Donalda Rose (Nellie) was born to parents Howard and Dorothy (Letzgus) Chesney on August 1, 1944, near Dunkeld. She joined her older siblings Bob, Betty, Ron, Gerry, and Marlene, and the family was made complete with Jackie, Nadine, Tom and Jim. The Chesney family lived on a farm on Concession 4, Brant Township. Donalda and her siblings attended the Dunkeld one-room schoolhouse and then continued on to Walkerton District High School. While there, she loved to play basketball, representing her favourite number, 44!
When Donalda was 16, she began her working career at Roy Ross Shoe Store in downtown Walkerton. She then went on to work in the office at Union Carbide. It was during this time in her life when on a certain Saturday night in 1964 changed things forever. A young man by the name of Douglas John Bester called Donalda’s sister Jackie to ask if Donalda would be interested in going out on a date with him. Donalda agreed, only if Jackie could come along. So, Doug and his friend Fred Bester picked up the two Chesney sisters and they went back to the Bester home for a night of playing euchre and listening to country music. Donalda and Doug hit it off instantly. As they say, the rest was history! After two years of dating, Donalda and Doug were married at Mary Immaculate Church in Chepstow on September 17, 1966. During this time, Doug was already living and working in Brampton. Right after the wedding, Donalda moved to Brampton to be with him. It didn’t take them long to start their family, as their son Alan was born on February 22 of 1967. After a few years of adjusting to raising a toddler, they welcomed the final addition to their family, Joshua, on March 18, 1973.
While her family was still young, Donalda re-entered the workforce. Her first job was as a labourer at Union Glass Factory. She then began at Graham Brothers Construction Company as a flag woman and was one of the very first women pavement packer operators within the company. Donalda left there when their family moved to Milton and she began work at PL Robertson’s Screw Factory. She loved this job! Donalda jokingly bragged about her job to her friends and family and would often pull out a screw from her purse and ask the nearest person “Hey, Wanna screw? 🙂 That was her humour that she so graciously passed on to her boys which is evident if you ever have had a conversation with them. She went on to work at Consumer’s Glass in Milton as a Quality Assurance technician, a position she took a lot of pride in. In 1988, she decided to join her son Alan at a new car parts manufacturing company called Karmax Heavy Stamping. This was another position Donalda excelled at and quickly became well-respected by her peers and was often called upon for her expert advice. Donalda also was a strong advocate for those who felt unfairly treated but were too timid to speak up for themselves. She would often find herself in their corner helping to represent whatever issue needed to be addressed.
Between her busy life of work and raising a young family, Donalda and Doug rarely missed an opportunity to spend the weekend back in Cargill. They would pack up the boys on Friday night, and spend the majority of the weekend with the Chesney and Bester families. Donalda’s top priority in life was family, and she made sure to pass the importance and value of family on to her boys. Almost every weekend in Cargill, no matter how they would spend their Saturday night, they would be in the pews at St. Joseph’s Church in Cargill on Sunday morning. Donalda was not afraid to miss a bit of work if it meant she could be in the stands cheering on her boys as they played their favourite sports.
Donalda loved playing games, whether it was cards or board games, if you played on her team, you could count yourself lucky! She loved to crochet and was very crafty. Donalda collected antiques, and if you ask her family, they will tell you that she was a professional hoarder 😉 Donalda enjoyed spending time at Alan’s in-laws, Barrow Orchards outside of Milton. She helped out wherever she could and loved every minute of it. Donalda was a good cook, spaghetti being her signature dish. She enjoyed decorating for Christmas and spending time with her loved ones during the holiday season. Donalda loved visiting and laughing with her family and friends. She was certainly a giver, not a taker. Donalda was loving, loyal, generous, stubborn at times, and protective, but overall the most nurturing mother and grandmother. Her grandchildren meant everything to her. Donalda was close to all of them. To quote one of Donalda’s nieces, “Your mama was an amazing, fun, strong, determined and loving woman. She loved you boys with every fibre of her being. How blessed you were to have her for your mom.” She truly was the most incredible woman and will be missed by so many.
Donalda was a resident at Parkview Manor in Chesley. She passed away peacefully at South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Chesley on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, in her 79th year.
Loving mother of Alan (Debbie) of Cambridge and Josh (Becky) of Melancthon. Cherished grandmother of Natalie, Lauren, Zachary, Jaymee (Ryan Kuntz), Taylor and Meghan. Dear sister of Robert (Rosanne) Chesney, Betty (late Robert) Lambertus, Gerald (Marion) Chesney, Marlene (Willard) Teed, Jackie (Clare) Poechman, Nadine (Alan) Anstett, and Tom (Jenny) Chesney. Donalda will be sadly missed by her many nieces, nephews, friends, her sister-in-law Theresa Martin, and the entire Bester family. She was predeceased by her husband Douglas, siblings William, Ron, Grace, Gladys, and James, her parents Howard and Dorothy (Letzgus) Chesney and nephews Jason Poechman, Eddie Lambertus and Tom Teed.
A Memorial Mass honouring Donalda’s life will be held at St. Joseph’s Church, Cargill on Saturday, March 11, 2023, at 11 a.m. Following the Mass, a Celebration of Life will be held at the Chepstow Lions Club until 4 p.m., with words of remembrance at 1 p.m.
Memorial donations to the Cargill and District Community Foundation (CDCF) or Saugeen Hospice Inc. would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.