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Joan White Donald 1931-2018

Joan White Donald, Oxford, CT


Joan was a spirited, independent woman who was always ready to challenge herself, those she loved, and any bureaucracy that got in her way. She was a fierce advocate for the people and causes she loved. With a work ethic that knew no bounds, every team and community that Joan was a part of was better for having had her membership.


With the help of her father, William F. White, Joan developed an early passion for twirling and fife and drum corps. She was an accomplished drum major by the age of 12. The shining star in her showcase of medals for twirling and majoring was the 1949 National Baton Twirling Championship, held in St. Paul, Minnesota. Joan took the twirling world by storm, breaking boundaries from what had previously been a strictly tight, military-style twirling to an open art form of high aerials and twirling with fire. Joan loved ancient fife and drum corps music and was proud to be a Jaybird member of The Company of Fifers & Drummers.


Joan brought drive and excellence to everything she pursued. At the age of 42, Joan took her first college course at Mattatuck Community College in Waterbury, CT. From there she went on to pursue her Associate, Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate degrees. While Joan came late to her education, she knew what a difference it made in her life, opening doors she would not have thought possible earlier in her life. For that reason, she dedicated her career to opening doors for others. This took her to jobs in Career and Student Services at Waterbury State Technical College and later at Naugatuck Valley Community College where she helped students, many like herself non-traditional, find their path in life through higher education.


Joan confronted all challenges with determination. She was a DIY home improvement expert long before there were television shows about it. Joan built beautiful stone walls and dug drainage trenches. She was an accomplished woodworker, a fine seamstress, and as a very early adopter of home computing, she was a self-taught graphic designer. One of Joan's greatest accomplishments was working with her brothers, William White (and wife Ursula) and Robert White (deceased), to build a home for their mother in Oxford, CT. They bought a kit and worked together every weekend until the house was completed. Joan was the type of woman who would roll up her sleeves and build you a house.


A long-time member of the Oxford Land Trust, Joan loved hiking and camping. She cherished many life-long friends including her dear friends since kindergarten in Stamford. Joan’s greatest joy was her family. She leaves behind her children, N. Diane Simmons, Lauren Doninger, and Christopher White as well as the five grandchildren who she adored; Everett (Crystal Taylor), Avery (Steve Vitti), and Griffin (Hayley Boutote) Doninger, and Carter and Mallory White, and her brother William White (Ursula).


Calling hours will be held at The Company of Fifers & Drummers, 62 North Main Street, Ivoryton, CT 06442 on Saturday, December 15 from 1 to 4 pm. A service of remembrance will begin at 4.


In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to The Company of Fifers & Drummers, 62 North Main Street, Ivoryton, CT 06442




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