Noted master bead artist, Donna Henderson, passed in Bend, Oregon. She was born in Burlingame, California June 24, 1959, lived her early years in the Bay Area, and later lives in Los Alamitos, CA. She moved to Polson, MT when her parents, James A. Shaffer, Jr. and Frances A. Shaffer relocated to Montana with the family. In Polson, Donna attended local schools. She worked on the ship, the Retta Mary, in the summers. It was there she met her husband, James Henderson.
Following the death of her mother, she moved to Flagstaff, Arizona where she attended school and worked, eventually returning to Polson for her wedding with Jim. She studied photography at Northern Arizona University, and was very connected to the arts community there and in Sedona, Arizona where she and Jim worked for many years.
The pair relocated to Brookings, Oregon where she continued her joy of arts. She also worked for Ace Hardware, managing the paint department. Donna focused on bead work, and produced phenomenal pieces influenced both by the years in the Southwest, and the beautiful Oregon Coast, which she celebrated through her works, which were featured in galleries and exhibited in museums. Donna did not limit her beading to jewelry, and worked in dimensional art, hanging pieces, and functional pieces as well. Color, pattern, and texture were all integrated.
In 2015, she was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease. She relocated to Bend, Oregon, to be close to a Center of Excellence for the treatment of ALS. There she lived with Stella and Brooks, her sister and brother-in-law. For years she worked to retain her abilities, slowing the progress of the ALS. She finally died of the respiratory complications of ALS on August 4,2021, six years after her initial diagnosis.
Donna is missed by her family and many friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, Jim and Fran Shaffer, and her spouse James R. Henderson. She is survived by her sister Stella Larson (Brooks) of Bend, OR, Melissa Miller of Chelmsford, MA, and Lori Dapelo (Scott) of Santa Rosa, CA. She also leaves her niece and nephews, Kelly Larsen, Charles, Alex, Jason, and Inger Larson, their spouses and children.
There is much to a life of work and beauty that cannot be described in an obituary. Her acerbic wit, her devotion to her friends, and her pure true spirit travel with her. She will forever be in our hearts.
Donna’s family wishes to thank the ALS Association of Central Oregon, the Center Orthopedic & Neurological Care and Research of Bend, OR, Partners in Care Hospice, Bend, OR, for their support and care, and a legion of the truest friends who filled her life with love and laughter.