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Donna Mae Michalski passed away on June 30, 2014. She was born on August 17, 1926, in Sioux City, Iowa.
Donna was reared by her maternal grandparents, Edward and Frances Bartch. Edward was a highway paving superintendent and Donna would often tell stories of life on the road following paving work around the upper Midwest. Whenever Donna would see a modern paving operation she would remark "You know, Dad performed a lot of that work with steam and horses."
As the depression deepened in the early 1930s, Edward moved his family to a farm he had rented in the small northern Minnesota town of Carleton. Edward reasoned that although life would be hard, at least they would have food. The family prospered and Edward was able to purchase a farm on Highway 61 in Willow River, Minnesota, a farm that Donna owns to this day. Donna would say of those times on the farm, "I never knew we were poor."
The allure of city life beckoned and after graduating with honors from Willow River High School she moved to the Twin Cities. In the big city Donna encountered both disappointment and joy. Although she was denied admission to the St. Paul College of Law, being told, "We do not accept women" she would later be accepted to the University of Minnesota.
Donna also found employment at the Donaldson Company. She rose quickly, soon becoming a supervisor. It was at the Donaldson Company that Donna met Thomas Michalski, who on April 12, 1947, became her husband.
Both Donna and Tom entered the University of Minnesota. However Donna chose to place dreams of graduation on hold to become a mother through adoption. Tom finished his degree in accounting in 1954 and was accepted into the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a special agent. As an agents wife, Donna and her new family were on the road again. Washington D.C.; Dallas, Texas; Wichita Falls, Texas and Sandusky, Ohio were assignments along the way to her home in Toledo.
The year was 1960 when Donna returned to college. This time at the University of Toledo. Donna graduated with a Master of Arts degree with honors and was invited to become a member of Mensa International. Also, at this time, thanks to recommendations made by her friend and advisor, Dr. Richard Boyer, Donna was offered a full scholarship to study at Oxford University in England through the Fulbright Program.
Donna taught honors classes in the Toledo Public School system. She started her career as a student teacher at Roy C. Start HS under the tutelage of Mrs. Helene Sanzenbacher. After graduation in 1966, she was assigned to teach at Scott HS. She finished her teaching career at Waite HS.
In retirement, Donna and Tom remained active in numerous activities, organizations, and groups. She and Tom maintained a vacation home in Sturgeon Lake, Minnesota and a retirement home in Mission, Texas. The couple collected and refurbished thousands of stuffed animal toys which were donated to law enforcement in Ohio and Texas to hand out to small children experiencing traumatic situations. For their effort, they were recognized by the Former Special Agents of the FBI with a humanitarian award in 2004.
To remain fit they enjoyed ballroom dancing and competition roller skating. While wintering in Texas, Donna and Tom joined a clog dancing group that performed in many of the regions nursing homes and senior centers. She was an accomplished organist having been a student of Doris McCarthy. She was also active in Toastmasters International. She was an excellent seamstress and made clothing and costumes for competitive roller skating. Her home contains many afghans and wall hangings which she made. To her close friends and family, she was a walking encyclopedia.
Donna was preceded in death by her brothers, Robert and Clyde. She is survived by her husband, Tom; son, Daniel (Brenda) and grandson, Grant.
Graveside Services will be held on Saturday, July 5, 2014, at 2:30 p.m. at Wakeman Cemetery, 621 Farnsworth Rd. in Waterville, OH. An open house to follow immediately at the home of Thomas Michalski, 3975 Secluded Ravine Court, Maumee, Ohio.
Donna and the Michalski family are forever grateful to Cherie, Nancy, Julie, Mary, Tiffany, Amanda and Brenda of Per Diem Nurse Staffing & Home Care who gave Donna comfort and loving care for many years. The Michalski family also wish to thank the entire staff of the Arrowhead Dialysis Center.
In lieu of flowers, Donna and Tom ask that you please consider donating to the Alzheimer Research Foundation. Arrangements by Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home, Maumee, Ohio. Online condolences and message may be shared with the family at
Walker Funeral Home
5155 West Sylvania Avenue Toledo, OH 43623
Published in Toledo Blade on July 3, 2014