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Donna Britten

Donna J. Britten (Wakelin)

Thursday, June 20th, 1940 - Tuesday, March 24th, 2020
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Obituary

It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Donna’s passing after a courageous battle with pulmonary fibrosis. Her journey ended peacefully, surrounded by the love and support of her family. She dealt with her illness the same way she lived her life: with positivity, grace and dignity.
Donna was predeceased by her loving husband of 53 years and childhood sweetheart Jim Britten, by her parents Fred and Audrey Wakelin and by her sister Barbara.
She was a loving mother to Jill (Glen), Wendy (Dave) and David. She taught us to be confident, to trust ourselves and to relentlessly follow our dreams. We always knew how truly and deeply we were loved. She was a proud grandma to Morgan, Mitchell, Dylan and Connor. Her greatest joy was truly knowing each one of them and their individual strengths, joys, fears and aspirations. With her in their hearts, their future is limitless.
Donna leaves behind her siblings Ron (Sue) and Nancy, nieces Lee and Kate and nephews Ryan and Alex, all of whom she loved unconditionally. They will never have a bigger fan and cheerleader.
Donna was a proud graduate of North Toronto C.I. and Toronto Teachers College. While she formally taught in the classroom for only a brief time, she was an educator and leader her entire life.
Donna and Jim set firm roots in Scarborough where they raised their family. Urban living was balanced by 50 years lakeside at their beloved cottage on Bald Lake where they hosted countless family and friends. Many have stories of early mornings and late nights, long boat rides and interesting meals, with some experiences best forgotten and others indelibly savoured forever.
Donna was a voracious reader, a skilled pianist, an enthusiastic tennis player, an exceptional communicator and a passionate teacher. She lived each day with a grateful spirit. She listened intently but also taught those around her to never lose their own voice. She had an innate ability to see the best in everyone and recognized when others needed a kind word, big hug or long chat.
Donna was a tireless advocate for people with disabilities. She was past-president of Community Living Toronto. She was a Community Living Ontario board member and served as the Association’s representative on the Developmental Services Council of Ontario. She was respected by executives and politicians and trusted by parents and friends.
In 2017, Donna received the Annie Oliver Award for her outstanding contributions to the work of Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs (OASIS). In her volunteerism, she truly embodied the quote “You make a living by what you get and make a life by what you give.”

The family would like to express their appreciation to Niagara Health and Joseph Brant Hospital who provided values-based, person-centered care to Donna. There were so many compassionate heroes who provided her comfort, support, companionship and care. We are grateful that you cared for her as if she was part of your family. Thank you for helping us to keep our promises to our mother.
Cremation has taken place. A gathering to celebrate Donna’s life will be held at a later date. In light of Donna’s lifetime legacy of work, please consider a donation in her honour to Community Living Toronto, an agency that has meant so much to her family for the loving care and steadfast support given to David for many years.
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Donations are being accepted for: COMMUNITY LIVING TORONTO.

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Private Condolence
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Carolynn Morrison

Posted at 06:48am
We have lost not only an extraordinary Advocate, but a warm, wonderful, sweet friend.
To our family and hundreds of other families, Donna was our shelter in the time of storm.
As a Mom who had walked this path before us, she generously provided a kind listening ear, an understanding heart, boundless encouragement and most importantly of all HOPE.
I had the privilege to work with her on many committees and accompany her on many government visits. She sought every opportunity to speak on behalf of families and paved the way for many initiatives to be put in place.
Her decades of volunteering her time for Community Living Toronto, Toronto Developmental Disability Council, the Ontario Partnership Table, the Provincial Network, OASIS, OPADD and many other committees and task groups speaks volumes about her dedication to our sector. She gave selflessly of her time, talent and vast knowledge.
I loved that she always referred to her son as "our David". Donna along with her husband Jim, were the 'gold standard' for other parents struggling to understand and cope with the challenges and complex needs of their own children. They were a great team!
Donna, was an amazing Ambassador, a caring Mentor, an encouraging Coach, a wise Counselor and a true Champion for families, all wrapped up in the beautiful gift of a loving Mom, the name she treasured the most.
Jill and Wendy, thank you for sharing her with our world.
With a grateful heart,
Carolynn Morrison
SA

Stephen Ayres

Posted at 07:07pm
It's rare to know someone for decades and have never seen them express negativity or anger. That was Donna. She always seemed to have a smile on her face and something kind or funny to say - no matter what the situation. My mom - Barb Ayres - played regular bridge games with Donna along with Flo Sanford and Marg Kus through the 1970's and 80's. Our families all became quite close and even had an annual summer event where we would all head over to Toronto Island or Ontario place for a picnic. Looking back at those times growing up, they were truly magical. And Donna was right there in the centre of it all - always offering to share something (a story; an idea; KFC) and encouraging us kids to go have fun. Later, when I was in my teens, I would often cycle past Donna and Jim's place on my way to my grandparents house in Agincourt . I always dropped in for a quick chat or a glass of water. Hanging out with Jill, Wendy and David was always a pleasure and Donna always made me feel at home.
Seeing her and my mom share such a great friendship for so many years helped shape the way I see the world: with kindness and laughter. My mom was incredibly lucky to have such a friend as Donna. When my mom's health took a turn for the worse last December and she was down to her final days, a steady stream of her closer friends came by Lake Kushog to say their goodbyes. Owing to her own health struggles, Donna wasn't able to be amongst them: an absence which was felt profoundly by all of us. Last week, hearing the news of Donna's passing, felt like losing my mom all over again as yet another significant and special part of my life slipped away - a part linked so closely through their unique and lasting friendship. Amazing people do that to you. And Donna was amazing. I wish I could give Jill, Wendy and David a huge hug right now - all the way from here in Australia. You have my deepest condolences (and a handful of bridge mix when the grown up's aren't looking!). Steve Ayres (Sydney, Australia)
JJ

Jane Joris

Posted at 11:19am
My deepest condolences to Donna's family. i worked with Donna on the OASIS Board. I learned so much from her and her positive outlook, tenacious advocacy and endearing grace all wrapped up in a lovely package with an incredible smile will always be remembered. She spoke lovingly of her family and I know that all of you will have beautiful memories to carry you through the painful moments.
JC

Joyce Curry

Posted at 11:35am
My memories of Donna are from about 60 years ago. But they are still bright, and remind me of how very much I enjoyed her company. We taught together at Brown School in Toronto, around 1960. Donna was fun, always cheerful and full of life. Since I had a car, and lived not far from her Broadway Ave. home, I used to drive her to work. I was at Donna and Jim's wedding. Then I moved away to England shortly after that and we lost touch. It was good to read what a full and generous life she led. I am very sorry for your loss.
Joyce (Lundy) Curry
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Paula Murphy

Posted at 10:03pm
Donna and my mother were friends for many years and played tennis together. I had the absolute pleasure of running into her over the past few decades as I work in the developmental services sector. Always a smile and a kind word for me. She was a tireless advocate and an amazing human being. I hope her and my mom are having a tennis match and a cool drink together.
My deepest condolences to the family.

Paula Murphy
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