Donna Mae Bauer was born to Andrew and Edith (Lakings) Christensen in Chamberlain, SD, Donna grew up on the family farm in Lyman County and graduated from Chamberlain High School in 1953. She attended the University of South Dakota where she was a member of the Alpha Xi Delta Sorority and where she met James Bauer. They married on February 16, 1957, and made their home in Mitchell, where they raised their four children.
Donna was the consummate homemaker who created a warm, welcoming, loving home not only for her own family but for anyone who walked through the door -- nieces, nephews, neighbors, extended family and friends. She also created a fun home, allowing her children to experience the joy that all of God’s creatures bring. The house was busy not only with friends but a menagerie of pets throughout the years -- dogs, litters of puppies, turtles, baby chicks at Easter time, gerbils, tarantulas and more.
Donna served on the boards of the Abbott House and the Friends of the South Dakota Public Broadcasting. She volunteered for Meals on Wheels for 25 years and served on the board of directors. She was actively involved in the Nature Conservancy and was passionate about caring for and preserving Mother Earth. Also she was also passionate about caring for people in need and always took time to listen to, hold and hug anyone who needed it. She exuded kindness, care and compassion to everyone she met. Donna’s greatest love was her children, grandchildren and family.
After she and Jim retired they moved to Tucson for the winters where she volunteered for the Primavera Foundation and was a mentor in the Reading Seeds Program at Coronado 1st and 2nd grade classrooms. She was also active in St. Phillips Episcopal Church in Tucson and Calvary Cathedral in Sioux Falls when she moved there in 2013. Donna was a volunteer at The Banquet Food Ministry in Sioux Falls.
Donna had an amazing sense of adventure throughout her life. She traveled around the world; she slept in a tent next to roaming buffalo; she rode a mule down the Grand Canyon at age 70 and zip-lined high above the trees in Costa Rica at age 75.
She was also a devoted yoga practitioner and a life-long learner with an open mind and constant thirst for knowledge and understanding. In addition to Christianity, she was interested in Eastern religions and Native American traditions. Some of the books at her bedside included: The Miracles of Mindfulness, Living Buddha Living Christ, Black Elk Speaks and The Holy Bible. She was always reading, always learning, always growing.
She is survived by her children: Brad (Nancy) Bauer; Becky (Bill) Scheig; Curt (DaNette) Bauer; Chrisy Bauer (Joe Schmelz) and grandchildren: Stephanie McGregor (Paul Koiman), Katie (Paul) Spicer, Cami Bauer (fiancé Jesse Jensen), AJ (Sarah) Bauer, Jamie McCarrier (Andy and daughter, Tatum); Michael Bauer, Blake Bauer, Alison Scheig, Dylan Schmelz and Jared Schmelz and numerous nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews, cousins and sisters-in-law.
She is also survived by many grand dogs and great grand dogs: Cocoa, Ginger, Luna, Floyd, Nellie, Simba, Max, Mia, Oatie, Texie, Jersey and Gibson.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her sister, Dorothy Christensen Cadwell, brother, John Christensen, husband, Jim Bauer, and grandson, Andrew Scheig.
Her final words of wisdom for all: “Love, laugh, cry, sing, dance, be kind, be gentle, be compassionate, be good to the Earth, be involved, be (hopefully) registered Democrats. And know that you were not born with a guarantee that life would always be easy…. Sadness stretches the heart so there is more room for joy.”