With profound sadness we announce the passing of Donna Mae Venlos on May 4th, 2020. She was our loving and devoted mother and a friend to all whose lives she touched.
Donna left us while sleeping peacefully at her residence a few short weeks after her 87th year.
She was the beloved mother of Susan Venlos, William Christopher Venlos and Wendy Venlos-Becker. Donna was the proud grandmother of Kristan, Rachel, Michael, Lauren, Cameron, Mason and Emerson. She was a dear great-grandmother to Jack, Abigail and Lucy Mae.
She was preceded in death by her loving husband William George Venlos and sister Betty Tomlinson.
Donna Mae Venlos was born on the family farm in Fessenden, North Dakota on April 9th, 1933. She was born to the proud parents of William and Alma (Hagen) Schulz. In 1939, she moved to Chicago with her parents and older sister, Betty where she lived on Pontiac Avenue in Chicago. She attended Lakeview High School and graduated in 1951.
During the Korean War she met her loving and devoted husband William George Venlos, who served in the First Marine Corp Division. They were married in November of 1955.
Donna was educated and graduated from Grant Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago in 1954. She was dedicated to her service as a Registered Nurse working in Obstetrics at Grant Hospital for forty years. She treasured children and embraced every moment with them.
Donna lived a full life as a wonderful mother and homemaker. Donna and her husband, Bill retired to their “Heaven on Earth” located in Galena, IL in 1994. Together, they bought their land and built a beautiful home. Years later, her family found their telephone number listed in their old address book under “F” for Fantasy Acres, which Donna called their home.
A farm girl at heart, gardening was her passion. She tended to her gardens filled with flowers and was proud to be part of the Galena Garden Walks for many years. She loved her walks outdoors, loved nature and every homeless, wild animal that she could manage to feed. The deer would stop by for apples, the wild turkeys would come in groups of twenty for their seed, and she kept a glass cookie jar on her kitchen counter for the raccoons. Her most prized visitor was Reggie, the peacock. He would strut his beautiful colorful plumes along-side the wild turkeys gathering in the yard. Donna was always so proud to share his presence with friends who would stop by for a visit. She would always bring carrots for Jack the donkey, who lived down the road on her way to the stables to pet the horses. At night, she loved her fires that she built in her fireplace and she would just sit peacefully with her cat, Barney on her lap while she listened to her to classical music.
Donna was very talented and loved music. She played piano beautifully and I don’t think people realized that she couldn’t read a note of music. Every note she played, she played from memory or by ear, and she never had to turn a page of sheet music. Her favorite piece that she played was “Clair De Lune” by Debussy and now that she’s passed, none of her children will hear that song without getting teary eyed. Donna supported the arts and attended the symphony in Dubuque every season with friends. When Donna was younger, she participated in community theater, and later in life she was so proud to attend the concerts and plays that all her grandchildren were involved over the years.
She was an excellent cook and belonged to the Galena Gourmet Club. She enjoyed hosting dinner parties at her beautiful home and attending dinner parties at the homes of others. She loved baking for her family and would be up at the crack of dawn making her fresh blueberry muffins from scratch, along with freshly brewed coffee. You weren’t allowed to start your day in Galena unless you had one of each.
In the Summer, Donna enjoyed golfing with her women’s club team, called the “Teabags”. In the Winter, she enjoyed her weekly outings to the local bowling alley in Galena to spend time with her league. In the Fall, she loved to fish on her pontoon boat with her husband Bill, and always reminded him that whatever they caught he had to clean. They usually threw everything back in the lake and decided to go into town and eat dinner at the Log Cabin Restaurant!
Donna enjoyed life to the fullest and yet she was able to enjoy peace and solitude living in Galena. She always said she was never alone because her husband, Bill was always with her even after he passed away from cancer 2003. She always kissed his picture every night before going to bed and the lipstick prints on the glass showed the love and comfort it gave her. She went to bed each night and she wasn’t alone because she had our father’s love in her heart. That’s the one comfort you get when you lose someone you love because you will always have them in your heart - and that is truly a blessing. Donna was a beautiful, strong, independent women who will dearly be missed and forever in our hearts.
A celebration of Donna’s life will be held in the future, and our family hopes you will be able to join us at that time to remember Donna and all the lives that she touched.
The Family of Donna Mae Venlos
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