Donna Marie Giese was born July 7, 1917 in Sioux Falls, the second of Otto and Leo (Florance) Wellenstein’s six children. She was a straight-A student through graduation from Washington High in 1935, but the Great Depression and the sudden death of her father prevented her from going to college. While working at a downtown flower shop, Donna became acquainted with Roy Giese, the young manager of the nearby Egyptian Theater. Roy was a regular customer, picking up flowers for the theater box office. They married in August 13, 1940, spent their honeymoon in Yellowstone, WY, and celebrated 53 years of marriage before Roy's death in 1993.
Donna was a person of keen intelligence and broad interests. She was a self-educated life-long learner. She remained deeply curious about the world around her and was an avid reader well into her nineties. She always preferred nonfiction, especially history, to novels. Dementia in her final years robbed her of books but did not keep her from reading the paper every day.
Her talents were as wide ranging as her interests. Intricately patterned quilts were a specialty; she left dozens to charm her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren long into the future. Original cross-stitch art grew out of line drawings which she made with either hand: she was ambidextrous. She was an accomplished seamstress who brought drawers of Vogue patterns to life, not to mention cowgirl outfits and Superman capes made for her children and their friends. She was a charter member of the Mitchell Chapter of the Embroiderers Guild of America.
She dazzled her grandchildren with chains of cut-out paper dolls and art made from piles of antique costume jewelry. She and her friends frequented auctions, buying and then sharing their furniture back and forth for decades. Her easy laugh was infectious, her smile a picture. Her children remember April Fools Days when they couldn't pick up the fork (because a thread held it to the placemat) or cut a pancake (because a piece of cheesecloth had been cooked into it). She delighted in conversation: a new father commented that "she was so interested you'd have thought she never knew anybody else who had a baby."
She had always been such an exceptional baker that her family never knew she really didn't like to cook until she stopped completely in 1993 and began stacking books on the stove. An in-law remarked that watching her make an apple pie was "watching art."
She rode a bicycle long before women cyclists were cool. She loved to tell stories about the Ozark bike trip she and a dear friend took when they were already "white-haired, old ladies." She finally gave up the streets in her seventies and restricted herself to a stationary bike.
Donna was a devout life-long Catholic and a devoted parishioner at Holy Family for nearly seventy-five years. Her charity was the quiet kind, and she declined public recognition even when it was offered.
Donna is survived by her son, Michael (Ann) Giese, Greenville SC; her daughter, Molly McGinty, Rapid City SD; two brothers: Toby Wellenstein, Sioux Falls SD and Forrest (Irene) Wellenstein, Hiawassee AR; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Roy, son-in-law, Frank McGinty, sisters: Delores Klawiter and Betty Ramsay and her brother, Jack Wellenstein.