Margaret “Jane” Donkers, 95, died peacefully on February 6, 2024. She lived a life exemplifying volunteerism, devotion to her husband and family, and believed in education for everyone at every stage of life. Jane was born on March 27, 1928 in rural Cannon Falls, MN, the daughter of George and Marguerite Conzemius. She credited her parents for being the greatest influence on her life, encouraging her to pursue her dreams at a time when higher education was the exception. Jane graduated valedictorian from Hastings HS in 1946, was a national 4H winner in clothing construction, received her degrees from Iowa State University in 1950 and Master’s from Columbia University in 1955. She was a lifelong member of AAUW (American Association of University Women) even traveling to South Africa at age 83 in support of human rights for women and children. It was fitting that a former Home Ec teacher so enjoyed living in the RW High School condos.
Jane advocated for education from all aspects of her life: president of the Red Wing School Board and was named Minnesota State Outstanding School Board Member in 1984. She volunteered with the League of Women Voters, Art History Club, MN Corrections Institute, librarian at county jail, and Faith Formation teacher at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church for many years. She avidly worked to support school referendums, educate others on how to become informed voters, and believed in reading the paper every day. In the 1970’s she was named the first woman to the Norwest Bank Board.
She married Dr. William Donkers in 1955 and moved to Red Wing in 1963. Bill and Jane were a team. Jane made a home that welcomed friends, family, children’s friends, and so many committee meetings always accompanied by a wonderful meal. Bill came home for a hot lunch, with time to just sit and talk with Jane every day of their life together. It was her great loss when he died in 2004. She raised 3 sons and a daughter, again volunteering as Boy Scout and Brownie leader, ELC supporter, and felt working to improve her community was not only her mission but an important model for her children.
Survivors include her four children: Bill (Sue) Donkers of Brooklyn Center, Dave (Missy) Donkers of Nerstrand, Chuck (Mary Lydon) Donkers of St Paul, Margaret (Erik) Anderson of Wausau, WI as well as 9 grandchildren: Liz (Eric) Deans, Will (Sarah) Donkers, Joe Donkers, Suzanne (Apple) Donkers, Charlie (Erin) Donkers, Katie and Pete Donkers, Kelsi and Gus Anderson. Four great grandchildren brought such joy: Zoe, Evelyn, Finn, and Lydia. She is survived by her sister Rita Nichols of New Jersey. She was preceded in death by her parents, siblings Rosemary Sarri, John and George Conzemius and her beloved husband William Joseph Donkers.
Her family would like to express gratitude for such compassionate care at Deer Crest Senior Living & Memory Care Unit as well as Brighton Hospice services.
In lieu of flowers or memorial gifts, please honor her memory by seeking out a volunteer opportunity in your home community. Jane believed in giving back and would love to see her example passed on.
Family and friends are invited to a visitation from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday, February 16, 2024, at the Mahn Family Funeral Home, Bodelson-Mahn Chapel. Funeral Mass will be 11 a.m. Saturday, February 17, 2024, at the Church of St. Joseph in Red Wing with Father Brandon Theisen presiding. A visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the time of the Mass. Burial will be at the Calvary Cemetery.