Beloved wife, mother and grandmother, Donna Mae Gutschmidt Nelson, age 92, passed away  on Sunday afternoon September 22, 2019.

 Donna is survived by her husband of 61 years, Edwin L Nelson, son David A. Nelson, daughter Anne E. Chase and grandsons Matthew Slee and Jacob Slee. Other surviving family members are brothers Herbert Gutschmidt and William Gutschmidt and sister Susie Pomeroy.

Donna was born in Dubuque, Iowa on May 5, 1927 and grew up in Carroll, Iowa the oldest of 6 children to Marie and Herbert Gutschmidt.  Donna was a soloist in her high school and Methodist church choirs.  She attended Simpson College and later accepted a job in Des Moines with Allied Mutual Insurance Company.  While living in Des Moines she met Ed and they were married on June 7, 1958. They lived there until 1961 when Ed’s career opportunities with the federal government brought them to Washington D.C. They purchased a single-family home in the new residential community of Waynewood just south of Old Town Alexandria.

Donna’s range of interests included volunteering at Waynewood elementary school (room mother), music, especially violin and vocal, and having luncheons for her exercise ladies. Donna taught an exercise class at St. Aiden’s Episcopal Church for over 20 years.  Those who grew up in Waynewood will remember the children’s midway games as part of the 4th of July celebration.  Donna planned and coordinated the midway year after year.  One of her talents was getting people to do something willingly.  This was evident in her involvement with Waynewood’s citizens’ and recreation association where obtaining proxies and being an area representative was a year-round activity.  Spending time with her beloved schnauzers and guinea pigs brought her great happiness.

Of the things that mattered most to Donna was her family. She cherished her husband, children and grandchildren. Among her favorite times were out on the beach at Fenwick Island, Delaware watching porpoise pass by in the surf, going for long walks collecting shells and talking to the many fellow nature lovers about what they had seen.  She was an early riser taking advantage of each day and what it had to offer.

Donna had a beautiful spirit of hospitality that made everyone feel at home.  Children would routinely visit her for treats, companionship, and sharing stories.  She was truly a person who accepted everyone for who they are.  She gave so much of herself to others and was so caring and cheery.

Memorial services will be held on Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 11am at Aldersgate United Methodist church in Alexandria VA. Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a future date. The family will greet friends at the church after the service in Wesley Hall.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Aldersgate United Methodist Church at  1301 Collingwood Drive Alexandria, Virginia 22308 or to a church of your choice.

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  1. For just as the swan’s last song is the sweetest of its life, so loss is made endurable by love and it is love that will echo through eternity. – Jennifer Worth, The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times
    The world’s a little less lovely tonight.
    How do I say goodbye to someone as treasured as you?
    Though we didn’t meet when we should have, we grew close in heart.
    Your unconditional love gave me security.
    Your belief in my talents and skills gave me confidence.
    I will never forget our conversations, the stories you told me about my Dad and you growing up or your love of dogs.
    When I read one of our favorite authors, see your photo or remember your birthday, I will think of you and smile.
    A special place in my heart will always be yours and I will strive to be the kind of person of whom you are proud.
    I can’t thank you enough, sweet Aunt Donna, for being a touchstone of joy and family closeness to me.
    I promise to focus on the happiness brought to my life by knowing you.
    I pray that you are pain free, dancing with the angels and loved ones with your beautiful eyes twinkling.
    Peace and Godspeed.
    Remembering you in love Aunt Donna. Thank you for being so special to me. -Kathy

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