Donna Toepper Hansen, formerly a high school music teacher in Wisconsin and an editor-columnist for the Carthage Republican Tribune in New York, died Monday, August 30. She was 84 years of age.
Donna enjoyed good health throughout most of her life until a series of falls at Cedar Lake Village, the Independent Living center where her fourth fall while getting up from the dinner table on August 9, led to a broken hip.
Donna underwent surgery the following day to repair the break, but her body did not respond well.
Donna Delight Dehling was born at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on Jan. 7,1937, the daughter of Lester and Doris (Zellmer) Dehling of Wautoma and Montello, Wis. She was educated in the public schools of Chicago and Montello. She was both Valedictorian as well as Class President.
She went on to study music at Central Wisconsin State College at Stevens Point, where she often accompanied the college orchestra as pianist.
After a summer music trip to Europe, she began her teaching career at Wautoma High School.
In her second year of teaching at Wautoma, she met Ramon Hansen, the new owner of the local newspaper and that began a love affair with the publisher and journalism that was to endure throughout her life. The music teacher and the newspaperman were married in Bloomfield, Nebr., on March 13,1965. They made their homes in Omaha, Neodesha, Kansas, Colby, Kansas, Siloam Springs Ark., and Carthage, NY where Mr. Hansen either owned or managed the local newspaper.
Through their years of writing together Donna served as co-editor and did a weekly column, “On the Aisle”. When Mr. Hansen retired in 2001, Donna took over as editor of the Carthage Republican Tribune and managed the newspaper five more years.
A life-long learner, Donna led an active life in her retirement. She treasured the many educational trips led by Judy George for the Jefferson County Historical Society to New York City and throughout the state and most of New England, Canada, and Chautauqua.
She always looked forward to the annual trips to high school reunions in Wisconsin, then on to their cabin in the Sandhills of Nebraska.
Donna was a faithful member of the Carthage Music Club, the Carthage Hospital Auxiliary and all local arts and music supporting groups.
Donna loved opera and oysters, and always had a cheer for her Chicago “Cubbies”. In her retirement years she finally had time to play her Steinway piano and became the good pianist she always hoped to be. Every Tuesday afternoon was set aside for playing duets with her partner who also was in her eighties. Her favorite song and movie were “The Way We Were”.
Donna learned to ice skate as a child on Lake Puckaway and White Lake outside of Montello.
She often rated among her fondest memories her high school years when she and her friend Mary Atkinson skated into cold Wisconsin nights. She continued to skate with her husband and family whenever the opportunity arose and became an accomplished figure skater.
Donna never traveled without her tote bag, which was always filled with the local newspaper, her home-town paper and the latest copy of the New York Times, which she read faithfully up to her final day in the hospital. And whenever there was a dull moment, she found refuge in the latest crossword puzzle.
In her final years in Carthage, she divided her time between her numerous flower beds, playing her beloved Steinway and shoveling the snow that regularly filled the Hansen driveway.
* She is survived by her husband, Ramon, twin sons Chris and Eric, and their wives Kim and Angela; five grandchildren and one great-grandchild plus many former students who found inspiration in her love of music.
A memorial service is scheduled at her retirement center for Sunday, September 12 at 3:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggest a donation in Donna’s name to your local library.