Donna MacNeil

Donna Marie MacNeil

1941 - 2021

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Obituary of Donna Marie MacNeil

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Donna Marie MacNeil (nee MacKenzie)
January 28, 1942 - April 11, 2021

Right to the end, mom taught us about life and love. Donna came into this world a charming, curious and creative little girl, accompanied by her identical twin, Deanne, and predeceased by her brother, Victor. Born in Sydney, NS to a gentle but witty steelworker and a determined, talented homemaker, images of mom’s early life took shape in her stories; coal and kerosene, hopscotch and homemade dresses, clouds of black silt on laundry day, frugal beginnings where nothing went to waste. Older siblings Rod and Joy looked on as the twins took center stage, their childhood made more remarkable by a rare and sustained commitment to conformity; every dress, button and sock in its perfect little place, image after image of them perfectly dressed, perfectly composed and perfectly identical.

But while the world was looking in and marvelling, mom was looking out, taking it all in. An inquiring mind from the outset, these early days aroused in her the life-long habit to notice, observe and analyze whatever lay before her. In 2014 she wrote an incredible autobiography telling of her lifelong adventures and addressing the themes of relationships, family, religion and schools that captivated mom and remained central to her life as wife, mother, friend and teacher.

While mom’s ambitions led her to teacher education at Saint Francis Xavier, NS, and a long career as a teacher, her heart led her to dad. Donna and Jerry married in 1963 and what followed was a whirlwind of six children in eight years amid the backdrop of ever-changing scenery. Mom so willingly followed the path of dad’s career moving from home to home, from province to province; NS, Quebec, Ontario, BC, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and finally Manitoba, the details are dizzying, lifelong friendships and memories were formed, but the constant amidst the change was family. Mom used her enthusiasm and talents to cook, bake, knit, sew, build, create, renovate, volunteer, teach, coach...whatever it took to provide a dynamic, stable and loving home. She made sure we were educated, experienced and able, bringing music, pets, crafts, camping, clubs and sports into our lives, how she ever found the time remains a mystery.

What was clear though was her love for our father, Jerry. As kids we wanted to hear again and again the story of them meeting, their magical first blind date, their wedding. From their early romance to the ins and outs of family life, their love grew with us into adulthood and together they opened their hearts to whatever and whomever we brought into our lives. Mom supported our interests, careers and hobbies, was a loving mother-in-law and as we settled into our adult lives she settled into a new role, that of adoring grandmother. She welcomed it all with open arms, the growing families, the visits and sleepovers with the grandkids and she continued to love and cherish the people in her life. And speaking of the people in her life, decades of friendships were made and celebrated through travels, music, cards and dinners. She was much loved by all she met. We are all so lucky to have known her, mom forged her own path and made better the lives of her family, friends and students through her caring, wisdom, generosity and humour.  Her hands and heart are in the people we’ve become.  

Donna is lovingly remembered by her husband, Jerry, and her beloved children, Scott, Adair (Lorne), Corinne, Todd (Rachelle), Brett (Christine) and Tania (Laine) and her grandchildren, Quinn, Cam, Nigel, Liam, Luc, Hayden (Kalina), Mackenzie, Kaylie, Ben and Caelan. She also leaves her sisters Joy (John) and Deanne and an extended loving family. Donna was predeceased by her parents, Roderick and Eva, and brothers Victor and Roderick.  

Flowers are gratefully declined, memorial donations may be made to the CancerCare Manitoba, Riverview Health Center or a charity of your choice.  A special thanks to the staff at Riverview Health Center for their gracious and compassionate care of our mother.

A Private Funeral Service will be held on Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. at Mary, Mother of the Church.  

The service will be available via Live Streaming. If you would like your name to appear in the guest book, please email your name to re: Donna MacNeil

Adam’s Funeral Home of Notre Dame de Lourdes, Manitoba in care of arrangements.  Phone 204-248-2201.  To view the service and leave condolences, please visit

A Memorial Tree was planted for Donna
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at MacIsaac Funeral Home LTD