Obituary: Donna Pemberton Felthauser Sept. 5, 1927 – May 2, 2022

Donna Felthauser passed away at home on May 2, 2022.  She was 94.

Donna was born in Los Angeles, CA 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 ‘country’ hospital in Alhambra.  In Alhambra she gained her beloved baby sister, Arden.  She remembers her father building a dressing table for her out of orange crates that were leftover from the nearby orange groves.  She also remembered walking to kindergarten with her friend Theresa and they had so much fun along the way while eating dates fallen from the date palms that they were frequently late to school.

In 1935, the family moved to their new home in San Gabriel, CA where they had their own orange trees and later avocado trees that her mother had planted.  There she enjoyed roller skating while pretending to be the Olympic skater, Sonja Henie and then cooling off while lying on the grass under the trees.  Donna’s chosen meal for her birthday when growing up was a delicious meal cooked by her mother of lamb chops and spinach.  She would also enjoy on that special day a horseback ride with her father.

In 1940, her life changed as her father, a reserve officer in the U.S. Army, was called to active duty.  During the next five years she attended many different schools as the family moved following her father’s many postings.  They went to Paso Robles, CA; San Louis Obispo, CA; San Diego, CA; Battle Creek, MI; and Pittsburgh, PA until her father was sent to Europe early in 1944 and they went to Coalinga, CA to live with her mother’s sister.  While in Coalinga (for her last 1 ½ years of high school) she was asked to be the school bus driver (with the help of her sister, Arden, keeping discipline).

Upon graduating from high school, she chose to attend the University of California (Berkeley).  She earned her BA in Decorative Art and earned a teaching certificate in Elementary Education in 1949.  In her senior year she joined the University hiking club and on a hiking trip to the Pinnacles she met Harry Felthauser who immediately was convinced he had met the woman he would marry.  After a couple more years of many hikes and three marriage proposals they were engaged in 1951 and married on June 29, 1952.

After graduation, she made a bicycle trip through New England with American Youth Hostel.  She also took flying lessons.  While Donna and Harry continued to date and she contemplated these marriage proposals, she taught 5th grade at Washington Elementary in Berkeley.

After the wedding and a honeymoon trip to 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 some years later were part of a ‘gourmet’ dinner club that was nicknamed the ‘grub club’.

Donna spent many years substitute teaching in Los Alamos Schools and one year assisting at the Day School in San Ildefonso.  Donna was an artist and enjoyed taking painting and pastel classes.  She enjoyed subbing in the art classes at LAHS as it gave the opportunity to create and learn new things – like making jewelry.  Donna’s artistic talents included learning to decorate cakes which she did for special occasions like making a three tiered wedding cake for her parent’s 50th anniversary.

Donna was adventurous and that led to many outdoor activities that included skiing at Sawyer’s Hill (before the opening of Pajarito Mountain), many family hiking and camping trips, and many rafting trips.  Donna was part of a ladies hiking club for many years that took the name, “Over the Hill Gang”.  A lifelong desire to see Europe was finally realized with a trip to Germany, Austria, and Italy and then one to England and Scotland.

More than anything, though, family was the most important to Donna.  All trips were centered around visiting family – even the trips to Europe.  Donna loved to talk about her ‘dozens of cousins’ and was a busy correspondent keeping up with her extended family and Harry’s family.  She would send out more than a hundred Christmas cards to family and friends – all with a personal note.  She loved talking about her Danish grandmother, of whom she would say, “she slaughtered the English language but that didn’t stop her”.  Family and family history was important, so she loved telling how her Danish grandmother and Norwegian grandfather met on the ship to America (He was on his way to be a ship captain for the Alaska Packers).  She also loved to tell about her other grandfather who came west (to California) from Missouri on the Oregon Trail as a small boy.

Donna was preceded in death 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.