Donna J. Luther, 81

Donna J. (Peterson) Luther, 81, daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, mentor, encourager, teacher, and friend to everyone she met, made an unexpected departure from this life Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, at UCHealth of the Rockies hospital in Loveland, CO. Donna passed on to her eternal home with Jesus, but the beautiful memories of her will grace our lives forever.

She was born June 6, 1939, in Cedar Falls, IA, the second of six children born to Delmer and Kathrine Peterson.

Donna attended preschool through part of fifth grade in Cedar Falls, until her family moved to a farm on Mud Lake in Cokato, and completed fifth grade through seventh grade at Myrbach Country School in rural Cokato. She was a 1957 graduate of Cokato High School.

She attended Bethel College and Seminary St. Paul (1957-1959), St. Cloud Teacher’s College (1959), received her bachelor of science degree in education from the University of Minnesota (1961), and then finished with a master of science degree in learning handicapped from California Lutheran College (1980).

Donna married Alexander J. Luther (Maj. USAF retired) in 1966. Her firstborn child, Jennifer, was born in Omaha, NE in 1969. Her son, Christopher, was born in Albuquerque, NM in 1972.

Donna had a passion for children and learning. Her teaching career spanned 47 years, which included early breaks as a stay-at-home mom. She taught kindergarten through fifth grade in locations all over the US, as well as in-home tutoring to disadvantaged children, down syndrome pre-k, and reading classes to incarcerated persons.

The majority of her time was spent in the Orcutt Union School District at May Grisham Elementary in Orcutt, CA, as a classroom teacher and resource specialist, before retiring in 1999. After retirement, she stayed active in education by administering ESL and state testing for OUSD until 2008.

While she was passionate about teaching, Donna was most passionate about her family. She was also a most faithful Christian and lover of Jesus. She remained active in the church wherever life took her. Churches she was involved in included Calvary Baptist, Lompoc; Grace Baptist, Santa Maria; Crosspoint, Santa Maria; and Keystone Church in Loveland, CO.

Donna loved attending and hosting small group Bible studies, and mentoring younger women in church. She loved walking as she participated in the Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco on three occasions with her very close friends from Santa Maria.

She took to swimming over the last decade. Her happy places included Avila Beach and Carmel, CA, Maui, HI, and Estes Park, CO, with her husband.

She loved watching her grandsons participate in sports, band, and other school activities. She also loved fine dining, and spectator sports, such as golf, football, and basketball.

Donna and Al spent 41 years in Santa Maria before moving to Loveland, CO in 2019, to be near Chris’ family.

She was preceded in death by her parents, and older sister, Joan Shuneson of Hastings, MN.

She is survived by her loving husband, Al; her adoring two married children, Jennifer (Kevin), and Chris (Jennifer); five blessed grandsons, Alex (22) and Matthew (19) Sandler of Prior Lake, MN, and Derek (15), Kyle (14), and Evan (8) Luther of Fort Collins.

She is also survived by four brothers and their families, Duane Peterson (Carol) of Johnson City, TN, Bill Peterson (Carole) of Hastings, MN, Gary Peterson (Trudi) of Denton, TX, and Larry Peterson (Kitty) of Lakewood, CO; brother-in-law, Roger Shuneson of Hastings; many nieces, and nephews, spanning four generations.

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