Dona Hanson, 67, Mandan, died August 21, 2023, at a Bismarck hospital.
Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10:30 AM on Monday, August 28, 2023, at Christ the King Catholic Church, Mandan, with Fr. Fred Harvey celebrating. Burial will be at Mandan Union Cemetery.
Visitation will be held from 2-4 PM on Sunday, August 27, 2023, at Weigel Funeral Home, Mandan, with a Parish Vigil at 4 PM. Visitation will continue one hour prior to the service at the church on Monday.
Dona was born to Ralph and Diane (Fleck) Beckler on April 16, 1956, in Mandan. She was baptized and confirmed at her home church of Christ the King. In 1974, Dona graduated from Mandan High School and then attended college at the University of Mary, earning a bachelor’s degree in social work upon her graduation in 1978. She went back to school at the University of Mary in the early 1990s, earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1993.
During her first course of study at the University of Mary, Dona was involved in the dance team until an injury sidelined her and ended her dance career. By happy circumstance, Dona was also the statistician for Coach Bortke and the Marauder men’s basketball team. One of the offer letters she composed and sent out ended up being received in Wisconsin by the eventual love of her life, Dave Hanson. They developed their relationship in college and were married at Christ the King shortly after Dona’s graduation. They were blessed to welcome a son, Erik, on January 24, 1980, and a daughter, Megan, on October 12, 1983.
In late 1993/early 1994, four months into Dona’s new teaching career, doctors found a tumor growing on her brain stem which required immediate attention. The recovery timeframe was projected to be a six-month hospital stay, followed by full recovery in approximately a year. Due to complications in recovery the hospital stay lasted the better part of a year and Dona never recovered from the operation.
Despite being unable to care for her basic needs, Dona was able to remain living in their home due to the sacrifices Dave made to be her primary caregiver while also working full-time. Her struggles were many as the past 30 years went on, but Dona found joy in many little moments in life.
Prior to her operation, Dona loved taking long walks, gardening, and reading. After, she continued to enjoy watching her garden come up, continued to read as able, and found even more hobbies she enjoyed. Dona enjoyed watching puzzle and game shows, never hesitating to offer her opinion on what the contestants should be doing. Over the years she even relented and developed a love of sports, particularly of the Chicago Cubs and Green Bay Packers, and enjoyed watching these teams compete any time they were televised.
Dona’s love for her grandchildren was the hallmark of the last 18 years of her life. Gabriel (17), Miles (13), Charlotte (7), and Henry (3) all loved to visit grandma and when they were small would climb up the wheels of her chair to give her hugs. Dona absolutely adored these four, and this was most evident at Christmastime and birthdays; Dona found immense joy in using her adaptive computer program to shop for the absolute perfect gifts for her family. It brought her such happiness to watch these gifts be excitedly opened, and the grandchildren were never short on new clothing and fun toys to play with. For this holiday season Dona was eagerly anticipating the gift of her fifth grandchild; Baby Schaff is expected to arrive on Christmas Eve this year.
A hidden blessing was that Dona’s struggle taught her grandchildren to see past limitation and to accept others of all abilities. During the pandemic Dona was able to again become the teacher she had trained to be, instructing Charlotte during her second year of preschool when she was unable to attend physically. Both Dona and Charlotte loved to reminisce about “Grandma School” and the special time they were able to spend together.
Dona’s Catholic faith grew even stronger during her time of poor health. She was a true prayer warrior and soldier for God, praying deeply for her family members and most especially for her grandchildren. Dona’s faith did not waver and her prayers for those she loved were felt deeply. Her family has no doubt that Dona was welcomed warmly into Jesus’s arms, as her struggles on this Earth were many.
Dona is survived by her mother, Diane Beckler; husband, David Hanson; son, Erik (Kimberly) Hanson; daughter, Megan (Clayton) Schaff; grandchildren, Gabriel, Miles, and Charlotte Hanson and Henry and new baby Schaff; sister, Jane (Duane) Leingang; brother, Daniel Beckler; sisters-in-law, Janna Stamstad and Debra (Ryan) Lee; brother-in-law, Michael (Marianne) Hanson; and many nieces and nephews.
Dona was preceded in death by her father, Ralph Beckler and father-and mother-in-law, Kenneth and Alma Hanson.