Donna C. Schoewe, age 94, of 415 West 8th Street, Winona, passed away peacefully with her son, Mark, and daughter-in-law Janie, by her side at Gundersen Health in La Crosse this past Thursday morning.
Born on a farm near Mabel, Minnesota, on March 11, 1919, to parents Peter and Caroline Ellestad Loughrey, she grew up in Winona and was a member of the city’s first Girl Scout troop. She was a member of Central Lutheran Church and later St. Martin’s in Winona. Educated in the Phelps school, she went on to graduate from St. Olaf College and Winona Teachers College. From there, she went on to teach in Erskine, Minn., and in Galesville, Wis., for a couple of years, after which she joined the faculty at Winona Teachers College.
In January of 1945, she married St. Olaf classmate Pastor Theodore Schoewe and decided to leave her position at the college as a teachers’ supervisor, going with him with only a cookbook and a pressure cooker, to begin both a family and a mission in Glenwood, Iowa. Then later she moved to Jefferson, Iowa, and Del Rio, Tex., serving parishes alongside her husband at each of those places, during which time she and her husband had four children.
When he was selected to receive a regular commission in the Air Force during the Korean war, she and her children moved from Del Rio, Tex., to Kilmer, N.J. Then, in 1953, she led the way and took her four young ones overseas to join their father in France, where number five was later born in 1954 in La Rochelle; then she and her family went to Germany for a couple of years, and in 1956 they moved back stateside, and were stationed in Illinois, Wyoming, Panama, Duluth, Minn., Turkey, Albuquerque, N.M., and finally, Grand Forks, N.D. On retirement from the Air Force in 1976, she and her husband decided to settle down in Winona, residing not only in the same house she grew up in, but also the house in which she married Theodore.
In 1978, she went with him to serve Redeemer Lutheran church in the Panama Canal Zone for two years. Even upon their return to Winona in 1980, Donna kept busy supporting Theodore in filling pastoral vacancies eleven different times in a span of fifteen years. Around 1995, she and her husband were able to finally retire enough to go fishing and do some gardening and bread baking, and all of the other things people generally look forward to doing in retirement. They were a team, not only in marriage and family, but foremost, they were a team in the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some of the many interests and activities she felt important and supported were the Winona Historical Society, Minnesota Public Radio, and Native American Indian missions. She was a long-time member of TOPS until 10 years ago. She loved the Winona Public library from when she was a little girl, and was a prolific reader until she could no longer read. She loved architecture and had a deep appreciation for music. She played the organ and piano and taught Sunday school.
She loved to fish and was Theodore’s first mate. She even caught a nine-pound walleye. She loved chirping birds as did her mother and now, her children. She was simply-and perhaps if you would ask her-“a people person.” Winona and the wonderful people in it have always been very special to her, especially after having lived so many other places all around the world. She has always been very proud to be a “Winona Girl!” Her last years were filled with the simple enjoyment of daily life at home with her husband “Joe” and her sons John and Teddy.
Mealtime with daily family devotions were special. Favorite pastimes were listening to her books for the blind and public radio and sitting in the sunroom looking out into the backyard and make out the birds and watch the squirrels and identify the different trees she and her husband planted over the years. She especially loved sitting in the swing her son, Philip, set up for them in their lebensraum under the apple tree.
Donna was indeed a lady of fashion and had a lot of fun. She enjoyed her spiffy outfits, especially her Barney Google type socks. One simple thing each day Donna enjoyed in her last months was to make the trip up and down her stairs on her own steam, rattling the family camel bells on the way. Donna was sharp to the end despite her blindness, and knew where things were. She was a chip off the old block and proud to be her father’s daughter and of “Scotch-Irish” descent. Donna knew several languages, and had fun teaching people in regular conversation a few words from each of them. Besides always being ready to be the first to spot Sugar Loaf for the day, one thing she would always require of us as we drove by the university’s baseball field was to toot the horn three times; one for her father after whom Loughrey Field was named, one for her mother, and one for her brother, Phillip. Now she warrants her own toot, too.
She was a dedicated teacher, faithful wife and devoted mother to her children. Over the years, Donna prepared and set up 18 different “homes” with the 18th and final one being good old 415 West 8th Street. Now, as a true servant of Jesus Christ, the Lord her God, she has gone to the Home that he prepared for her. She is survived by her husband, T.M. Schoewe (originally of Plainview, Minn.,) and five children; Jane and John Schoewe of Winona, Mark and Jane (Walker) Schoewe of Troy, Ohio, (grandsons Jason, Douglas and Zachary); Philip and Karen (Nichols) Schoewe of Lubbock, Tex.; and Theodore (Teddy) Schoewe of Winona, and brother-in-law, pastor Donald and Dianne Schoewe of Roosevelt, Minn., (nephews Nick, Martin, Matthew and Peter; niece, Claire); brother-in-law Gregory (deceased) and Dorcas Schoewe (nieces Jennifer and Peggy); sister-in-law Genevieve (Schoewe) (deceased) and Mel Hippen (deceased) of Mason City, Iowa., (and nieces Lynn and Sara).
There will a committal service on November 15 at 11 a.m., at Woodlawn Cemetery, and a memorial service at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church on November 16 at 11 a.m. A luncheon will follow in the Fellowship Hall after the service. In lieu of flowers, any and all donations will go to Donna’s favorite Native American Indian Missions. Martin-Myhre Funeral Home is assisting the family.