Donna Marie Dunn (Robar), 64, of West Bolton, VT passed peacefully with beauty and grace on the evening of October 12th, 2019 at home with her loving family by her side. After a glorious day with all of the maples ablaze, she soared into the loving arms of our Lord in heaven. She staged a heroic 3 year battle with primary peritoneal and ovarian cancer with the courage and strength of a warrior goddess. Her spirit shone with grace, passion and love throughout her fight as it did throughout her entire life.
Born on April 3rd, 1955 in Burlington, VT to Moses and Rita Robar, Donna was the 3rd of 6 children to grow up at 29 Algird St in the New North End. She worked her way through the Burlington public school system, and graduated with the class of 1973 from Burlington High School. Donna was an outstanding artist who excelled in many mediums, but especially pastels and pencil drawing. She thrived in athletics and enjoyed participating in gymnastics, basketball, and field hockey. She was an active girl scout who at one point was featured on the cover of Girl Scout magazine. Through her time in scouts, Donna developed a deep connection and love of nature. She went on to lead a girl scout troop for over a decade later in life, culminating in an educational 10 day trip to Germany, Switzerland and Austria with her co-leader. Furthering her education years later, Donna accrued 88 credits through Burlington College, concentrating mostly in education and business administration.
On July 5th, 1975, Donna married Richard Dunn, Jr. at Saint Mark’s church in Burlington. Soon thereafter, they moved to Germany as Richard was serving for the U.S. Army. Over the next three years, they traveled extensively in Europe, cultivating their mutual love of travel and exploration that they would share for the next 44 years. One of the highlights of their travels was inviting Donna’s mom Rita to join them in Rome to celebrate Palm Sunday at The Vatican with the Pope. During Donna’s time in Germany, she worked as a MOS Librarian as well as a registrar for 2 colleges. Dick and Donna returned to Vermont in 1978, where they went on to purchase an antique farmhouse in West Bolton and start a family. The couple worked tirelessly to create their homestead built on hard work, love and trust. They cultivated many flower and vegetable gardens and raised sheep, turkeys, pigs and german shepards dogs over the years.
Donna had an uncanny ability to relate to children and teach them with a nurturing manner that was filled with mutual love and respect. This was evident through her time teaching special needs children at Jericho Elementary School, her lessons in Mimi’s classroom for her granddaughters, and her time as a Girl Scout leader. She was also a cook of the highest order, who loved baking with her little helpers as well as facilitating tea parties, and sharing her love of arts and crafts.
As a mother, Donna guided her children and grandchildren with a steady hand and demeanor, extreme compassion, a world of talent and the nurturing of passion that was unwavering. She supported her children’s pursuit of academics, athletics, professional careers, and music with a fierce devotion. Family was everything to her, and she was everything to them.
Donna loved to dance and could shake it with the best of ‘em. She had rhythm and style and relished the transporting qualities of music. She and Dick had the best collection of eclectic music that you could ever hear. Their taste in music was lauded by many and the music they filled their household with carried on to the next generation, creating lifelong fans of music in Sunni and Jesse. Celebrating together at live concerts was a constant pursuit of happiness. Some of our favorite memories revolve around dancing in the family kitchen, on top of Stimson Mountain, in the heart of Bolton. Her home was an extension of all the beautiful traits of Donna: warm, inviting, and filled with love, laughter and acceptance.
Donna was a dynamic personality who was the epitome of human decency. Raised on a foundation of street smarts, she treated everyone she met as an equal. She displayed kindness and humility in each interaction. Kindness was a guiding force in her life. She built strong friendships everywhere she went; many of those friendships she fostered and treasured throughout her lifetime. Filled with boundless energy, vibrance and a zest for life, Donna was always ready for any occasion or adventure. Years of family trips to the seaside, up to the tops of the beautiful mountains, and camping throughout New England built phenomenal memories that she and her family hold dear. She had an exquisite eye for detail, and was able to glean beauty from the smallest things in life.
She was an authentic storyteller and purveyor of tradition. Everyone was welcome in her household, and she was the proverbial hostess with the mostess. Her cooking was unmatched and she was always willing to try a new recipe. Her creations were tantalizing and delectable and she enjoyed nothing more than sharing her recipes with others. She enjoyed antiques and collecting mementos, mantras, and decorations for the holidays. Christmas was a cherished event, and it was always a highly anticipated time of year where Donna’s collections of Santas, snowmen, nativity sets, Alpine Villages and more were on full display.
Throughout the years, Donna maintained an incredible work ethic in anything she tackled. After her time teaching in Jericho, she went on to work in records and administration for orthodontics, as a contact lens technician in an eye care office, and most recently as a medical records specialist at Associates in Orthopedic Surgery in Burlington. She was the most organized and detail oriented person you could ever meet. This carried into her being the ultimate tour guide for her family and friends on any trip they were to embark upon.
Donna was the consummate friend. From her time on Algird Street to her years on Notch Road, she developed many lifelong friendships and bonds that will stand the test of time. It should be noted that Donna left an enduring mark on folks that she met for only a brief period of time as well. She was an inspiration to many.
Donna was and will continue to be a brilliant beacon of light shining on anyone who had the privilege of knowing her, especially her husband, children, and grandchildren. Her incredible LOVE for her family will remain her legacy.
She is survived by her loving husband, Richard F. Dunn, Jr., daughter Sunni Eriksen (Michael), and granddaughters Sienna and Myra of Northfield, VT, son Jesse Dunn (Jenni), and granddaughter Mabel of Lake Tahoe, CA, mother Rita Robar, sisters Alana Dion and Randi Robar, brother Darrell Robar, sister-in-law Jodi Rotax, and many devoted friends and family members. She was predeceased by her father Moses Robar Sr., her brothers Moses Robar Jr., Gerard Robar and Randall Robar.
We would like to thank all of the doctors and nurses who treated Donna throughout her cancer journey from the bottom of our hearts, including but not limited to UVMMC, Champlain Valley Hematology Oncology, and UVM Home Health and Hospice.
Family and friends are encouraged to visit at the Gifford Funeral Home at 22 Depot st. in Richmond, VT on Friday, October 18th from 4pm to 7pm. A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, October 19th at Richmond Congregational Church at 1:30pm, with a reception to follow at Cochran’s Ski Area at 910 Cochran Rd. in Richmond.
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