My sincere condolences to the Meyers and Donelson families. I only today just learned of the passing of Linda Donelson. I am currently reading her book Out of Isak Dinesen, a brilliant work that answers many questions I had about Karen Blixen and her life in Kenya. I became curious about the meaning of the publisher's name, Coulsong. While looking it up on the internet discovered Linda's obituary. My copy of Linda's book is autographed by her and I shall treasure it now even more than before. Again, I am sorry for your loss.
El Paso, Texas
In 2003 I struck up an email friendship with Linda via her site www.karenblixen.com. This week, as part of a prospective writing project, I am communicating with a married couple in Iowa whom I may end up interviewing. Thinking of Iowa made me think of Linda and I decided to Google her name to see if I could find any updates, Blixen related or not. I let out a small gasp when her obituary was the first entry that showed up on the search engine list, clicked on the link and ended up reading every word on these wonderful pages: the obituary itself as well as the sentiments posted. However, the photos were what moved me to tears yet also made me smile again and again. The slideshow showing Linda's extraordinary rich life in pictures was like a film I never wanted to end. As the years went by image wise, showing her from childhood to her final years, what struck me more than anything was her smile. Her lovely face of course changed as she grew older, yet her smile remained the same: serene, warm, making a strong connection with the viewer.
I knew some details about her life from the Blixen book flap. But a picture is indeed worth a thousand words and it was through these pictures that I now feel I know a woman I never met, yet feel I did. Thank you kindly to Linda's husband, children and friends for sharing those lovely images with the public.
What is the meaning of life? Besides continuing the species, well, the answer is easy: LOVE. Linda's rich life is testament to this. She lived to be 69 years old. I wish she had lived to be at least a hundred, but she made every day count. The photos show her raising a family, being happily married, graduating medical school, traveling, being a grandmother, spending time with friends, and much more. What a lovely woman. I'm so very honored to have known her.
Many belated, deepest condolences to Linda's family and friends.
Sharon Jensen Zlotnik,
Long Beach, CA
August 25, 2014
I am stunned and very saddened. I was trying to phone Linda (my Maid of Honor) to see if she received the invitation to our 50th Wedding Anniversary this September. Not receiving a reply in the past month, I went to the internet to see if there was a different contact to use; that's when I found her obituary.
I wanted to learn more about the author of the wonderful book on Isak Dinesen, and found out she died in 2012. Looking at her pictures, it seems to me that Linda's own life was remarkable on its own terms -- not just as a writer. I'm happy to see that she was so loved. Please accept my condolences.
I was in John's lab in the 1980s when the Donelson children were in their early years. I did not see Linda very often but when I did she was the most warm and welcoming person and always had an interesting story to tell (usually more). More important was that she took a personal interest in all of us in the lab and was genuinely concerned about how we were doing. She provided substantive encouragement as we struggled to overcome the challenges that are the nature of biomedical research. I also admired Linda's spirit of adventure, love of the outdoors and what I would call "Iowa sensibility" that John shares as well.
John and family, so sorry to hear about the passing of Linda.
May the Almighty continue to give you strength to bear this enormous loss. Her wonderful memories will be a source of solace for all of you.
I fondly remember our lunch outings and visits in Iowa City. linda and John attending all of my kids birthday parties with Linda bringing her camera and taking pictures.
When we moved to Iowa city in 1986 and didn't know anyone, the Donelsons quickly became our family. When I had my first child in 1987, she came to the hospital to see me. As a young mother at 24, I essentially learned parenting from Linda. She taught me that parenting was the most important job in the world. She introduced me and my children to the right books and places in Iowa City. She was always available to listen to my parenting issues and offered advice when needed.
I still remember her trying to teach me how to drive stick shift.
I will never forget her words of wisdom about life. She was a woman full of adventure, joy for life and love for family. One of a kind!
Linda, you will be greatly missed but never forgotten.
Ngozi and Ngozi Erondu
I loved working with Linda to help sell her wonderful book.
Hearing about birding by Linda during our University Athletic Club lunch was a treat. I am so sorry to loose her and cherish my memory of our friendship.
Lyn and Emory - our whole family is deeply saddened by this news. Your mom was so very special to all of us - someone who cared deeply about her family and providing service to others. As busy as she was, she always had time to visit - either over the phone or in person - and certainly when it came to keeping our collective children "in line" we plotted and schemed often. She understood the psyche of kids better than anyone and subsequently she helped us through those "growing up" years. We are just devastated at this news - your mom was one of those rare individuals who was so "full of life" that we all expected she would live forever or at least in her later years, be running the nursing home. We are so sorry to have missed the service celebrating her life. We were overseas and have just found out. Again, our deepest condolences during this challenging time. Our hearts and prayers go out to you, your dad and your whole family. Dave Dierks and Family
Linda and I met 32 years ago in Kenya. Our husband were researchers together at an international laboratory and as fellow Americans and at home mothers, we clicked immediately. I was a new mother and Linda was a seasoned veteran with 3 children and a no nonsense approach to child rearing. We talked and laughed for hours the first time we met and I knew I wanted to be her friend forever. Sadly, forever ended far to soon. We did not know that our visit to your farm last year would be our last. We will miss Linda, the Thanksgiving calls, the detailed Christmas letters and pictures and the long political discussions!
Dear John and Family:
We are extremely saddened to hear the loss of Linda and we extend our profound sympathies to you all. We got to know you and Linda when we met in Ithaca, NY some 42 years ago. We always cherished fond memories of our time together in Ithaca (one particular incident comes to our mind is when we went to a box car restaurant; they let the ladies, Linda and Raji, in but not us because we did not wear ties) and at annual reunions with our friends from Cornell at Marit's house in Ames, IA.
We admire Linda's courage and determination to pursue her goals with tireless energy and successfully complete them. This quality in her was exemplified by her achievement in getting her degree in medicine and in her writing of the biography of Karen Blixen which turned out to be a masterpiece.
We will always cherish the fond memories of her friendship. Our prayers and thoughts are with you all.
Raji and Pad
Dear John and Family~our hearts are with you today as you celebrate Linda's wonderful life. She had a generous spirit and her friendship will forever be a blessing to me. Much love to you all.
I was very fortunate to have been acquainted with Linda, and my deepest sympathies and condolences go out to John and the rest of the family. Linda radiated life. The passing of her radiant and vibrant presence leaves a big void in the lives of those who have known her. Despite the profound sadness, we are living better lives because we have known the life-force that is Linda.
Cathy and I occasionally ran into Linda, often with John and his camera, at nature events, such as an annual dinner of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation up near Decorah, the birding club outing to Cone Marsh, etc. A day I remember well was at Cairo Woods, a Louisa County Park near Columbus Junction. The woods are about a square mile. Linda and John, Cathy and I, and John and Mike Broz were there. It was late summer if I remember right, and kind of hot, but much cooler in the woods. I don't remember what we saw, but there must have been woodpeckers and forest songbirds such as nuthatches, chickadees and scarlet tanagers. On walks with good birders, such as that one, one learns about the natural world while seeing more birds. The other thing about such walks is that various questions get raised, as there are always things to wonder about. On that walk, we came to a small creek with a kind of sandy bottom. I remember picking up these tiny rocks, which included agates and other colored rocks that were in sharp contrast to the limestone one expects in Iowa. This sent me home to dig out my Geology of Iowa book to try to figure out why there would be agates in that creek. The best I came up with was that they rode down on a glacier from far north. In fact, I recall seeing similar pebbles on the north shore of Lake Superior. The thing is, these sorts of questions come up, and some get answered and some don't. If one is lucky to be with folks like Linda, who know things about nature, one has a better chance of finding things to wonder about and for getting some understanding. At least to some questions, maybe just the little ones. In the process, maybe one learns to accept not getting answers to the big ones.
We share in your sadness as you grieve the loss of a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and friend. Linda will be missed by so many family members and friends. She instilled a sense of adventure in her children's lives with her varied interests and worldly adventures. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Byron and Suzanne Bork
Linda was an amazing person. She was taken away much too soon.
We are so sorry to learn of Linda's passing. What an amazing woman with such an amazing family! We are thinking of all of the Donelson's as you all move through these very hard times.We send you our love and caring!
I'm sorry to learn of your loss. My sympathies are extended to you and your family.
So sorry to hear this news. Linda was such a beautiful and peaceful mother, grandmother, friend and wife. Please know you are all in my thoughts and prayers. I have such wonderful childhood memories of time with your mom and hours of playing at your home. Love and hugs to you all.
Pony Pony Huckabuck is the daughter of Jonas Jonas Huckabuck and his wife, Mama Mama Huckbuck. Linda introduced me to the childhood story of the Huckabuck mid-west farming family. There was a poem, a ditty Linda recited. I never read the story; only knew Linda's rendition all these years. The flavor I got from Linda's portrayal is that there exists a land of hope and luck and milk and honey (near to her) called the mid-west! Yep, Linda told me of the Mid-west.
I was familiar with the adventures of one Peter and Farmer McGregor, but the Huckabuck story was new. Linda's twist is a drumming echo from 1964 and that far off land where life is an optimistic combination of knowledge (science?) and luck and family and happiness. Somehow, it seems that Linda indeed is that Pony Pony she spoke of. Wow, what a wonderful life and adventure and family we hear about in the obituary comments.
I was going to post a copy of the Pony Pony poem that is so Linda to me (like done on a TV show where the Put a lime in the Coconut, Drink 'm bot down ditty was spontaneously chanted as someone was laid to rest). I cannot find the poem, but I discovered a line in the (Carl Sanberg?) story attributed to Pony Pony that speaks to me anew, a secret formula Linda appreciated and must have guided her in her constant adventure, her life, her ability to learn, to love, to contribute, to set an example, to inspire. The line is apropos too (between Thanksgivings, Canada and US). When Pony Pony cut open a huge squash she is preparing for Thanksgiving: Squashes make your luck change good to bad and bad to good, says Pony Pony.
Personally, I think in the years I have learned that life is really a little more complicated than the vision Linda taught me with the Pony Pony story: squashes are definitely essential to the formula, but a lime on the squash is something that works especially well too! I suspect Linda beat me to learning this too. Thank you Linda.
Very sorry to hear of your loss. All these many years later... the Peace Corps experience keeps us together and thinking of each other.
I just read this obituary and it sounds like a love and success story in many ways. First of all, all the the lives she touched to lead to all these comments. It sounds like she was a loving, unselfish person. A humanitarian. A leader, and a lover. And there's a love story woven in here. It made me want to cry. It looks like the world lost a very special person. Her family must have a greater loss than many will ever know by the love and kindness that is remarked upon about this woman. And it sounds like she is at peace and left with the love of her life at her bedside. How rare and precious. God Bless this family.
Dear Donelsons, I am so sorry to hear about Linda's passing. She did a remarkable job of raising a wonderful family and always made me feel welcome when we came for visits. She was an inspiration to lead a bigger life than previously imagined.
Dear John and family,
Dear John and Family,
John, please accept my heartfelt sympathy for your loss. I so regret not getting to the PC reunion!
John and family,
I am so sorry for your loss of one of my favorite people, even when she was inexplicably missing when the van doors were about to close. This photo is from our last trip together to California. The world has lost a remarkable lady but we are all the wealthier for having known her.
John and family,
Dear John and family,
I was saddened to learn that Linda had passed and offer you my sincere condolences. Linda always made your home a home for the entire department with her warmth, intelligence, and conversations. When I think of the wonderful things about Iowa, its the extraordinary people like you and Linda that come to mind. My thoughts and prayers go out to you as you go through this difficult time.