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DONNA MARIE FOGG
December 6, 1939 - October 11, 2023
Donna, with her boundless enthusiasm, compassion, and zest for life, was full of surprises. She was both a creative person and an adventurer who was constantly fascinated by learning about architecture, art and antiques, history, different cultures, medical procedures and the wonders of the natural world. Whether she was travelling through Europe on her honeymoon, meeting new immigrants in Canada, or going to the dentist, she drew people towards her and turned strangers into lifelong friends. She made everyone she met feel welcome and loved through her thoughtful and generous nature. And she documented all of it with her old taped-up Canon AE-1 slung around her neck.
Donna was spirited and independent. She met her husband Gord on a blind date while he was on Air Force training in Winnipeg. It didn’t take him long to figure out he couldn’t live without her feisty nature. They got engaged and she moved to an apartment in Kingston, working in medical records at Kingston General Hospital, while he finished Royal Military College. After they married and moved to Prince Edward Island, she was up at 3am frying pierogies for Gord before he flew out on the Argus for submarine patrol and before she went to work at the Summerside General Hospital. Donna, who once ended up crawling (pregnant) through a dangerous snowstorm to get home and who helped a farmer and his cow deliver a breech calf, was undaunted by most things.
As one friend said, Donna was a woman of character. The eldest daughter of working-class Polish-Ukrainian Canadians, she was resourceful in a way that made her an early environmentalist. While raising five children with Gord, she saved money by managing two massive vegetable gardens. She spent summers planting and picking, canning and preserving food to help get through long winters on Georgian Bay. Neighbours were astounded by her work ethic and didn’t understand why she would go to the trouble of composting, or washing and reusing plastic bags when she could just throw them out.
During those years, even though Donna was up late sewing clothes for her children, helping Gord renovate their old Victorian house or working in the family insulation business, baking bread or making borscht, she still squeezed in time for fun. She was always up for a walk or cross-country ski and she was the only person we knew who broke into a fit of laughter whenever her skis broke through the ice of her favourite local creek and she fell in. She would be giggling so much, she set the rest of us off so that we could barely help her out.
As her children left home, Donna reclaimed her independence and, rather than slow down, she saved money for travelling. She was up for any experience and found beauty everywhere. In Egypt she climbed to the top of a pyramid and in Portugal she zoomed down the Monte wicker toboggan sledge ride. She and her octogenarian mother are possibly the only people to have successfully run across the speeding roundabout at l’Arc de triomphe in Paris. She travelled to 32 countries including Tunisia, Russia, Australia and China. Her favourite country was Norway but really, she was most in love with the last country she visited. Everywhere she travelled she thought of family and friends and brought back special gifts for each person.
When she wasn’t travelling, she was going to the ballet, a museum or gallery with her sisters, her brother or her childhood friends, the Alfred Avenue Girls. She found everything exciting whether it was walking among the first Chinese Emperor’s Terracotta Army or attending a two-year old’s ballet recital. She remained a voracious reader and a passionate gardener, growing beautiful flowers as well as vegetables. She could identify most plants in Canada and made an effort to learn the names of new flora she discovered while travelling. Donna’s garden, like herself, was welcoming and accepting of all. What others called a weed, she saw as a contributor to the ecosystem: “Don’t pull out the dandelions,” she said. “They’re good for bees.” Every autumn she brought two ladybugs inside to live on the plant in her kitchen window throughout the winter and then she’d release them into the warmth of late spring.
Donna didn’t talk openly about her emotions; she showed people how much she loved them. She was a perfectionist who paid great attention to detail and held herself up to the most stringent standards. She was modest, forthright, honest and, yes, stubborn. To quote one grandchild: “She knew what she wanted.” She consistently put others ahead of herself. She was the first to send flowers or cards to cheer people up. She spent hours wrapping gifts—that became works of art in themselves—while singing along to Nana Mouskouri or Andre Rieu. She wrote lengthy letters to family and friends around the world, telling us what she learned on her adventures and making everyone feel included. She worked tirelessly cooking and decorating to make occasions special for the people she loved and she marked every graduation, every milestone for her children, her grandchildren and her nieces and nephews and godchildren with flowers and special notes. Her love language was a warm-hearted generosity that expected nothing in return.
It may sound like Donna’s life was easy. It wasn’t. Like most women of her generation, she didn’t have the opportunities she would have loved. She was never able to finish secondary school or to pursue her dream of becoming an architect. When she tried to open her first bank account in 1961, the bank manager refused saying she needed her husband’s permission. Her third child Russ died at age 16 and her youngest brother Roy also died by suicide in 2016. Despite these losses and other hardships, Donna maintained her enthusiasm for life and her belief in people. Rather than spend money on herself, she donated to her favourite charities.
Donna was a creator of so much beauty and goodness in our lives. We will try to see the world as she did, to revel in its mysteries, and to live and love with her generosity of spirit.
Donna is greatly missed and loved by her husband Gord, their children and partners, and grandchildren Illya, Enoria, Dorian, Elsa, Aria, and grand-dog Alfred.
In lieu of flowers, please continue Donna’s support of her 20 or so favourite charities. You can donate using a link (or phone number) below in honour of Donna Fogg.
Phone: 1 844 376 4530
Phone: 1 800 767 5111
Phone: 1 866 953 5437
“To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.” Colette
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