Donna Hoel, age 92, of Ortonville, MN, passed away on Thursday, April 14, 2022, at her home.
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. at First English Lutheran Church in Ortonville, MN. Visitation will be held on Monday, April 18, 2022, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the church with a prayer service beginning at 7:00 p.m. Visitation will continue one hour prior to the service at the church on Tuesday. Pastor Denise Fossen will officiate the service and interment will be at Mound Cemetery in Ortonville.
Donna Marie (Ness) Hoel was born on June 19th, 1929, to parents, Oscar and Olga (Carlson) Ness. Donna graduated from Erskine High School in 1947. She boarded the train to Minneapolis to receive a degree from Miss Woods School for Kindergarten Teachers. She taught in Northfield, Crookston, Fargo, and Ortonville, MN. Patriotic Donna sent homemade fudge to three soldiers. Bill responded and true love was born. William R. Hoel and Donna were married in 1953. Bob, Nancy and Kris were all born in Fargo, ND, where Donna taught, and William began his Pharmacy career. They moved to Huron, SD, in 1962 where they worked and gained many precious friendships. In 1967, they moved to beautiful Big Stone Lake in Ortonville.
Family, teaching and serving were strong threads in the tapestry of Donna’s life. She grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins who enjoyed each other throughout their lives. Donna loved music. She directed children’s choirs and loved singing in her church choir still. She was the facilitator of precious family memories. Donna could pack a picnic, launch the boat, and have everything ready for an evening on the lake as soon as William got home from work. Her patience and care allowed William to journey through dementia with grace and dignity. Donna was ever cooking and feeding her children, in-laws, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They all loved her lefsa, Swedish wafer cookies, orange rolls, and so many special treats. Ask any family member about Cheeseball Jell-O! Donna’s hospitality, her flexibility, and her joy extended to not only her family but all of their friends. It was never a surprise to know that someone who didn’t have a special place to go was welcomed at family’s table and in their home.
Donna and Bill shared a joy in giving. They lived their belief that they were “blessed… to be a blessing”. Donna participated in many formal programs in their church and community: healthcare board, church boards, Sunday School, Day of Love, Scandinavian Food Fair, Habitat for Humanity, Kinship, foster care, refugee programs, and Meals on Wheels, which she delivered to people decades younger than herself. She was grateful for the opportunity to serve. Special notes and cards in the mail, flowers from her garden, food from her kitchen, and sharing her time and energy to lighten someone else’s load was her priority. Service was her superpower, her secret recipe for seeking joy in her own life.
Donna is survived by her three children: Robert (Ruth) Hoel of Rochester, MN; Nancy (Anthony) Hilleren of Benson, MN; and Kristen (Jeffery) Nornes of Erskine, MN; her cherished grandchildren: Becca (Stuart) Sedlack, Elizabeth (Will) Kan, Marah (Nick) Runtsch, Noah (Joy) Zehringer, Hannah Zehringer, Aaron Zehringer, Jordan (Jessica) Zehringer, Norah Hilleren, Sophie Hilleren, Casey (Alyssa) Nornes, Riley Nornes, and Indiana Nornes; Donna delighted in her 14½ great-grandchildren: Carson, Oscar, Milo, Shelby, Calvin, Jacob, Christian, Luis, Isaiah, Cruz, Henry, Emmett, Thatcher, Lilah and Baby Nornes; brother-in-law, Wayne Selfors of Colorado; and all of her nieces, nephews, in-laws, and cousins were all part of her heart and her family. Each of them knew that they were loved, cherished, and in her prayers.
Donna was preceded in death by her husband, Bill; her parents, Oscar and Olga Ness; her sister, Carol Selfors; in-laws: Sylvia and Alan Schultz; and Richard and Marcia Hoel, and her nieces: Susan and Kathy.
In lieu of flowers, memorials to Big Stone Healthcare Foundation, First English Lutheran Church, or a charity of your choice in Donna’s name are preferred.