Loving. Caring. Charismatic. Kind. Supportive. Vibrant. A Great Lady, to which Donna would have responded, “Who are you calling a lady?” Donna died on Friday July 21, 2023 with her devoted husband John and cherished son Patrick at her side.
Born March 14, 1963, Donna was the fifth of seven children. Donna often said that she had a happy childhood, but it was overshadowed by the trauma she suffered when at age thirteen she lost her mother Mary (Barrett) Wharton followed at the age of seventeen, with the death of her father, John Wharton. After high school, Donna found several jobs to support herself, but one she really loved was at the Bessborough. It was during these years that Donna met and fell in love with her handsome Mountie John Hay. John’s RCMP postings during their early years of marriage took them to Uranium City, Pinehouse Lake, Shellbrook, and to the extreme isolation of Broughton Island located several hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle. A place of stark arctic beauty where several months of total darkness were followed by several months of total daylight. Never idle, Donna coped with these isolated and lonely postings through correspondence courses from the University of Guelph by which she earned her Master Gardener status. After John’s retirement from the RCMP, they moved to Indian Head, and finally returned to Saskatoon, her beloved hometown. Sons Patrick and Johnathon were born during John’s postings at Uranium City and Pinehouse. John had a son Douglas from a previous marriage, who Donna loved as her own. Always at her side was one of many adored dogs.
Donna’s Master Gardener certificate led to a gratifying twenty-seven year career as a technician with the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan. Her curiosity and fascination with nature resulted in the development of several unique lilies being registered with the Royal Horticultural Society, the most outstanding of all being the lily registered as Lilium University of Saskatchewan which she gifted to the university to celebrate its centennial. She was grateful to the people who encouraged her singing career and the talented musicians who supported her. Humble, and never wanting the spotlight, she gladly liked to share the stage with others. Despite the devastating sudden, tragic loss of Johnathon in 2005, Donna was able to move forward by seeing the beauty in life. She always chose to focus on the good in people. She brought positive energy and put people at ease with her remarkable sense of humour. Donna’s family said that she filled the home with laughter many times every day. If she could laugh at something, regardless of how inappropriate, that was the path to take. Ending every performance with Wonderful World, and making the final song of her last CD with Here’s to Life was her way of encouraging people to appreciate all life has to offer. She lived with the motto "No regrets." She often said that if she were to relive her life, she would not change anything. Donna could not defeat the cancer that finally took her from us, but one of her final requests was that we remind everyone that her life was, in her words, “kick ass” wonderful.
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