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Donna McKinley

January 20, 1926 - April 23, 2020
Livonia, MI


Life Story / Obituary


Independent, intelligent, and persevering, Donna McKinley lived her life with grace and gratitude. Born in a time of plenty and having grown up in a time of great struggle, Donna possessed an unwavering faith and a tenacious spirit. An elegant lady, Donna carried herself with class, often donning the fashionable clothes she made herself. Loving and wise, she had many family members who appreciated her sage guidance during difficult times. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, Donna inspired all who were blessed to know her.

The 1920s dawned with tremendous confidence and prosperity. The economy boomed, resulting in a higher standard of living for most. This vibrant time grew even more brilliant on January 20, 1926, in Saginaw, Michigan as Charles N. and Mary Gertrude (O'Neill) Troy welcomed their youngest child, Donna, to their family. However, life would change dramatically for the Troy family and families across America as the nation entered the Great Depression.

Growing up on Cornelia Street, Donna's childhood became the firm foundation upon which she consciously built the rest of her life. While her father was unable to work, her mother was industrious and thrifty enough to manage a household with four girls. Donna learned the importance of being charitable by seeing her mother take food to people living in tents along the Saginaw River. Despite the hardships of the times, Donna enjoyed the good company of her older sisters Virginia, Mary, and Marjorie.

Donna was both small in stature and mighty in spirit. Once, when she was a young girl, a neighbor boy came across the street and announced that he was going to beat her up; Donna promptly beat him up instead. Committed to determining her own future, she decided to self-enroll in the public school to avoid a particular nun teaching the 5th grade in the Catholic school who had given her older sister trouble.

The happy times expected during high school were dramatically altered as WWII began and her classmates went off to war. Donna proudly graduated from Saginaw High School with the class of 1943, but typical graduation events were changed or cancelled. The loss of so many boys in her high school killed in WWII left an indelible impression on her, providing an enormous sense of compassion.

When Donna found work that required commuting by car, she bought a car, without knowing how to drive, and had her brother-in-law teach her.

Donna attended Central Michigan University and business schools in Saginaw and Bay City. For a time, she worked for the GM Service Plant and later decided to work for the courts to use the shorthand she had learned. When her boss at GM would not give her the required “walking papers” needed to transfer employers in times of war, she left the company anyway. She was immediately hired by the Probate Court in Saginaw as a Stenographer. Though the work was stressful, Donna enjoyed the challenge of working in the fast paced environment of the court. After working there for many years, she was hired by the State of Michigan in Lansing as a Hearings Reporter. Her shorthand was one of the fastest in the State of Michigan, and she was very proud of having a professional, well-paying job. Later in life Donna's family fondly remembers how she used her shorthand to write notes that nobody else could read. It was like her own secret language that allowed her to keep important things like Christmas lists to herself.

Donna met her beloved, Edward McKinley, at a Catholic Singles group in Saginaw. He called her up and asked her to a movie. Donna was pleased that she beat Ed at a card game and that he wasn't afraid of asking her out despite losing to her. She was also impressed that he wasn't intimidated by the fact that she earned more than he did. On October 8, 1960, in St Mary's Cathedral in Saginaw, the happy couple exchanged their marriage vows.

The newlyweds made their home in Saginaw and soon welcomed their first child, Mary. Donna worked after her daughter was born but soon felt the babysitter was getting the better part of the deal. So, with Ed's support, she quit and became a stay-at-home mom. In the years that followed, the family welcomed Edward Jr. and Ann Louise. Donna relished in motherhood and ran her home with the same passion that she'd given her career. Her home was always neat and orderly; Donna insisted on integrity. Devoted to her Catholic faith, she led by example, living a life rooted in honesty and upstanding morals. She would often tell her children "keep your nose clean" and "personal remarks are never in good taste.” She encouraged independence, while also ensuring their safety. When her kids were young, she would tie a rope around their waist with the other end tied to a tree that was near the sandbox, to prevent them from wandering away. When her children grew older, they playfully teased her about this; she would respond that they were "tied very loosely."

A talented seamstress, Donna bought Vogue patterns to make most of her wardrobe. She loved to find mistakes in the pattern directions, send the errors into the company and receive a refund. She made shirts for her husband and clothing for her kids. Not only did she sew her own wedding dress, but mastered coats with linings, curtains and upholstered furniture. Donna also enjoyed knitting beautiful sweaters, especially those with cable designs. Working with quality materials ensured her projects would look beautiful and last.

Donna and Ed spent weekends at their cottage in Tawas where she enjoyed getting dressed up for Friday and Saturday night dinners at the clubhouse. This gave her the opportunity to wear the beautiful outfits she had made.

She and Ed took the kids to Washington DC once and enjoyed several vacations in Florida. Donna remained close to her sisters and their families, who all lived in Saginaw, and had wonderful parties on Christmas Eve. Once the kids were grown, she and Ed traveled to England, Ireland, and Hawaii. Later in life, Donna and her sister Mary traveled to Ireland, which was a dream trip, as both were proud of their Irish heritage and Donna loved genealogy. She spent many years researching her family history back several generations well before the age of digital records.

In 2003, Donna and Ed left Saginaw and moved to Southeast Michigan to be near their children and grandchildren. Donna would help out her daughter, Ann, by babysitting the grandkids. She treasured spending this special time with Elizabeth and Andrew.

Donna loved listening to classical music and attending concerts, as well as reading books, especially those about history. She enjoyed bowling and golfing in ladies leagues and continued to play piano well into her 80s. Donna was active in the St Joseph Altar Society, Book Club, Genealogy Society and the Women's National Farm and Garden Club of Saginaw, and later the South Lyon Genealogy Society.

Though the world is surely duller in the absence of Donna's bright light, her vibrant legacy will continue to brilliantly shine in the hearts and lives of those she leaves behind. With each moment we choose integrity, faith, and gratitude, meet life's challenges with confidence, use our talents to serve others, and persevere without complaint, we carry the best of Donna's legacy forward. In doing so, she will continue to inspire others as she so inspired us.

Donna Helen (Troy) McKinley passed away April 23, 2020 after a brief illness. Beloved wife of Edward Germain McKinley for 59 years. Loving mother of Mary G McKinley, M.D., Edward G McKinley, Jr., and Ann Louise McKinley (Gregory) Carl. Dear grandmother of Elizabeth Marie Carl and Andrew Joseph Carl. Donna was preceded in death by her parents: Mary Gertrude (O’Neill) Troy and Charles N. Troy and three sisters: Virginia J. (Harold) McCullen, Mary G. (Russell) Kruske, and Marjorie J. (William) Hart. She is survived by nieces and nephews: Linda Ann (Darrell) Mahurin, Tucson, Arizona; Edward (Linda) Kruske; Donna Marie Berg; James (Cathy) Kruske; Sheila (John) Martuch; William (Elizabeth) Hart, Jr.; Maureen Hart, all of Michigan and; Kevin Hart, New York State, and several great nieces and nephews.

Donna was born in Saginaw and graduated from Saginaw High School in 1943, attended Central Michigan University and several business schools in Saginaw and Bay City. She worked in the Probate Court in Saginaw as a Court Stenographer for many years, after which she worked for the State of Michigan in Lansing as a Hearings Reporter. She was a member of the St Joseph Altar Society and South Lyon Genealogy Society, and the Book Club and the Genealogy Society in Saginaw, Michigan. She was a member for many years of the Women’s National Farm and Garden Club in Saginaw.

She married Edward McKinley on October 8, 1960, in St Mary’s Cathedral in Saginaw. They lived in Saginaw until 2003 when they moved to South Lyon, Michigan and later to Livonia, Michigan in 2013, to be near their children and grandchildren.

In Lieu of Flowers donations may be made to St. Joseph’s Indian School, 1301 North Main Street, Chamberlain, SD 57325. (1-800-584-9200) https://www.stjo.org/