Membership Spotlight

Donna Collins


Donna playing her Bass Clarinet at Court #330 95th Anniversary

Member since 2013 

Donna was born in Council Bluffs, at Jennie Edmundson Hospital, and by the age of two her family had moved to a farm near Woodbine, IA. She went to country school for three years with her mother as her teacher! Her maternal grandmother had grown up on a farm in a family of nine children; so she had vast experience with teaching children, but no formalized degree. Donna’s mom was qualified to teach her at that time with a Normal School background. Donna’s mom would go on to formalize her degree, while teaching and raising four children on the farm. Later on her mom taught Elementary School in Woodbine, IA for years. Donna would follow after her mom, teaching Elementary School in Atlantic, IA and Lewis Central here in Council Bluffs. Donna also taught part-time at IWCC (Iowa Western Community College) for many years, working with students getting their GED Degrees. This is a family of teachers to be sure!

Donna had one brother and two sisters; she was next to last in birth order. There was “always something to do on the farm like chores, gardening and I rode a horse.” She attended Woodbine High School, where she was sweethearts with her now husband of 48 years, Gary. After graduation Gary left for the US Air Force, serving for the next four years, mostly in England. During his absence they didn’t have any contact, as Donna was busy attending Northwestern Missouri State, graduating with a degree in Elementary Education. After returning from the Air Force Gary married Donna and took a job with Union Pacific, that he held for 37 years, until his retirement. Always with a goal in mind, Donna is currently painting the basement walls and floor of their lovely home. She says she is “determined to finish” this project and “can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Donna and Gary were blessed with three children. Danny was their oldest son who had Down’s Syndrome and passed away in 2012, having been given 41 precious years with his family. Daughter Cathy also entered the teaching profession as an instructor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Son David is a professional drummer who also teaches at IWCC. Cathy and her banker husband Jeff have given them two grandchildren; Zach, who is entering UNL this fall, studying computers, and Danielle, who will be a sophomore at Lincoln Southwest High.

Donna’s family is not only a family of teachers, but a talented musical family. Donna has publicly played the Bass Clarinet since her high school marching band days at Woodbine. She continued playing in a Clarinet Quartet with the IWCC Community Band for about 35 years. This group has played venues such as The General Dodge House at Christmastime and other events. She said, “I enjoyed those occasions very much.” Her wind instrument is her focus, although she also plays piano. Son David is an award winning drummer since High School, earning an Iowa All-State rating in Percussion. Both her grandchildren play double reed instruments. Granddaughter Danielle plays oboe, sax and piano. Grandson Zach plays the bassoon and piano. Donna played music of the 1920’s, from original sheet music that belonged to her aunt, on her Bass Clarinet at our Court’s 95th Anniversary Party last fall. (see photo)

Originally the Collins family attended Queen of Apostles until their children were in school; since then they are longtime parishioners at St. Patrick’s. Since retirement Donna does a lot of quilting and has been active with the Sewing Circle at St. Patrick’s, making lap robes for local care homes. She enjoys other service activities, such as making pies and working at the annual city-wide Thanksgiving Dinner. Recently, Donna and Gary joined the Tai Chi class at Queen of Apostles Great Hall on Wednesday afternoons, from 1:30 to 3:00pm. They are enjoying great benefits, “physically and spiritually” from this exercise/meditation activity, where all participants are Catholic Christians.

Donna accepted an invitation from member Judy Lookabill to attend our Court #330 meetings and joined the court in 2013. She said she enjoys the “camaraderie and friendships” she experiences in our group. She also appreciates the “common goals of monetary and GIK (Gift In Kind) donations for the community.” We are grateful that Donna is our sister in CDA and we welcome her active involvement, her cheerful disposition and many talents.

Give praise with blasts upon the horn.   Psalm 150:3