Donna May Hanson
1932 — 2023
On Dec. 2, she was granted her wish and was welcomed by the Lord into her heavenly home, where she is now pain free and reunited with her dear departed husband, Ralph, and her daughter, Susan.
Donna May Harding was born on May 20, 1932, to JC (John) and Ethel Harding on a homestead north of Havre, Montana. She was very much the youngest of six children and grew up with her nieces and nephews as siblings. Her birth certificate still reads “Baby Harding,” as her birth was announced before her older siblings had pulled her name from a hat. When she was 5, her family moved into the town of Havre, Montana. She attended school there and graduated as a Havre Blue Pony. She was proud to have worked at the first original Buttrey’s store in Havre.
In October of 1953, while attending a family gathering, she was asked for a date by the known rascal Ralph Hanson. They were united in marriage on Jan. 10, 1954. Thus began their fun, loving and devoted marriage that would continue for 66 years until Ralph’s passing in 2020. During Ralph’s career with the Great Northern Railroad, Husky Oil Company, and Exxon Oil Company, they made their home in Havre; Billings; Cody, Wyoming; Miles City; and finally settled in Billings in 1981.
Together, they raised two daughters, Lori and Susan. Throughout the years, Donna established many deep and lasting friendships. She enjoyed adventures traveling and cruising with family and friends. She and Ralph danced beautifully together, whether twirling on the square dance floor or “cutting a rug” at the Elks Club.
Once her daughters were in school, Donna found her true calling in fashion retail. She worked at Milo’s in Miles City. In Billings, she worked downtown at Unique Reflection and Cricket Clothing for a total of 35 years — retiring at the age of 85. She absolutely loved the fashions, but mostly loved her customers and coworkers, many who became her good friends. Even after retiring, she continued to be a classy, fashionable lady wherever she went.
Donna was full of spunk and was determined not to let anything keep her down. Sitting still was not in her vocabulary. Her coworkers called her “The Energizer Bunny.” Her mantra was “You gotta get movin’ & keep movin’.” She was a longtime avid member of Yellowstone Fitness Center and could be seen on the treadmill three to five days a week until age 90.
Donna deeply cherished her family and loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren with all her heart. She was always a memorable part of every special moment, both happy and sad, in their lives. She was ready to join in the fun, offer some advice, and occasionally shake a finger. She also valued her friendships, some going back 50 to 80 years. She loved her neighbors, especially Sherri, Colleen and Carmen. And she forged many new friendships at her new home at West Park Village these past six months.
Any fitting tribute to Donna must mention that her favorite hobby was shopping. She was always eager and ready to join in coffee or lunch, followed by a shopping spree. Not a store was entered without at least one package coming out.
Donna May (Harding) Hanson is survived by her daughter, Lori (Joe Munsell); grandchildren Kurtis Wright (Stacy) of Orlando, Florida, Kevin Wright (Katie) of Helena, Amber Smith (Tim) of New Port Beach, California, Tara Dye (Jason) of Casper, Wyoming, and Tyler Adrian (Katie) of Thornton, Colorado; and 11 (soon to be 12) great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her son-in-law David Adrian of Casper, Wyoming; sister-in-law Jo Hanson of York, Pennsylvania; and numerous nieces and nephews whom she cared for deeply.
She was preceded in death by her parents and five siblings, as well as her beloved husband, Ralph and daughter, Susan Adrian, and her son-in-law, Donald Wright.
A memorial and celebration of Donna’s life will be at 11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave., Billings MT 59102.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in her name to Adult Resource Alliance of Yellowstone County, 1505 Avenue D, Billings, MT 59102.
So full of life! She will be greatly missed by all!! We are thankful that she is finally free of pain and dancing again with Ralph.
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