Donna Hastings

Obituary of Donna Kay Hastings

Donna Kay Hastings Donna Kay Hastings passed away on April 20, 2020 from complications of frontotemporal degeneration (FTD). Born March 6, 1948 to John Woodrow Wilson Hastings and Hazel (Winebark) Hastings, Donna was raised on the family farm outside of Marion Center, PA. She and her siblings - Helen, Johnnie, Jude, and Carl - were each other's best friends, playmates, and confidants, a relationship that continues to this day. Music filled the farmhouse. The sisters' tongue-in-cheek rendition of the Lennon Sisters became a hallmark at family celebrations through the years. As a child, Donna showed all of the characteristics that would make up her nature for the rest of her life - she had a gentle, compassionate spirit, and was empathetic, slow to anger and quick to forgive and to laugh. Though quiet and rather shy, her ready laugh made jokesters focus on her, knowing that they'd get a response. When not outright laughing, her face was nearly always lit by a smile that ranged from quiet and charming to beaming. Donna loved to gently tease (accent on "gently"); a favorite form of her teasing was the highly inventive nicknames she gave to every person and every animal that she loved. Donna attended Slippery Rock University and received a BA in Elementary Education and later worked both in the Marion Center school system and at Volunteers of America Daycare Center in Allentown, PA. From 1977 to 1980, "D" and her future husband, John Stiteler, traveled the US, alighting in towns that appealed to them and picking up temporary jobs, including much waitressing work for Donna. They made dozens of friends in Baton Rouge, San Antonio, and Portland, Oregon, as well as meeting scores of interesting characters as they traveled extensively along the Pacific Coast, through the Southwest, and into Mexico. From 1980 to 2000, D and John lived in an isolated farmhouse near Centre Hall, PA. Donna worked for most of those 20 years at the Centre County Women's Resource Center (WRC) in State College. Her initial role there was largely clerical but she moved quickly to counseling domestic violence and sexual assault victims. After completing several law courses on her own initiative, Donna moved into the role of legal advocate, attending hearings with domestic violence victims to support them and advise them of legal processes and their rights. In her time at the WRC she helped hundreds of women and their children escape dangerous situations. She also acted as a liaison, holding seminars for Centre County judges and law-enforcement agencies to keep them informed of changes in domestic violence legislation. From 1993 to 2000 she, along with Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar, co-chaired the Centre County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force, coordinating the response of the local law enforcement and legal communities to these societal blights. Donna and John were wed at the Centre Hall farmhouse on August 13, 1983. Guests came from around the country, arriving a week before and lingering for days after. The Hastings Sisters performed their standards, "Sugar in the Mornin'" and "Sentimental Journey", and dancing on the lawn continued until dawn. One year later their son, Colman Hastings Stiteler, was born on August 12, 1984, and thirty-one years later, the Sisters performed their small set again at Colman's wedding to Jennifer Leigh Lieberman in Jacksonville Beach, FL. While living at Centre Hall Donna also became an accomplished photographer and a passionate runner, winning several awards in local races. In 2000, the family moved to 16 acres of land in the Town of Newfield, near Ithaca, New York, and began to build their own homestead. This home, like the Centre Hall farmhouse, would soon be filled with cats and dogs, many of whom Donna found along the road or otherwise in need of rescue. Like every place they lived, this house would also be filled with Donna's warm, easy laughter. Donna found work at Cornell University Law School where she worked as an administrative assistant. She initially worked in a program concerned with feminism and legal theory and went on to coordinate the Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture. Donna retired from the law school in January of 2016, and in June she and the sisters delighted one last crowd with a performance at her retirement party. Within a short time of her retirement, plans for years of travel, porch-sitting, birdwatching, and trail-walking were derailed by the onset of FTD. In February of 2019, Donna was granted a long-held wish, becoming a "Mimi" with the birth of Colman and Jenni's son, Evan David. This kind and compassionate woman, wife, mother, sister, and friend is missed by all. A true celebration of her life and accomplishments will be held at some point in the future.
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