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Dona M. Rauch


Dona M. Rauch

Nov. 5, 1929-Jan. 7, 2014

Dona Rauch, 84, of Brookings, passed away Jan. 7, 2014, her husband and family at her side.

Dona was born Nov. 5, 1929, in Buffalo, N.Y., to Clarence and Mae (Lusk) Rupert, the first of four children. 

When Dona’s father died, her mother remarried, and three more children were born. 

Dona graduated from Perry High School, in New York, at age 16.

She married Leroy Howden in 1949. The couple lived in Denver while Leroy attended gunsmith college, and then settled in East Bethany, N.Y., where they raised five children. The marriage ended in divorce. 

Dona, a gifted artist, taught high school art and adult education art classes while her children were growing up. She was a longtime member of the Batavia Art Guild and had served as its president. She also was an avid swimmer and taught Advanced Lifesaving and swimming classes at the YMCA in Batavia.

In 1968, Dona moved to Rockwood, Mich.and married Harold “Bud” Rauch in 1973. An accomplished artist in woods and metals, Bud was the love of her life for 45 years. 

 Bud and Dona built their homes from the ground up, in Incline Village, Nev. and Pahrump, Nev. They also built The Sandpiper Gallery in Rockwood, Mich. Friends noted that Dona was as comfortable with a hammer as she was with an artist’s paintbrush. 

About 20 years ago, the couple traded home ownership and possessions for an RV and hit the road, mostly exploring the West. Their children referred to them as “The Gypsies.” It was during one of their journeys that they discovered, and fell in love with, Brookings. They parked their RV as close to the Pacific as possible and lived a very contented life. Dona painted and sold her work through Fely’s restaurant at Sporthaven Beach. Eventually, it came time to “settle down,” and they lived at Pelican’s Perch apartments for the last several years. 

Dona is survived by her husband Bud, children Patricia (Mike) Nicometo, of Iron Mountain, Mich., Michelle (wife of the late John) Torcello, Batavia, N.Y., JoAnn (Jim) Ballenger, Hayden Idaho, John (Mary) Howden, Incline Village, Nev., and LeeAnn Mullen, of Bascom, N.Y.; stepchildren Sherri French and Randy Rauch reside in Las Vegas and Detroit. Also surviving are 16 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, two brothers, a sister, and a group of wonderful friends in Brookings.

A celebration of Dona’s life hosted by her family and friends took place Jan.10. Pastor David Hunter of Brookings Presbyterian Church was the guest speaker.

 The family requests that, in remembrance, those fortunate enough to still have their mothers please pick up the phone and call them.

Submitted by the family.


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