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.