Donna Whealon passed away on June 24, 2018, at her home surrounded by her family, culminating a two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer.
Through the way she lived her life, and underlined in her battle with cancer, she will be remembered as a strong, compassionate and caring woman. Like the flowers that she loved tending to at her home, she was truly beautiful, inside and out with a patient and deep-rooted soul. Within her children and grandchildren she leaves a legacy of adventure-seeking, a seemingly unmatchable work ethic, and a genuine appreciation for the world around her.
Donna was born April 11, 1952 in Billings, Mont. to Ann and John Evertz along with her twin sister Diane. The family ranched in Edgar, Mont. for a short time before moving to Darby where John began his career in the lumber industry, and that led them to later relocate to Missoula, Mont. where Donna started school. The family bought a ranchette in Arlee, Mont., which they ran for a little while before moving to Evaro, Mont. and eventually back to Missoula. When Donna was in middle school, John got a job at Plum Creek Timber Co. in Pablo, Mont. and the family moved to the east shore of Flathead Lake and later into a home that they built in Polson.
After graduating from Polson High School in 1970, Donna went to Billings Business College, where she learned skills that she proudly continued to use throughout her entire life. When Donna finished her classes she returned to Polson to look for work. Ann was working at St. Joseph Hospital in the dietary department and urged Donna to apply for an opening in the business department. This began her nearly 37 year career with the hospital, in which she was responsible for a myriad of things, including medical staff credentialing, quality assurance and marketing. It also helped begin her relationship with her husband Jerry.
Although she and Jerry initially met previously, the two hit it off at a party put on by one of Donna’s coworkers. As Donna shared with a smile, “I guess the rest is kind of history, 43 years later.”
When the couple first started dating they spent their days out at the cabin on Flathead Lake that Jerry was building. After just six months of being together, they decided to get married and were wed at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Polson.
During the first Christmas that the couple was together, Jerry shared his passion for skiing with Donna by gifting her her first pair of skis. She learned to love the sport and it became a family pastime that she enjoyed with her children and grandchildren. It also led to Donna and Jerry buying a condo on Big Mountain, and later in life building a home on the mountain in 2010.
Donna and Jerry welcomed their first child, Jason, in 1977 and in 1981 their second son, Jamie, was born. Raising two boys led Donna to attend a lot of sporting events over the years. Although she loved cheering them on in all that they did, she was excited that Jamie gravitated toward her favorite sport of soccer. Donna fell in love with soccer while playing on a co-ed team the hospital put together as part of a rec league in Polson. In addition to sharing their passion for skiing and playing sports with their children and grandchildren, Donna and Jerry also instilled a love for the University of Montana Grizzlies.
Amongst raising the boys and Donna’s work at the hospital, Jerry opened his own business, Whealon Construction, in 1981. The couple also opened storage units, which Donna did the books for.
In 1995, Jason made Donna and Jerry grandparents for the first time as the family welcomed Damon. Six more grandchildren followed from Jason and Jamie’s families — Kayla, Sam, Adaleigh, Addison, Meighla and Theresa Ann. Being a grandma became one of Donna’s greatest joys, and she was happy to give her grandchildren her time and most of all her love.
Donna, who was known for her giving and kind soul, volunteered with the Soroptimist Women’s Organization while working at the hospital, and was always involved with anything that had to do with the hospital, especially the Women’s Auxiliary. When she retired, she volunteered on the board for the Polson Flathead Museum and served in the secretary-treasury role.
She is preceded in death by her parents John and Ann Evertz. She is survived by her loving, devoted husband of nearly 44 years Jerry; their two children and their spouses: Jason and Jane Whealon, and Jamie and Kayla Whealon, all of Polson; her siblings and their spouses: Mark Evertz, David and Eileen Evertz, Joanne Evertz, and Diane Baird, all of Polson; George and Yulanda Evertz of Hungry Horse; and her seven beloved grandchildren.
The Lake Funeral Home in Polson has been entrusted with arrangements. Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 28 at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Polson.