Nancy Jane (Helsel) Donahue

January 1, 1933 ~ December 11, 2019 (age 86)


Nancy Jane Helsel Donahue, 86, formerly of Centerville, peacefully passed away December 11, 2019, in Conroe, Texas.

Nancy was born on January 1,1933 to Eula Douglass Helsel and Dewey Lee Helsel in Sacramento, CA. She grew up in Sacramento, graduated from Sacramento High School in 1951, and from the Highland School of Nursing in Oakland, CA in 1953. She went on to earn her Associate Degree from Indian Hills Community College in 1971.

Nancy met Richard Donahue in 1954 when they were both working at Sacramento County General Hospital and they married on December 10, 1954. They lived in Florida and California while Rich was in the Navy and had three children: Cathy, Mike, and Cliff. In 1963, they moved to Centerville, Iowa and settled to raise their three children in Rich's home town.

Nancy's life was animated by a love of learning. She was a voracious reader and her knowledge was wide ranging. She treasured her family and instilled in her children her love of family, an incredible work ethic, and a passion for education. In her younger years she was an avid tennis player, a championship bowler, and golfer. Nancy was an enthusiastic stamp collector, was a Charter Life-Time Member of the American Philatelic Society, and traded stamps with collectors all over the world. She started playing the piano before the age of five and studied until after she graduated from high school.

Nancy opened her home to the youth of the community and the friends of her children were regular visitors to the Donahue's home. She was actively involved in Centerville girl and boy scout groups and performed as the Girl Scout Cookie Chairman for Appanoose County for five years in a row. She was a very proud member of Chapter KA, P.E.O. of Centerville, Iowa.

Nancy was a much beloved daughter, sister, wife and mother. She is survived by her children Cathy (Randy) of the Woodlands, TX; Mike of Columbia, MO; and Cliff of Madill, OK; by 10 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren; and her brother, Jack (Sandy) Helsel of Susanville, CA.

She was preceded in death by her parents Eula and Dewey Helsel; her husband Richard Donahue; her sister Jean Streader; and her brother Doug Reece.

A private graveside service will be held for Nancy at Oakland Cemetery in Centerville, IA. A public fellowship gathering will be held from 12PM-2PM, Saturday, June 26, 2021 at Lucile's Steaks & Spirits (The Continental Hotel) located on the east side of the Centerville Square.  In lieu of flowers, please consider making a gift in her memory to the Dementia Society of America. Memorials may be mailed to Lange Funeral Home and Crematory, C/O Donahue family, 1900 South 18th Street, Centerville, Iowa 52544. Condolences may be shared online at   

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