Donna Marie (Coy) Pfaender, age 93, passed away at home with family on December 27, 2020, and is reunited in grace and salvation with the love of her life, Larry Pfaender, and with her beloved daughter, Lynn, and her cherished sister, Evelyn LaMay. Donna was born in Toledo, Ohio on August 16, 1927 to Emery and Ellen (Bruot) Coy.
Donna & Larry met at Toledo University in the late 1940s, after Larry returned home from World War II naval service in the Pacific. Shortly after graduating together from TU, they were married in 1950 at Blessed Sacrament Church. Donna and Larry celebrated their faith together as long-time members of the parish family at both Christ the King Church and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church (Sylvania, Ohio) . They created the kind of family upon which great nations are built. But, first things first.
As a bright, lovely, and talented teenager at Maumee Valley Country Day School and DeVilbiss High School (1945), Donna’s singing, dancing, and acting led to local radio stardom in the late 30s & early 40s, and a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1946, where she studied with Grace Kelly and Jason Robards. The establishment of the United Nations in New York after WWII caused a housing shortage in NYC, which forced Donna back to Toledo, where Larry spotted and snared his Pi Beta Phi sweetheart.
These two Depression kids rapidly fulfilled the promise of the Greatest Generation, building their own home, and producing five Baby Boomers: twins Mike and Jim (Katrina, and daughters Heather & Lisa Bilka (Andrew)), Amie Dennis (son Nathan & grandson Cameron, and daughter Caley), Lynn (1955-2019), and Beth Ullom (Phil). Donna & Larry nurtured their kids in a family environment that balanced learning, vacations, hard work, creativity, accountability, fun, duty, and faith.
Donna had the difficult assignment: she performed all the traditional homemaking tasks for this family of seven, and also taught elementary school, first as a substitute, then full-time as a 3rd grade teacher at Christ the King School until her retirement in the early 80s. As with so many families of the 50s and 60s, she was the unsung hero, tirelessly doing all the hard work of nurturing a husband and five kids, blanketing them with grace and love, always displaying a “can do” attitude and spirited toughness.
Donna Coy Pfaender was a wonderful graceful soul who found her life partner in college, and with him over 63 years, brought five children into the world, and raised them all to productive adulthood. But her loving spirit extended well beyond her nuclear family. She gave of herself generously, and greatly enhanced the lives of her students, neighbors, in-laws, friends, and colleagues. She made the world a better place for all who knew her. What a gift she was!
Donna’s family is deeply grateful to Brenda May, who cared for Donna for many years with love and patient tenderness. The family also expresses appreciation to Grace Hospice for its support of Donna and the family. Donna was interred at Ravine Cemetery alongside Larry after the celebration of a private funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church (Sylvania). The family requests that those wishing to offer a memorial, in lieu of flowers, donate in Donna’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) or St. Joseph’s Church (https://www.stjoesylvania.org/onlinegiving). Online condolences may be expressed to Donna’s family at reebfuneralhome.com