Donna Mae (Woodruff) Whitaker
November 15, 1928 - December 13, 2017
On the evening of December 13, 2017, surrounded by her family, our mother, Donna Mae (Woodruff) Whitaker quietly and peacefully passed away and entered the gates of Heaven. Donna, also known as Mother, Mom, Mama, Grandma, Grammie, GG and Auntie, was loved by so many.
Mom was born to Curtis and Beulah Woodruff on November 15, 1928 in Ford, Kansas. She, and her twin brother Don, were the youngest siblings in a family of seven children. At the age of 3, the family moved to a 1900-acre ranch south of Springfield, Colorado. Mom recalled that while living here she, her twin brother, Don, and sister Beulah rode a horse to school. Of course, being the youngest twin and sister, she always got the rear. In the spring of 1935 her family left and headed to Oregon, going the southern route from Colorado through Arizona and California. Once they reached Oregon they spent some time in Eugene and then settled in Dillard, north of Roseburg. While in Dillard the family grew melons, and ran a fruit stand. They stayed in Dillard until World War II started then headed north to Albany. Once in Albany they opened a restaurant in a boarding house. This was mom’s official first job, waiting tables. They rented to servicemen and their wives that were stationed at Camp Adair, which was outside of Albany. The family spent a year in Albany and again headed north to Portland. Mom attended Westmoreland Grade School, Commerce High School and Girls Polytech. She left school in her junior year thinking how much more exciting it would be to work. While living at home, she worked at the phone company as an operator, Montgomery Wards as a salesperson and Lipman’s in their warehouse.
Mom’s favorite pastime in her early years was to roller skate at the Oaks Skating Rink in Portland. Here she met her first husband, which she was married to for a very short time and her second husband, Tom McNeal. In May of 1948 she welcomed her first child, Teri Lynne. Her second child, Larry Robert was born October of 1949 and her third child, Ricky Lee in November of 1953.
In January of 1960, Mom and the three children moved north to Redmond, Washington. Shortly after arriving there Mom met Dad, John Edwin “Ed” Whitaker. Dad was a long-haul truck driver out of Seattle. We still laugh to this day, because their romance started because Mom did his laundry. Mom and Dad were married October 14, 1961. This union merged two families: Mom’s three children (Teri, Larry and Rick) and Dad’s two (Judy and Gary). Soon thereafter a new addition appeared, our baby sister, Julie. We were now a family of six.
Mom resided in Mountlake Terrace for many years. Once Dad retired in 1985 they sold their home and moved to a manufactured home in a senior community. They enjoyed their life in this community, but soon after Mom retired, they sold everything and started their years as “snowbirds” traveling south for the next 7 years. When they decided it was time to quit the traveling, Mom and Dad moved into Alderwood Court Apartments, where Mom resided for 13 years. Mom was always the social butterfly and this atmosphere suited her perfectly. There was her comedy club, Bible study class and calling bingo. She made many friends and kept very busy up until the last year of her life.
Donna is survived by her five children, Gary Whitaker, Teri (Tom) Doak, Larry McNeal, Rick McNeal and Julie (Brian) Webber. She was also the proud Grandmother of Tammi Talbot, Shawna Henderson, Kymberly Whitaker, Selena McNeal-Rodgers, Jaclyn Rutherford, Amanda Doak, Tyler Webber and Lacey Webber; she was great-grandmother to Misty Mclean, Nicole Talbot, Megan Henderson, Mickenzie McGrath, Caleb McNeal, Tira Hause , Aubrey Knowlton, Logan McNeal, Elizabeth Webber, Hank Gullikson and Joey McNeal Rodgers and great great-grandmother to Kyler Talbot, Gavin McLean and Kasen McLean. Along with numerous nieces and nephews.
Mom was preceded in death by her husband, John E Whitaker; her six siblings, Howard, Byron, Curtis, Warren, Beulah and Don; her daughter Judy Whitaker McGrath and her grandson Kirk McGrath.
Mom was an outgoing vivacious person. She loved life and the people in it. She loved her family with all that she was. We will miss her here on earth but will see her again.