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Life Story / Obituary
A gracious and resilient woman, Donna Galer was a dear woman to know and love. She was devoted to her family and fully immersed herself into her role as a mother, but she just may have argued that being a grandmother was the role of a lifetime. There were so many things that enriched Donna’s life through the years, yet nothing was better than sharing those things with the ones she loved. Life was not without times of trial for her, but she was content in all things, accepting both the great joys and the deep sorrows of life. Donna’s legacy of compassion, selflessness, and unconditional love will live on in the lives of those who follow her.
As the 1930s dawned in America people braced themselves for what was to come as the crash of the stock market in 1929 sent us into the downward spiral of the Great Depression. The days of this decade were some of the toughest our nation has ever faced as countless people were without work, which soon left them without homes and in search of work wherever they could find it - even if it meant moving clear across the country. Despite the hardship around them a young couple from Coopersville, Michigan, was focused on an exciting time in their lives as they were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby. Their wait was over on July 8, 1930, when they welcomed a healthy baby girl into their hearts and home. Baby Donna was the second of five children born to her parents, Louis and Evelyn (Blonshine) Eden, and was raised in the family home in Coopersville alongside her siblings. Her father worked as a milkman while her mother was a homemaker. As a student Donna attended local schools where she was a classmate of Del Shannon.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Donna when she met the man with whom she would establish the family she adored. His name was Carlton Galer, and they began dating not long after they met. With a desire to establish a life together Donna and Carlton were married after she completed her 11th grade year. The newlyweds settled in the Walker area where the young husband worked as a mechanic for the Yellow Cab Company. Donna also cheered her husband on at Berlin Raceway where he raced cars.
It wasn’t long before the couple began welcoming children into the family home at 421 Dudley, NE. Together they were blessed with three sons, Wayne, Carl, and Ron, and one daughter, Terri. Donna was dedicated to caring for their children, yet she also took time to spend with her husband. It was always a big deal when the two of them could go out to the Glass Hut or the Shrimp Basket. Donna was also close to her neighbors at their home on Dudley including Kathy and Buzz, Marge and Jack Austin, and Doris. She always looked forward to getting together for drinks and lively card games with these close friends. As an avid card player Donna also loved the Friday and Saturday night card playing tradition with her kids. Both Donna and her children were given a tough pill to swallow with Carlton’s sudden death in 1972. She was only 42 at the time and had four children to raise on her own.
Nothing was better than when Donna became a grandmother a bit later in life. From the moment they were born her grandchildren were her life, and she made herself available to watch them at any time. Sometimes Donna’s boys would bring their children over so they could go to the “store.” Whenever her grandchildren came over she always made goulash, which meant that if they came over three times in one week it was goulash three times that week! As both a candy lover and a frugal shopper who loved getting a good deal, Donna stocked up on candy whenever possible, often handing out Christmas candy for Easter. In order to keep it away from her grandchildren, Donna almost always kept it in her dryer!
Throughout her life there were many things that Donna enjoyed. She was a genuine nature lover who always had birdseed out her window, which drew countless birds nearby for her to watch. Donna also befriended a squirrel she named Frankie by putting out crackers and peanut butter for him. He was always so much fun to watch. She enjoyed spending time in her kitchen, and some of her most famous dishes were her pickled bologna and salmon patties, although she had a tendency to leave the boiler on just a bit longer than she should. Watching television was one of the ways Donna enjoyed passing the time with shows like Hee Haw and Green Valley Jamboree in addition to soap operas, The Price Is Right, and Jeopardy being among her favorites. She never could get enough of listening to Elvis music and had a weakness for chocolate and Cherry Coke. During her younger years she enjoyed fishing, usually for pan fish.
Later in life Donna continued to treasure the days she was given, even when more difficult times came her way. Breaking one hip in 2004 and then the other in 2006 left her in need of more supervision and help from her children. It was around that same time that Donna moved to a home at 1516 Emerald Avenue, NE, which allowed her daughter Terri to serve as her main caregiver while her sons helped out when needed as well. When she needed more care in 2009 Donna moved to the Christian Rest Home where she remained for the rest of her life.
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Donna Galer made a significant impact in the hearts and lives of those around her. Her devotion to her family was unmatched, and her love for life was contagious to all those within her reach. Donna will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.
Mrs. Donna J. Galer, aged 81, of Grand Rapids passed away on March 16, 2012. She was preceded in death by her husband, Carlton and grandson, Michael. Donna is survived by her children, Wayne Galer, Carlton II (Cathy) Galer, Ron (Sue) Galer, and Terri (Charles) Dykstra; grandchildren, Tara (Tom) Stricklen, Lindsey (Tom) Ratering, Ryan Galer, Lisa (Brian) Stone, Crystal (Ryan) Dargie, David Galer and Jacob Dykstra; and great-grandchildren, Brittney, Angela, Dakota “Koko”, Brian, Katie, and Jack. Also surviving are her siblings, Gene (Sharon) Eden, Charles (Sally) Eden, and Betty Rolfe; brother-in-law, G erry (Carol) Galer; sisters-in-law, Luania (Jim) Lewis and Lorraine Haisma; and many nieces and nephews. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11 AM on Monday at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 851 Leonard St. NW. Friends may visit with the family at the funeral home from 6-8 on Sunday and on Monday for one hour prior to the service. Contributions in her memory to the Christian Rest Home would be appreciated. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read Donna's lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.