Life Story / Obituary


Donna Gertrude Kirby, 89, passed away surrounded by love and family December 21, 2021. Born in Detroit August 17, 1932, she was the youngest of six children. She met Lester Don Kirby at the age of 15, marrying him in 1952 upon his return from the Korean War. The relationship she held with Don was one of true love and devotion. They were married 65 years at the time of his passing in 2017. The pair lived in Royal Oak, MI for 30 years raising their two children. Donna worked as a transcriptionist for the original Dictaphone answering service, as a classroom aide at Franklin Elementary in Royal Oak after she had children and was a secretary at Massachusetts Mutual until she retired. Donna and Don volunteered for the Montmorency Democratic Society in their retirement years.

In the late 90’s Don and Donna moved full time to their Up North property in Atlanta, MI where Don had built their dream home over his working years. Family was everything to Donna; a devoted sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Donna was affectionately known as Neenie to her five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, whom she adored. She loved nature, animals, crafts, cooking and getting together with friends often. Known for her cooking and experimenting with new recipes, she was always happy to share something new with those she knew. Donna was a strong woman and a pioneer of her times which showed throughout her life in the ways she was tenacious yet graceful in all she did. A social butterfly that loved camping trips with her family and siblings in her younger years, and touring the United States in retirement with Don. In 2016 she and Don relocated to Traverse City to be near family as Don became ill. Donna remained dedicated to Don as Alzheimer’s erased what he knew, again showing her strength and devoted love.

Donna is preceded in death by her parents Herburt and Ruth (Nellie) Smith, brothers Max, Chuck, Harold, sisters Sylvia and Ruth, and husband Lester Don Kirby.

She is survived by her son Kerry (Stephanie) Kirby of Superior, CO., daughter Susan (Karl) Stegmeyer of Traverse City, MI., grandchildren Samatha (Jake) Szydzik, Megan (Kris) Konstanzer, Jennifer (Casey) Jaeger, Nichole Kirby, and Tao (Ariel) Stegmeyer. Great grandchildren, Kylie, Harlow, Emma, Emmett, Maddison, Kashton, Connor, and Adam, and Don’s loyal dog Daisy Mae.

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