Lena Donald

Obituary of Lena Donald

DONALD: Magdalena “Lena” (nee Mokelky) passed away peacefully at Hillcrest Place on Thursday, July 21, 2022, in the presence of family in person and in spirit.


Lena was born in Steelman, SK.  on April 27, 1923, the second eldest child and the oldest daughter of 13 children born to Nicolas and Magdalena Mokelky who had immigrated separately from different parts of eastern Europe in search of better lives.  Lena’s position in the family and in an impoverished farming community taught her the values of hard work and to be always mindful of the needs of others.


When she left home, it was to learn more about caring for others.  She trained as a Licensed Practical Nurse at St. Boniface Sanitorium and completed her program in 1944.  Her employment enabled her to send home money and dresses to help give some of her younger siblings the childhood she never had.


While working in McCreary, she met a young Manitoba Power Commission lineman, Bill Donald.  They were married on September 22, 1953.  In the fall of 1957, after several short-term moves they arrived in Rivers which they decided was the place they wanted to raise their family.  When they arrived, they had a three-year-old, Lawrence, and Norma arrived early in the new year.  Twenty months later they moved into their newly constructed home and “the twins”, Sandra and Orville arrived.


From the time of her marriage, Lena embarked on her new career, to be the best wife, mother, and homemaker she could be.  Without the benefit of Google, she regularly scanned the pages of Good Housekeeping, Chatelaine, Ladies’ Home Journal and Redbook together with the newspapers in search of recipes and other tips that found their way into binders and into her family’s life.  Her children didn’t realize how good they’d had it until they returned home in later years and learned from other sources that she was now entering numerous classes in the Rivers Summer Fair and was winning multiple first place ribbons and other prizes, and other former residents were traveling back to support community bake sales in the hope of scoring one (or more) of her pies.


As her family matured, Lena was quick to lend a hand in the community, starting with teaching Sunday School at Rivers United Church and later singing in the choir and serving as treasurer.  She was an active member of the United Church Women, the Riverdale Hospital Auxiliary and later the Ladies Auxiliary of the Royal Canadian Legion.  In addition, she supported other less structured causes and actively supported her husband as he pursued higher profile community service.   She always enjoyed the opportunity to curl, golf and play cards with various groups of ladies when time permitted, and did yoga in the living room in front of the TV before it was cool to do so.


The demands of family life had prevented her from working outside the home in the early years of her marriage.   Faced with an empty nest in the late 1970s she recertified as an L.P.N. in 1981 and enjoyed a renewed career from which she retired 14 years later at the age of 72.  During this time, she established her own identity at Riverdale Hospital as a caring and compassionate nurse and was no longer “Bill’s wife” or “mother of Lawrence/Norma/Sandra/Orville”.


While her parents had severed all ties with their east European roots, she happily embraced the Scottish ancestry of her in-laws.  She and Bill enjoyed several trips to Scotland and enjoyed the Canadian visits of some of the Scottish relatives.  When Scotland wasn’t on the itinerary, they enjoyed several bus excursions and travel to Hawaii and Arizona, and up until Bill passed away in 2001, winters in Victoria.  Visiting with, or entertaining children and grandchildren wherever they happened to be living, or at home in Rivers, was always special for her and the source of many memories for those she has left behind.


Lena gave up her home and life in Rivers in the spring of 2009 and made her home at Lions Manor in Brandon to be closer to the support of family.  She enjoyed her life there and was an active participant until hearing impairment, dementia, and aphasia led to the need for her to receive the care and compassion she had always conferred upon others.  In the fall of 2016, she made Hillcrest Place Personal Care Home her home.  While she eventually accepted the reality that her pots and pans had been taken from her, she never totally accepted that she was now in need of care from others.


Lena was predeceased by her son Orville (1982) and her husband Bill (2001) and all but one of her siblings and three sisters-in-law.  She leaves to cherish her memory: a son, Lawrence (Brenda) and two daughters, Norma Schock (Wayne) and Sandra George (Ian); six grandchildren, Erika, Sean, Alena, Kurtis (Kate), Ryan (Katie), and Kelly; three great grandchildren, Henry, Elliot, and Zoe; a brother, John; sisters-in-law Dorothy, Shirley and Dorothy; and numerous nephews and nieces.


The family would like to thank the staff at Hillcrest Place for their care and attention shown to our mother during her six and one-half years there.  Her cremated remains will be interred at a private graveside service, Rev. Craig Miller of Knox United Church to preside, followed by a private celebration of her life.  Those who wish are encouraged to make donations to the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba at 4B – 457 Ninth St. Brandon, MB. R7A 1K2, or to their charity of choice.  

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