Donna J Sunkel
08/10/1940 – 11/29/2021
Obituary For Donna J Sunkel
Donna J. Sunkel, aged 81 years old, passed away at home surrounded by family on November 29th, 2021 in Seattle, Washington.
Donna was born August 10th, 1940 in Dudley, Illinois, the eldest child of Morris H. and Grace Sunkel. Donna grew up on her family’s farm and graduated from Kansas High School in 1958, she went on to study at the University of Illinois, where she joined Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and graduated in 1962 with a degree in Business Administration. She moved on her own to Chicago in 1963 and later to New York City to pursue a master’s degree at the Bank Street College of Education. In 1972, after graduation, she moved to the Pacific Northwest to join her best friend and landed in Seattle where she was a resident for almost 50 years. She spent her first five years working for the YWCA and other social service organizations in the Seattle area before having her two children. She then began another phase of her career at the University of Washington as a financial administrator where she later retired with over 30 years of service.
After her children, her biggest passion was gardening, she was an active Master Gardener and could be found volunteering at the Cesar Chavez Demonstration Garden, Washington Park Arboretum or tending to her own beautifully wild home garden in Montlake. She played soccer from the early 1980s and was a member of several over 50 recreational Women’s National Championship teams. A diehard sports fan, she faithfully supported the Mariners, Seahawks (through thick and thin), the Huskies and her alma mater, U. of I. She was a voracious reader, often reading up to 50 books a year and a member of several book clubs including the Vintage Women, a group that met for over 30 years.
Donna was also an adventurous traveler, visiting Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Jordan, Cuba, Turkey, Europe and many parts of the U.S., on her own, with her sisters, visiting her kids or as part of Road Scholar groups. She supported liberal political causes, volunteered for democratic campaigns and was a member of Grandmothers Against Gun Violence. She was also active on the board of Wider Horizons.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Morris H. and Grace Sunkel. She is survived by her daughter Tesmerelna Atsbeha (Andrew), Son Sennai Atsbeha and Stepdaughter Hirut Negash; grandchildren Solomon, Adara and Adia as well as by her siblings Demmaree Carns, Brenda Lilley (Jackson) and Morris A. Sunkel (Denise) and nieces.
Whether it was finding vibrant, colorful and fun outfits at her favorite boutique sandylew, discovering new plants to expand her diverse and harmonious natural gardenscape, unearthing extraordinary flavors, fruits and vegetables at her favorite farmers’ market, meeting jewelers using unusual materials or traveling to unique and exciting new places; Donna remained a curious seeker her whole life, finding joy and fulfillment in wild beauty, family, friends and a good cup of coffee. She was an exquisite listener, a kind soul and a fierce advocate. She is truly missed and forever held in the hearts of those who loved her.
An outdoor memorial service in her honor will be held at 2 pm on March 26th 2022 in Wisteria Hall Washington Park Arboretum, 2300 Arboretum Dr. E. Seattle, WA 98112.
In addition to blossoming flowers (and plants) please consider a donation the Master Gardeners Foundation of King County: https://mgfkc.org/support-us/donate.