On March 3, 2023 our beloved mother, wife, daughter and friend, Donna Annette Van Meter (Ponton), fondly known as “the bird” or “that tough old bird”, passed away peacefully with her daughters Gail, Ava, and Monica at her bedside in Highland, MI.
Donna was born November 15, 1930 in Frankfort, Indiana. She was the first of 5 children and was the only daughter of Armond and Dorothy Ponton. Donna loved to dance In her younger years. She enjoyed visiting Monticello, IN. There, you would find her dancing the night away at the dance halls at Lake Shafer.
Donna attended Indiana University in Bloomington, IN and had many fond memories of her time at the quarry pits where she learned how to swim. Her parents knew best though and thought it wise for Donna to come back home. She would eventually choose to attend nursing school at St. Vincent’s Hospital School of Nursing in Indianapolis, IN. You can still find Donna’s graduation class picture on a wall at the hospital.
Donna went on to marry William Monroe Van Meter from Frankfort, IN.
While Donna lived most of her life in Tawas City, MI, she followed her husband’s railroad career through Delphos, Bellevue, and Conneaut, OH, and eventually arriving in Tawas City. As Donna’s health declined, she later moved to Austin, TX to be with her daughter Gail and Gail’s wife Rebecca VanStanton. While in Austin Donna explored Texas culture, Tex-Mex food, painting, and lots of shopping – and occasionally a local beer. Gail, Rebecca, and Donna had many fun adventures and memories while in Austin.
Donna was an accomplished pianist. She could be heard playing piano in productions of the Tawas Bay Players, at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, and then later at the Holy Family Catholic Church. She enjoyed reading, gardening, cooking (although she hated the cooking of all her daughters), shopping (for the latest color, trend, or holiday), line-dancing, and spending time with her family, friends, and pets. She inherited a strong family gene from her parents for collecting, which led to accumulating many, many, many boxes of music.
You could often find her playing her cherished piano. During the summer with windows open she often honored the neighbors with a private concert, whether it was requested or not. Her favorites were classical, religious, and even Neil Sedaka. Donna enjoyed all styles of dancing. She was no stranger to cutting a rug and dancing the night away at the Moose, Elks Club, or American Legion. Country line dancing was her favorite, wearing black fringe boots and a blue Jean jacket – always practicing a kick, ball, change!
During her ninety-two years on Earth Donna devoted her life to her husband, her 6 children, her faith, her community, and her work as a Registered Nurse. She was proud of the time she spent volunteering for the American Red Cross, the time she spent learning and teaching piano, as well as her time with Toastmasters Club. In her later years arthritis and Parkinson’s took away her piano playing but she was comforted by good music, food, the cheerful voices of her many friends including, Vickie Van Meter, George Webb, Sheila Webb, and Spencer Woods. You could often find her on the telephone for hours.
While she spent many of her last years in a wheelchair, she still always found a way to defy logic and gravity in her mishaps. While not quite the same dance numbers she had during her fancy footwork days of line-dancing to Boot-Scootin’ Boogie or Achy Breaky Heart, she still had impressive moves – and stories that went with them – well into her nineties.
Donna had a knack for letting you know her thoughts. She did not mince her feelings or words, and you always knew where you stood, for better or worse. She did always have a kind word when you needed it though.
Donna was preceded in death by her husband, William Monroe Van Meter, her parents, Armond and Dorothy Ponton, and her brother Fred J. Ponton.
Donna will be happily reunited at the rainbow bridge with her yorkie Jasmine and feral kitty Cat-Trina.
Donna is survived by her children (and their spouses), Lisa (Steve) Villanova of East Tawas, MI, Mary (Phillips) Smith of Arvada, CO, John Van Meter of Bloomington, IN, Monica (Joerg) Hohler of Monroe, GA, Ava (Irvin) Potts of Sanford MI, and Gail (Rebecca) VanStanton of West Bloomfield, MI, her grand-children Ryan and Matthew Smith and a great-grandchild Sydney Smith of Arvada, CO, as well as her siblings, G. Gordon (Gloria) Ponton, John Ponton, and Thomas Ponton – all of Indiana.
A viewing will be held Wednesday March 8, 2023 from 10am to 11am with a Funeral Mass celebrated from 11a to 12p at the Holy Family Catholic Church in East Tawas, Michigan. Funeral will immediately follow at Immaculate Heart of Mary Cemetery in Tawas City.
A special thanks to all of those who helped care for Donna in her later years including Lynda, Carrie, Angie, ChiChi, Kathy, Rachel, and Melissa.
We are especially grateful to her daughters Gail and Ava, and daughter-in-law Rebecca. They protected, cared for, and gave countless hours of love to Donna. Which was not easy at times.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, it is asked that you make a time or money donation to your local animal shelter, library, or The Parkinson’s Foundation in Donna’s memory.