Obituary of Donna Lou Van Vliet
On April 16, 2023, this world lost the most incredible woman to have ever graced this planet. Our family is moved by the outpouring of love, and I know my mother and father are smiling down upon us knowing how loved and supported our families are.
Donna Lou Pinkerton was born January 13, 1949, in Riverside California, to proud parents, Arlene Margaret Norton and Robert Allen Pinkerton. They already had one little girl, Marsha Ann, who would become my mother’s most trusted confidante and best friend until the end of her life. Their lives were marked by tragedy from a very young age, losing their own mother to ovarian cancer in 1952. They only had each other to rely on for many years from then on until their beloved grandmother, Blanche, took them in. And thank God she did, because she was a helluva woman. She was born in 1903 yet was able to provide them with stability and a loving home.
My mother’s school friends described her as strong-willed and outgoing as a child. Surprising, huh? My mother’s work ethic was unmatched. She graduated six months early from Corona High School in January of 1967, just so she could join the work force. Right after high school she was the front-desk girl at the Dessert Inn in Las Vegas. And if you know anything about my mother, this won’t come as any surprise, but she recently admitted to a federal crime, that she used to go through Howard Hughes’ mail. She also worked many jobs in retail over the years, but her most memorable job, other than being a dairyman, was while working in administration at an elderly psych ward, Beverly Manor, in Riverside, California in the ‘70s. She had to visit many mental health facilities in the surrounding area, and I thoroughly believe that what she saw over those years is, honest to God, what prepared her for a life on the dairy.
During those years is when she met my father, Marion Red Van Vliet, a hay truck hauler from Chino, California, at a bar and, boy, did sparks fly. In November of 1978 they eloped to Reno, Nevada, while building their dairy. While adapting to her new life as a hardworking dairyman, she and my father started their family immediately with their first daughter Audra Ann, and followed soon after with their son, Allen Hugo. To give you an understanding of how hard my parents worked, we never took one family vacation over the 28 years they operated the dairy. We worked hard, we fought hard, but we loved hard. Life on a dairy is hard.
My mother was so many things to so many people. And yet she found time to spoil her own children, her grandchildren, her many nieces and nephews, friends and family throughout her entire life. She was never too busy for anyone, put everyone else first, and that is just who she was. With my mother, mi casa is su casa. She was a social butterfly and loved visiting her grandmother and sister in California over the years. At the end of those trips, she would magically find herself in Las Vegas. And when she returned from those trips, she would swear us to secrecy about her latest piece of jewelry. After my father died in 2006, our family really stepped in and checked on my mother over the years, and my brother and I are so grateful.
In her twilight, she enjoyed spending time at the pool house entertaining family and friends, visiting her sister in California, going on trips to New York with Aunt Joan, visiting Kurt and Cindy Wiersma, and organizing a ladies’ night once a month with the women in our family for a decade.
Since late 2017 my mother, A WARRIOR, battled and beat cancer FOUR TIMES. I want family and friends to know that we take comfort in the fact she is finally at rest and no longer in pain. She would want our families to move forward with the knowledge she could finally be at peace and the fact that she lived her life, on her terms, no matter what. She was independent until the end, and she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Donna is survived by her sister, Marsha Blanton, daughter, Audra Van Vliet, son, Allen Van Vliet, Audra’s partner, Judd Tweten, and Allen’s wife, Laura Zimmerman Van Vliet, and her four grandchildren, Drew, Troy, Tugg, and Hailey.
To put it bluntly, if I had to sum my mom up, I would say she was worldly, intelligent, funny, and loving. There will never be another Donna Van Vliet. She was a legend.
Donna's family would like to thank St. Luke's Cancer Institute in Nampa and the doctors and nurses that have worked with Donna over the years. We would also like to thank the nurses and doctor that were with Donna during her final moments at St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center, especially Moriah.
Funeral services will be held on April 26, 2023, at 11:00 am at Flahiff Funeral Chapel, 624 Cleveland Blvd, Caldwell, Idaho, 83605 with a funeral procession led by police escort to Wilder, Idaho, 20431 Batt Corner Road, Wilder, Idaho, 83676, to join her husband in rest. Reception to be announced.
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