Donna Jean Hildebrand passed away on January 28, 2022 at the age of 90 ½. She was born in Hutchinson, Kansas July 21, 1931, to the parents of Berneice Louise and Clarence Edwin Campbell. She was their third child, alongside brothers, Barton (Bart) and Robert (Bob). Following the passing of Donna’s father the family moved to Sheraton, IA where she started grade school and then on to Charles City, IA where she continued to flourish in school, and was active in Rainbow Girls, Methodist Youth Group and choir. She attended and graduated Charles City High School in 1949. It was here that she caught the eye of one very determined upper classman, Neal Hildebrand.
A love for music was instilled into her by her mother at an early age. Hymns were key to her upbringing and their words and message brought direction to her life. As a result she had a song in her heart for the Lord, and she could always find a song to fit just about every situation – both non-secular and secular (to which she often thought Frank Sinatra said it best. . . “That’s life”).
After graduation at age 18, Donna packed her bags, hopped a train, and journeyed from small town Iowa to big city Southern California where she attended and graduated from the California Hospital School of Nursing Los Angeles, then worked as a surgical nurse in the operating room at Santa Monica Hospital which she found to be very exciting and fulfilling.
While Donna was working in California, Neal never stopped pursuing her, even from across the world while in the Air Force and stationed in Tokyo, Japan during the Korean War. When Neal discharged and returned state side, Donna was working at a local hospital in Denver, CO. The two agreed to meet for breakfast at a local coffee shop where she said “yes” to his proposal. The two were wed nine days later in Charles City, IA in August of 1954. Neal’s continued pursuit for her heart and devotion grew into a 64 year love story, which now reunited in heaven, will continue forever.
Together Donna and Neal partnered and journeyed through life. Donna became a mother in 1959, giving birth to their first child, Marilyn, and their second daughter Ann, in 1963. The family lived in Southern and Northern California, Alaska and Texas, but it was the bay area that captured their hearts and they truly called home.
Donna’s great joy in life was being a loving wife to her husband, and a devoted mother to her children. She understood the importance of how to order her life – God then family, and the priorities and responsibilities that came with that.
She loved being a mom and gave her time in many ways - outings to Knott’s Berry Farm, the zoo, ice skating followed by hot chocolate and cinnamon graham crackers after school, playing basketball in the driveway, teaching how to play jacks, hopscotch and roller skate – tenderly kissing knees and wiping tears afterwards. She spent hours helping with homework lessons, piano playing and singing, and countless sewing projects. She was a homeroom mom, school librarian, Sunday school teacher, Brownie mom and Girl Scout leader, and assisted with children’s choir.
In her own time she participated in Chevron Wives Club, community Welcome Wagons, and sang in church choirs. She was a student and leader of Bible Study Fellowship, and a leader of Community Bible Study, and enjoyed being a part of small group bible studies - always wanting to go deeper.
She was quiet in spirit, not loud or boisterous. She did not seek accolades or position. She listened quietly, and shared her heart and her experience with others, but always with a pointing back to where her help came from. She did not always have answers, nor did she feel adequate or equipped enough to help. What she did have, was the power of prayer, which she took seriously and used mightily.
The Lord blessed Donna with a long and beautiful life. She knew life came with both joy and sorrow, but it is God’s grace and power that sees us through both of these times. She did not see or consider herself as strong and courageous, or a mover of mountains, at least not on her own. It was only through her seeking and submitting to His will – not hers, and her reliance on the Lord that abled her to be strong and courageous — a fighter to the end.
Donna is survived by her daughters Ann Hildebrand of Spring, TX and Marilyn and son-in-law Greg Fox of Fullerton, CA.
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