Dona Faye Nielson Larsen
1928 - 2014
Dona Faye Nielson Larsen was born on April 5, 1928. She was the daughter of Vera Rinderknecht Nielson and John William Nielson. She was married to Dorrell Cole Larsen (who passed away November 2, 2013) for 63 years. Dona passed away in Boise on September 18, 2014, at the age of 86, surrounded by her loved ones.
Dona was raised on a farm in Cornish, Utah and was the youngest of three children. She had fond memories of growing up with her sister, Doris Josephine, and her brother, Arlyn William. Dona attended Utah State University where she graduated in Physical Education and played softball and volleyball. She was president of the Women's Athletic Association and was an officer in the SPUR program, a service-oriented women's group. She also was president and sweetheart of Lambda Delta Sigma and queen of the Gold and Green Ball. She married the love of her life, Dorrell, in the Logan LDS Temple on August 11, 1950. They moved to Moscow, Idaho where Dorrell completed a degree in Agricultural Engineering, eventually settling in Boise in 1956. Together they built a life of productivity and faith, being blessed with ten children, six girls and four boys. While raising her children, Dona stayed involved with athletics by coaching her daughters' softball teams in the Highlands. She gained a reputation for skill and fairness, which eventually led to directing the Girls' Softball and Basketball programs for Boise City Recreation for seven years.
In 1970, Dona began teaching P.E. fulltime at East Jr. High. She coached Girls' Volleyball and Track every year that she taught there and her teams won more than twenty city championships during this time. She enjoyed coaching and was very proud of her students and their successes. She coordinated Jump Rope For Heart for the American Heart Association
at East Jr. High on an annual basis. She walking to school every day, which helped her stay in great shape.
In 1980, Dona and Dorrell took a sabbatical and completed their master's degrees, hers in P.E. and his in Agricultural Engineering, at Utah State University. Education was always of utmost importance. All ten of her children graduated from East Jr. High and Boise High and went on to get college degrees, with nearly all completing graduate degrees. Dona received the Red Apple Award in 1999 from the Boise City School District in recognition of her outstanding achievement and innovation as a teacher. Her dedication to the East Jr. High Hornets was legendary, ranking right up there with her great apple pie! She occasionally taught classes at East in Home Economics and English, a perfect fit because she was an excellent seamstress, cook and grammarian. Dona taught and coached thirty years, retiring in 2000 at the age of 72. She was a trailblazer, graduating from college at a time when few women did and helping to ensure that the girls sports' programs got the emphasis and time commitment they deserved.
Dona always knew the value of service; she served well at home, at school, in her church and in her community. She and Dorrell served an LDS service mission to the First Nations people of Canada that they enjoyed greatly. She was a devoted lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a member of the Boise First Ward, formerly Foothills East. She served in many callings, such as Primary President, Young Women President and Ward and Stake Sports Director. She loved the gospel and served well in all she did.
She was a very disciplined, hard worker with endless energy, and she loved competition; she walked at a faster pace than people half her age, often advising to "use your arms" to help pick up the pace. She participated in many running and endurance events for seniors, always placing very well in them. She loved her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, her beautiful home, her church and faith, her dogs (especially Raider and Goliath), ping pong, living in downtown Boise, working in the yard, visiting her cabin in McCall and visiting with friends. Dona loved to travel with Dorrell and enjoyed seeing many different countries.
She will be greatly missed, but she has left a lasting legacy. She was especially humbled when the old East Jr. High site became part of Boise State University and was renamed Dona Larsen Park in her honor. It also meant a lot to her that the park was named one of the "Ribbon of Jewels" parks by Boise City Parks and Recreation. Her roots run deep in Boise; she truly loved the people and being a part of the community and was so moved by this recognition and legacy.
Remaining to cherish her memory are her ten children: Melodie, Cindy (Mark Anderson), Debra (David Huber), Kim (Susan), Jay (Angela), Darla, Laura (Michael Graff), Mark (Suzzie), Michael (Jennifer) and Holly; 31 grandchildren (Braden, Davis, Ivy, Alyssa, Nathaniel, Alexander, Austin, Brock, Skyler, Alexis, Agatha, Larsen, Clara, Hannah, Logan, McCall, Sinclaire, Cole, Sydney, Jamison, Vincent, Logan Tyco, Kincaid, Riley, Grace, Daniel, Luke, Lars, Liam, Gunnar and Carter); and seven great-grandchildren (Isla, Claire, Landon, Noah, Haley, Ruby and Grayson). Dona's family would like to thank the staff at Emerson House and XL Hospice for their caring service and friendship.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 27, 2014 at the Boise East Stake Center, 2290 Warm Springs Ave., Boise. A viewing will be held prior to the service from 9:30-10:45 a.m. at the church. Family will also greet friends from 4:30-6:15 p.m. on Friday, September 26, 2014 at Relyea Funeral Chapel, 318 N. Latah St., Boise. Interment will immediately follow the service at Pioneer Cemetery, Boise.
There will also be a balloon release at the Boise High School Homecoming game (between the 1st and 2nd quarters) at Dona Larsen Park on Friday night, September 26, to celebrate and remember Dona Larsen's life. The family would like to extend a special invitation to attend the service to the faculty that worked with Dona and to those students that Dona coached and taught since this was among the great joys and loves of her life. Remembrances may be made to the Dona Larsen-East Jr. High Memorial Fund, Jump Rope For Heart, American Heart Association
, Western States Affiliate, P.O. Box 4002030, Des Moines, Iowa 50340-9030.
Published by Idaho Statesman on Sep. 24, 2014.