RAPID CITY | Dona Ruth was born to Gordon and Margaret Bartell on June 17, 1930, in Hot Springs, the oldest of four daughters. On Nov. 19, 2018, she died in Rapid City after a brief illness.
After graduating from New Underwood High School, Dona married her high school sweetheart, Charles Boydston, and they lived on the family farm north of New Underwood with their four children: Judy (Dryden), Barbara (Matthiesen), Dale Boydston and Peggy Boydston.
Dona and Charles took their four children to Yellowstone National Park and California during the 13 years they were married, and traveled to Washington, D.C. and New York City as a couple. Dona served stints as a census taker and insurance representative, but higher education and a career were still her dreams.
Dona became a secretary in Rapid City when Charles and Dona were divorced in 1961. Her second son Randy was born in 1963 to her and new husband Everett Ross, and they moved frequently for his work as a civil engineer. Finally, when she lived in Greeley, CO, and was in her forties, Dona was able to attend college in earnest. She sailed through junior college, undergraduate school and her master’s degree in three years and nine months.
She worked in education as a speech and hearing specialist, special education director, and principal for the next three decades, primarily with the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and the Tsimshian Native Tribe in Metlakatla, Alaska.
During her Alaska years, Dona became a grandmother to Nathan, Neal, Sky (Nicholas) and Noah Boydston; Derek and Ashley Thirstrup; Jacob Boydston; and Connor, Savannah and Ian Ross. After Dona retired in Rapid City, she became a great-grandmother to Serai and Talia Avraham.
During her retirement years she continued to advocate for her favorite causes, including Native American and women’s rights and animal welfare. She carried picket signs with her granddaughter Ashley. She was able to see the world, taking educational trips to western Europe and China with her daughters. She traveled to Ireland and Scotland to explore her family’s roots, and she and Peggy made frequent trips back and forth to Alaska, sometimes with Dona driving a motor home. Sister Sue and her husband Lavern treated Dona and Sandra to a cruise through the Panama Canal, and son Dale and Karen hosted her in Arizona. Somehow, she always kept track of the whereabouts and well-being of all members of her sizable family.
Dona’s legacy will live on in the people she has helped throughout her life. In spite of a number of challenges along the way, she fulfilled many of her dreams while remaining young at heart.
A Celebration of her Life will be at 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, at Kirk Funeral Home.