TOPSHAM -- Donna Wagley, 90, died on May 9, 2013, after a tireless battle with old age.
Donna was born on June 6, 1922, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the sixth of eight children. At age 11, she moved with her family to Los Angeles, Calif., where her father had found work. She came of age just as World War II was starting, and enlisted with the Marine Women's Reserve Corps. As a Marine, she traveled all over the country by train, became a Morse code operator and achieved the rank of sergeant. After the war, she lived in New York City, where she met and married William "Bill" Wagley after a brief courtship. They attended the University of Iowa together. When Bill joined the foreign service, she traveled with him to Thailand, Guatemala (where their daughter Sally was born in 1956), Cuba and Japan. In these places, she did volunteer work and taught English. Between foreign posts, they lived in Washington, D.C. When she and Bill divorced in the mid-1970s, Donna remained in Washington, which she considered home.
After divorcing, Donna developed a career as an accountant with two D.C.-based nonprofit organizations, Wider Opportunities for Women and Reading Is Fundamental.
After retiring in the late 1990s, she volunteered in President Clinton's White House, answering letters from children. She also volunteered as a reader to the blind. She loved classical music and had season tickets to the Kennedy Center.
In 2006, Donna moved to Topsham to be closer to her family. Although she missed Washington, she grew to love the Brunswick area and to consider it her home, replacing the Washington Post with the Portland Press Herald as her daily paper (always reading it cover to cover). Although she was not a "joiner," she had a great sense of humor, loved talking to people and made many good friends.
Donna enjoyed 80 years of excellent health, but in her last decade she faced a lot of illness. In spite of her physical limitations, and against the odds, Donna was able to remain in her independent-living apartment at the Highlands until the very end, with a bit of outside help. Her family would like to give special thanks to her helpers at Neighbors Inc., the nurses at CHANS, Dr. Christopher Healey of Maine Surgical Care Group, Portland, and Patsy Cyr RN, Midcoast Hospital.
Donna is survived by her daughter, Sally Wagley, and Sally's husband, Jon Jennings, of Hallowell; granddaughter Ruby Jennings, of Washington, D.C.; granddaughter Zoe Jennings, currently of Baton Rouge, La.; step-granddaughter Jana Keith-Jennings, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; step-granddaughter Brynne Keith-Jennings, of Washington, D.C.; nephew Dennis Storms and wife Pat, of Tehachapee, Calif.; niece Valerie Van Hemelryck, of Kingman, Ariz.; sister Nancy Wilds and husband, Stan, of Naples, Fla.; nephew Tim Van Hemelryck and wife, Darlene, of Page, Ariz.; nephew Bill Malin, of Van Nuys, Calif.; and niece Betty Kottak and husband, Conrad, of Seabrook Island, S.C.
In lieu of flowers, those who would care to should make donations to the
. Services will be private. Condolences and memories can be expressed at www.brackett funeralhome.com.