Donna was born in Louisville, Kentucky on February 20, 1942. She was the eldest daughter of Mike George and Sara George. Donna was born two months after Pearl Harbor was bombed.Later that year her dad was drafted into the army and shipped overseas. The family moved to California during WWII and lived with Sara’s parents while Mike was in the Army overseas. At that time, servicemen were deployed for the “duration of the war,” and Sara worked at Lockheed Aircraft building on P-38 fighters like “Rosie the Riveter”. When her father came back from Europe, Donna did not know who he was. He told her, “I’m your father.” Donna, who was 3 ½, said, “No you’re not. My Father is overseas in the Army fighting in the war. Go away,” and would not talk to him. Not the welcome he was looking for. It took a while for her to accept him.
For her first 5 years, Donna was an only child and a little spoiledlike most only children. Then, within two years of each other,John and Marilyn arrived. Donna went from having her own room and all her parent’s attention, to sharing a 10’ x 12’ bedroom with Marilyn who was 6 ½ years younger. Donna also, not by choice, became the default babysitter for her siblings. By the time Donna was 12, John was 7 and Marilyn was 5, and she became the second mother of two kids, including one who was beyond hyperactive. When Donna got older, she often acted as chauffeur or chaperone for her younger siblings at events their parents did not want to attend. This probably helped her when she became a mother and raised her own children.
After the war, the family moved to North Hollywood where Donna was active in the Girl Scouts and Job’s Daughters. The family was raised Orthodox and called St Nicholas Cathedral their home church. They were very active in the church, and Donna became very involved in SOYO, a youth organization, which centered around common experiences and activities within the framework of the Orthodox church. She was also involved in the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Camp, which she encouraged her own sons to attend once they were old enough.
In her teens, Donna loved music, especially from Broadway plays. Her dad only listened to Arabic music on an old turntable with a single speaker. It did not matter to him that they were old 78 rpm monaural records that sounded like cats fighting. Everything in the 50’s was low fidelity: AM Radio, black and white TV, and their record player. At one point, Donna had gotten a new stereo with LPs of all the latest Broadway shows, such as “My Fair Lady,” “Camelot,” “The King and I,” and “West Side Story.” She wanted a new stereo to listen to the great voices and music, so Donna concocted a plan. She told John to dismantle and box up the old record set, which he did without even asking why. When her dad got home, he got mad at John, not Donna. Dad asked him why he had done this. John explained that Donna had asked him to. Their dad asked, “If Donna told you to jump off a cliff, would you?” Stupid question; the answer was obviously Yes!
Throughout her life, Donna always loved musicals. For decades, she had season tickets to the L.A. Music Center and enjoyed taking her husband and kids to all the first run shows as they came to LA. Many fun family nights were born out of Donna’s love of theater, and she instilled her love of the arts in her sons. Today, her eldest grandson, Dominic, attends high school at the Orange County School of the Arts as a musical theater student.
Donna worked at a bank after college while living with her good friend Phyllis Dixon. She met Milo on a blind date, although they were both on the date with other people. But lightning had struck, and the next day Milo called to ask Donna out, and therest is history. They were engaged a month later and were married within four months of meeting. They were married at St. Nicholas Church, where they began a 52-year marriage and love story.
Once they were married, Milo and Donna moved to Las Vegas for his job at the time. While living there, their oldest son, Michael, was born. Once Milo decided to go to law school, they moved to Sacramento and eventually to Orange County, settling in Huntington Beach where their second son, Matthew, was born. Donna loved the ocean and loved Huntington Beach. Their house was in a great neighborhood and would get ocean breezes in the afternoon. She mentioned on many occasions she would not want to live anywhere else. Her only daydream was that she could one day move closer to the ocean or to a house with an ocean view.
While Milo tackled building a successful law practice, Donna stayed home and raised their two sons. She loved being a stay-at-home mom and would tell her sons throughout their lives, while they were growing up and later, that it was the greatest job she could have asked for and the only job she ever really loved. She was active in all of their activities, taking them to swimming lessons, YMCA camps, art classes, cooking classes, karate, soccer, and baseball. She encouraged them to try all sports and activities, so they could determine which they loved. Her sons learned to swim well enough to join Junior Lifeguards because Donna was insistent that they knew how to swim in the strong ocean currents. Both of her sons became active in Indian Guides with Milo, a bonding experience that created amazing memories and lifelong friends. Currently, Michael and his youngest son, Gavin, are active in Adventure Guides, which is the successor organization to Indian Guides. Church camps, Boy Scouts and high school sports followed with both of Donna’s sons eventually receiving their Eagle Scout awards as well as rowing crew in college.
Donna was adamant that her sons be college educated, and not going to college never occurred to either of them. She actively worked with them select schools, visit campuses, and even to get the loans necessary to attend the school of their choice. As a result, Michael received a BA from the University of Puget Sound in Washington and Matthew received a BA from the University of San Diego and later a Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego.
Donna’s love of learning was a constant in her life, and she was always willing to try new things. She was a voracious reader and imparted a love of books and reading to her sons. The DeArmey household was filled with books, and the boys inherited her love of reading. She attended art and toll painting classes for years and their home is filled with the gorgeous art that she created. When she was in her 40’s, Donna decided to go back to college and complete her degree, eventually graduating with a BA from Long Beach State in Technology Arts, which encompassed art, photography, mechanical crafts, and engineering.
As Donna’s sons began to leave the house, she became focused on activities for herself and Milo to do together to fill the empty nest. She enrolled them in square dancing where they met a new group of people who would become great friends. They traveled all over for square dancing, and it became an activity both her and Milo enjoyed.
Friends were always important to Donna, and she counted many as close friends over the years, with each friendship born from a different facet of their lives. There where the friends she grew up with and at church, the Wild Bunch who were a group of close friends from Indian Guides who spent years traveling, going to movies, and having fun together. She had friends from her different art activities, school, and recently from the cruises that she and Milo enjoyed.
Travel was a big part of Donna’s life and she made sure her sons saw a lot of this country. Road trips, trips back east to see New York, Washington DC, trips to Hawaii, and even Florida for Disneyworld became part of the family fabric. In recent years. Donna and Milo discovered a love of cruises and went on several. They had one booked for March 2022, and Donna talked about how excited she was to be going on their upcoming adventure.
In recent years, even as she began to experience health problems, Donna never lost her enthusiasm for life, friends, and travel. She was constantly on the move and always planning the next trip or activity. Both of her sons are married with families of their own. Michael married Katrina and they have two sons, Alexander and Gavin. Matthew married Vickie and they have one son, Dominic. Donna’s grandsons were the love of her life, and she relished having them come over to spend time with her and Milo. Dinners, travel, family parties, annual Christmas Eve family gatherings, and 4th of July BBQs at their house were a great source of joy. Her grandsons knew her as “Sitti,” which means grandmother in Arabic, and she was fortunate to spend a lot of time with them and feel the unconditional love they have for her.
Donna lived to see her sons become successful, both in business and at home. Matthew is a successful Attorney, continuing the legacy of DeArmey Law with Milo. Michael is a successful commercial real estate developer on the West Coast. Both have wonderful families and carry on the traditions taught by their mother of love for family and friends, travel, and adventure. These are passions that continue with her sons.
Words cannot describe the loss we feel without Donna here on Earth. We are heartbroken at the thought of all the good times and events in the future she will miss. Nevertheless, we take great comfort in the fact she has gone home to her Lord, and to be with her mother and father and so many relatives who have gone to Heaven before her. Donna was loved by many and will be forever missed.
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