type of positive attitude has carried her through some of life’s most difficult challenges such as taking care of her belated paraplegic husband and surviving the depression era. Donna dreams of someday visiting Alaska and Portugal. In August her dream will halfway come true. The Springs’ Activity Team is hosting a Cruise Ship like experience aboard the S.S. Springs vessel in which one of their ports will be in Ketchikan, Alaska. This particular ship stop includes the rustic Gold Panning Adventure, the hilarious Staff Moose Run, and awe inspiring Northern Lights room.
Donna enjoys her weekly outings to Fry’s Foods, Chase bank, and CVS drugstore. She said, “I feel lost if I miss a trip!” Her other pastimes include tinkering with computer email, playing the piano, and going to the in-house entertainment venues. Donna we are grateful to have you in our senior community and appreciate your warm smile that brightens the lives of those around you. Happy Trails!
Interviewed by T.S.M.