Donna Marie Decker Sullivan was born September 24, 1946 in Durango Colorado to Austin & Vera Nagle Decker. Donna was the only daughter with 5 brothers. Billey who died as an infant, Dennis, John, Kennon & Jaye. Donna was raised in the Durango area her entire life. She spent winters at Cox Canyon and summers up the Florida River until her family moved into Durango in 1950.
While growing up in Durango, Donna had the privilege of checking herself out of school at Mason Elementary and deciding to go to Orr School on the Mesa. Her family was moving to the Mesa but Donna had decided she didn’t want to wait any longer to go. She also had the privilege of being “kicked” out of the 3rd grade and moved to school with the older kids. She never would tell the entire story because she didn’t want to give the younger generations any ideas. Donna Graduated in 1964 from Durango High School. She attended college at Adams State.
Donna had to be tough being the only girl with 4 brothers. There are many stories of tying brothers on steers, or tying them in wagons so they wouldn’t jump out, when they were pushed down the hill. Another story of her was entering match horse races (out of the gates in stock saddles) when she had been explicitly told no by her father. There was also the time when she ran to the house telling her mother “I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it” when her younger brother Kennon got run over by the bucks in the sheep pasture. Donna and her husband Chuck met in 1954 as young kids. They were “friends” all the time growing up and later married in 1970 in Durango. They spent 48 years together and when Chuck passed Donna stated “part of her heart left when he left”.
Donna had one daughter Dana, a son-in-law Tim and her pride Charleigh Dawn. Donna many times apologized to Dana because Charleigh was so much like herself. Donna never missed basketball games, dance recitals, rodeos, calf shows or any activities Charleigh was involved in. Charleigh was Donna’s pride and joy. When they talked on the phone the conversations always ended with “I love you to the moon and back”
Donna worked from 1980-2002 for the County Court in Montezuma County, when she retired she never looked back. She loved her time at the courts but retirement gave her the time to spend with family.
She always enjoyed riding and working cattle with her family. You could count on Donna to organize her family and get them to Team Pennings and Sortings. She was known to even make them practice in snow storms. She would type up all the teams and make sure all entries were entered. Once she was worried her horse wasn’t fast enough so Kennon and Johnny convinced her they had given the horse some “go, go” juice. She came out of the arena saying “Did you see how fast he was”, penning truly put a smile on her face. Her biggest grin was the day she got to Pen at Cheyenne Frontier Days. The picture was hung up on the wall as soon as she returned home.
Donna helped and volunteered around her community. She was active with Spring Creek Hall and helped with 4-H and was always willing to help friends in need. She was famous for apple pies, Texas sheet cake and her fudge.
Donna was a blessed woman she had her strong belief in Jesus Christ and the love of family and friends. She felt these were things that blessed her. Donna is in a very good place back with her true love Chuck. She is able to see again and feel no more pain and suffering.
Donna always said “You can always slow a horse down but you can’t make them faster,” so ride fast horses and live life to fullest. Love your family to the moon and back.