Geraldine (Gerri) Toy Donahue, of Mauston, loving wife, mother, and artist, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at Casa de Oakes, in Reedsburg, WI. She was born on May 11, 1928 in Kittaning PA, the 3rd of 6 children of Lloyd and Sadie Toy Bowser.
She is survived by her husband of 61 years, Robert (Bob) Donahue, two daughters Carrie Donahue and Emma (Dan) McClintock, all of Mauston; and her granddaughters Anna McClintock and Bailee (Andy) Marx. She was preceded in death by her brothers Bud and Richard, and survived by her brother David Bowser (Nancy) and her sisters Eileen and Sara Lee.
Gerri grew up in Knox, PA graduating from Knox High School in 1946. She attended at least 10 colleges and universities, earning several degrees. First, a BS in Education from Florida State in 1956, then a Masters in Special Education from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 1958, and finally, a BA in Fine Art’s in 1996 in Carrollton, GA. She also attended Nursery Training School in Boston and studied French at the Sorbonne in Paris, France.
While at the U of Illinois, she met and fell in love with Robert Donahue. They married in Urbana in 1959. Through the years they lived and made friends everywhere they went. Carrie (1961) and Emma (1963) were born in Ithaca NY. The family later made homes in Bonifay FL, Oshkosh WI, Atlanta GA, Newnan GA (25 years), and lastly, moved back to Mauston WI in 2002 to be closer to family.
Gerri was a very artistic person, with talents in music, literature and fine arts. She played drums in high school, and harp in college. She wrote many short stories and children’s stories and was published in the DeKalb literary arts journal in Georgia.
Songwriting attracted her interest in the 80’s. Joining many different workshops, she wrote some lyrics for Bob’s music, but mostly crafted her own unique style. She was proud to finish in 3rd place in an Atlanta Songwriters Association contest.
In the 90s her interest turned to art and painting. In her 60’s, Gerri went back to school for an art degree. She was very prolific at this time, sold some works, and leaves behind many beautiful paintings in the homes of her loved ones.
In the 80’s she also discovered Football and was a great fan of the Atlanta Falcons. She transitioned to the Green Bay Packers when she and Bob moved to Wisconsin in 2002 to be near their soon to be born granddaughter Anna.
Geri had a very positive energy – she was the engine that ran the family when we were growing up. She decorated and furnished our homes- mostly with thrift store and garage sale finds; and loved to remodel. She was mostly a stay at home mom, and provided us with a great childhood. We always tell people that we were of that lucky generation that had Mom at home.
She loved to read, loved the TV show “Friends” – and then was very much a fan of the reality TV genre –Survivor, the Amazing Race and of course all of the Real Housewives.
Through the years she loved many great dogs, starting with Babe, then Bart, Blue, Brunhilde, Lady, Buddy and finally Buster.
In her later years, her greatest joy was her granddaughter Anna. They were purely beautiful together.
Gerri loved life and spread joy; She was loved deeply and will be missed greatly.
Our family would like to thank the staff at Casa De Oaks for their compassionate care over the last 3 years. Online condolences can be made at Roseberry’s Funeral Home www.roseberrys.com. At this time, no services are planned. In lieu of flowers, Memorials may be made to The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America https://alzfdn.org or Cure Alzheimer’s Fund https://curealz.org