DONNA PEMBERTON FELTHAUSER September 5, 1927 – May 2, 2022
Donna Felthauser died at her home on May 2, 2022. She was 94 years old.
Donna was born in Los Angeles, California on September 5, 1927 to Mr. and Mrs. James E. and Marth A. Pemberton. She was born at the French Hospital in Los Angeles because her mother’s doctor said they could not trust the Alhambra “field” hospital.
At Alhambra, she gained her beloved little sister, Arden. She remembers her father building her a dressing table out of crates of oranges left over from nearby orange groves. She also remembered going to kindergarten with her friend Theresa and they had so much fun on the way eating dates that had fallen from the date palms that they were often late for school.
In 1935, the family moved to their new home in San Gabriel, California, where they had their own orange trees and later avocado trees that her mother had planted. There she enjoyed roller-skating while impersonating Olympic skater Sonja Henie, then cooling off by lying on the grass under the trees. The meal Donna chose for her birthday growing up was a delicious meal cooked by her mother of lamb chops and spinach. She would also enjoy a horseback ride with her father on this special day.
In 1940, her life changed when her father, a reserve officer in the American army, was called up for active duty. Over the next five years, she attended many different schools as the family moved following her father’s many postings. They went to Paso Robles, California; San Louis Obispo, California; San Diego, California; Battle Creek, Michigan; and Pittsburgh, PA until her father was sent to Europe in early 1944 and they went to Coalinga, CA to live with her mother’s sister. While at Coalinga (for his last 1 ½ years of high school), he was asked to be the school bus driver (with the help of his sister, Arden, keeping discipline).
After graduating from high school, she chose to attend the University of California (Berkeley). She received her bachelor’s degree in decorative arts and obtained a teaching certificate in elementary education in 1949. During her senior year, she joined the university’s hiking club and on a hike at the Pinnacles she met Harry Felthauser who was immediately convinced that he had met the woman he would marry. After a few years of extensive hiking and three marriage proposals, they became engaged in 1951 and were married on June 29, 1952.
After graduating, she took a bike trip through New England with American Youth Hostel. She also took flying lessons. As Donna and Harry continued to date and she considered these marriage proposals, she taught 5e year at Washington Elementary in Berkeley.
After the wedding and a honeymoon in Canada, Donna and Harry moved to Los Alamos, NM. In their early days in Los Alamos they were part of a Chinese dinner club, and a few years later they were part of a “gourmet” dinner club nicknamed the “grub club”.
Donna spent many years substitute teaching at Los Alamos schools and one year at the San Ildefonso Day School. Donna was an artist and enjoyed taking painting and pastel lessons. She enjoyed attending LAHS art classes because it gave her the opportunity to create and learn new things, like jewelry making. Donna’s artistic talents included learning to decorate cakes, which she did for special occasions, such as making a three-tiered wedding cake for her parents’ 50th birthday.e anniversary.
Donna was adventurous and this led to many outdoor activities including skiing at Sawyer’s Hill (before Pajarito Mountain opened), many family hikes and camping trips, and many rafting trips. Donna was part of a women’s hiking club for many years that went by the name “Over the Hill Gang”. A lifelong desire to see Europe finally came true with a trip to Germany, Austria and Italy, then one to England and Scotland.
More than anything, however, family was most important to Donna. All trips were centered around visiting family – even trips to Europe. Donna liked to talk about her “dozens of cousins” and was a busy pen pal keeping up with her extended family and Harry’s family. She sent over a hundred Christmas cards to family and friends, all with a personal note. She loved to talk about her Danish grandmother, of whom she said: “she slaughtered the English language but that didn’t stop her”. Family and family history were important, so she liked to share how her Danish grandmother and her Norwegian grandfather met on the boat to America (he was on his way to become a ship’s captain for the Packers of Alaska). She also liked to talk about her other grandfather who came west (to California) from Missouri on the Oregon Trail as a little boy.
Donna was predeceased by her daughter, Jana Gail Felthauser, her parents Martha Andersen Pemberton and James Emmons Pemberton, Jr., her sister Arden Martha Pemberton Keller, and her “dozens of cousins”.
Donna is survived by her husband Harry E. Felthauser, her children James T. Felthauser (Karen), Kathleen D. Felthauser, Mark A. Felthauser and Roger P. Felthauser, her grandchildren Erik, Jason (Anabel), Dana, Alisha and Kyle (Clara) and her cousin Janette Knott Shetter.