Donna Lea Nicholson (1937 - 2017)

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  • "John, Jim and I are currently out of state so not able to..."
    - Darleen and Jim Starry
  • "I have fond memories of Mrs. Nicholson. She was my..."
    - Steve Gruhn
  • "My thoughts are with John and family. Donna Nicholson was..."
    - Heidi Frost
  • "I was so sorry to hear about your loss. I have fond..."
    - Jen Partch-Briske
  • "What a wonderful kindergarten teacher she was! I have such..."
    - Stephanie Webb
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Donna Lea Nicholson passed away on Nov. 11, 2017, in Anchorage, Alaska, six days short of her 80th birthday.
Donna was born (2 lbs. 4 oz.) in Aberdeen, S.D., to Gerald and Florence Smalley; when her mother and father's health failed shortly thereafter, her uncle and aunt Walt and Mae Lewis took over and raised her to adulthood in Ellendale, N.D., where she attended elementary and secondary school and Ellendale Teacher's College. She began teaching in a one room country school in Merricourt, N.D., then taught in Jamestown, N.D.
She married John "Jack" Nicholson of Vancouver, Wash., on June 10, 1961. She and John taught in Battle Ground, Wash., for four years. In 1965, she and John traveled up the Alcan Highway and through Alaska in an old 1942 military Jeep with an 18 foot canoe on top and a tent trailer behind, then moved to Anchorage in 1966. She taught from the opening of the new Oceanview Elementary School under Principal Stu Motter, then Dick Blue who said in/to a faculty meeting that she "could teach a rock to read." Years later, she taught at Scenic Park Elementary before retiring in 1987, after teaching for 29 years. She dearly loved her students but was strong on discipline, to prepare them for life. She was a superb teacher of reading with phonics.
She played the piano and organ, had voice training which she happily used in teaching and church, and sang for many marriages, funerals and special occasions. She and John traveled throughout most of Baja, Mexico; New Zealand; southern Africa; four islands of Hawaii; the Yukon Territory; and loved to camp and RV in much of Alaska. She loved flowers and music (her favorite movie was The Sound of Music), and especially loved Alaska and North Dakota.
She had serious cancer surgery in 2011, which seriously returned in February 2017. Now John has lost the love of his life after 56 years of marriage, 51 of those years in Alaska.
A Memorial Service and reception will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, at St. John's Methodist Church on lower O'Malley Road, where she was a member for over 40 years. The family requests the attendees that bring flowers please take them home to enjoy as she did. If you wish to make a donation in Donna's name, please do so to the .

Funeral Home
Anchorage Funeral Home & Crematory
1800 Dare Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99515
(907) 345-2244
Funeral Home Details
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Published in Anchorage Daily News on Nov. 16, 2017
Please consider a donation, as requested by the family.