Donna J. Johnson
1956 - 2020
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Donna Jean Johnson, 63, artist, Special Olympian and Downs Syndrome angel, died May 6, 2020 in Boston from Covid-19 pneumonia. Donna was a multiple gold medalist in Bowling and Track and Field and twentyfive years ago, found a haven at Gateway Arts in Brookline where she could explore her talents and develop into an acclaimed artist. Painting became her passion and jewelry was her joy. Donna learned to speak after receiving specialized hearing aids at age 42. She was a forever child and also a lady. Donna was born November 4, 1956 in Miami, FL. to Lee P. Johnson of Ackworth, NH. and Katherine R. McDonough Johnson of Norwood, who have predeceased her. She is survived by siblings Mary Ellen Johnson, Richard Johnson, Judith Keefe (William), Shirley O'Neil, Beverly Penzell, twin Ronald Johnson (Stephanie), John Johnson and Cynthia Magnole (Anthony); Nieces Tina Huron (Jon) and Jessica Bollhoefer (Andrew); nephew Michael Magnole (Kim) and great-nephews Logan Bollhoefer and Charles Bollhoefer. Spending early years with her Aunt Del, Delia Haldane, Donna sustained close relationships with cousin Beverly McMillan and her children: Todd, Peter, Cindy and Lisa. Donna and her eight siblings Cherished the several weeks a year she spent with each of them and their friends around the country. Weekends in Winthrop with her sister and protector, Shirley O'Neil, Donna was able to stay physically active and fully engaged in life, including nurturing her special friendship with Joyce Gourdoupi in Brookline, visiting cousins and attending Catholic mass. Donna was a sweet, happy and gentle soul, while maintaining a sense of mischief and humor. She loved music, dancing, singing, jacuzzis, popsicles, babies, party dinners and was always ready to go out. Her biggest pleasure was traveling, whether to Miami, Port St. Lucie, New York or Chicago. Donna was authentic, full of love, a gift with a strong constitution. Every day she gave her best effort, always ever present, a dependable best friend and an honor to know. A celebration of Donnas loving life will be held when appropriate (at Gateway Arts in the coming months). Family preference for memorial contributions for Donna Jean is to please support in Brookline. The professionals, dedicated employees and the artists, Donna's colleagues, will make the most of much needed support at this time. We are also grateful to the Boston medical community for taking such good care of Donna Jean, particularly at the end of her life, helping us talk with her during this incredibly difficult time. Donna, we will forever miss you and the fun you brought to life.

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Published in The Brookline Tab from May 24 to Jun. 4, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Bell-O'Dea Funeral Home
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6 entries
June 9, 2020
My condolences to the family of Donna Johnson may she rest in peace
Debbie Kapitan
June 7, 2020
Please except my deepest sympathies to you and your family. As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.
Simone Taylor
May 26, 2020
Donna was such a treasure!! I had the pleasure of working with her at Gateway Arts and she was always such a sweetheart. She was a talented artist, a hard worker, and always had a great sense of humor. Her warm and loving spirit will be missed!
Erica Sutherland
May 26, 2020
I know that even though you have a loss, you still have some great memories. I hope those memories will give you comfort in knowing God is with you and your family lean on him in your time of sorrow.
Simone Taylor
May 24, 2020
Donna Jean Johnson was an amazing young lady. She was funny. And so very smart and talented. Those of us who knew Donna are the lucky one to have known her and had her in our lifes. She will be miss and will always be remembered and in our hearts ♥ RIP Donna Jean.
Maxie Magnole
May 24, 2020
Donna was an amazing artist, woman, stylish dresser, warm individual whm I worked with for over 20 years at Gateway Arts in Brookline, a stdio art center for individuals with special needs. Both Donna and her enthusiastic supportive family brought joy and great art to all.
We celebrate her life and art at and will honor her and the family in June on our website with the Beverly Bernson award. Rae Edelson, Director Gateway Arts
rae edelson
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