Cover photo for Donna Rausch's Obituary
Donna Rausch Profile Photo

Donna Rausch

d. April 4, 2014

MADISON - Donna Mae Rausch, age 91, passed away gracefully and peacefully on Friday, April 4, 2014, at Agrace HospiceCare, Fitchburg, with her family by her side. Donna was born in Neenah, Wis., on March 28, 1923, the daughter of LiDonna and Edward Hahn.

In high school, around 1940, Donna met her future husband while working at the Neenah Movie Theater where she was an usher and he, George, played organ during filming intermissions. They fell in love and were married on May 25, 1942. George enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and their journey began.

In 1948, courageous and alone, Donna led her three children, Brian (4), Susan (2), and Darla (5 months), on a 30-day long trip to Japan by ship to join George, post World War II. No pampers, no frills - always a brave and undaunted mother. Other journeys led her family to Tripoli, Libya, Long Island, Ohio, and Madison, where they settled in 1960.

Donna's cup was never half-empty - always half-full. She was an accomplished seamstress and quilter, and a professional bookkeeper. Our home was always decorated with drapes she made, furniture she had reupholstered, handmade quilts, spreads, and holiday decorations she had crafted. How lucky we were.

George died in 1998 and Donna had 10 wonderful years at Oakwood East, where in 2003, the ravages of dementia began to curb her ability to sew, quilt, and live independently. In December, 2011, Donna left Oakwood and lived with Darla until August, 2012. Then, Brian (Sylvia) cared for her in their home until April, 2013, when Susan (Charlie) cared for her in California until her recent return to Madison and a brief stay at Waunakee Manor. During these years, her struggle with dementia was ever-present and ever-increasing, but in her final months, unable to effectively communicate, she still smiled and thanked her children and caregivers. We children were privileged to have had Donna as our Mom. Her whole life's journey was dedicated to helping us with ours.

Donna is survived by her three children, Darla Fiene, Susan (Charlie) Augustitus, and Brian (Sylvia) Rausch; seven grandchildren, Benjamin, Jennifer, Kelly, Jesika, Kyle, Jason, and Laura; five great-grandchildren, Jacob, Zachary, Hannah, Isabelle, and Jonathan; and nephews, Jim (Karen), John (Sue), and Tom (Carey) Rausch, and John and Tom Radtke.

She was predeceased by her parents, three brothers, numerous aunts, uncles, in-laws, and her husband of 57 years, George.

Per Donna's wishes, private interment will occur this summer where George's and her ashes will be buried together in Neenah. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Donna's name to Agrace HospiceCare, Fitchburg; or Dane County Humane Society. Cards and condolences may be sent to Informed Choice who is assisting the family at: Informed Choice, 3325 E. Washington Ave., Madison, WI 53704. Online condolences may be sent to

We three children, her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will remain indebted to the life lessons this amazing and loving woman taught us; to love deeply, make sincere commitments, work hard for success, and find happiness with what we have been given in life. Thank you to all her caregivers and John Rausch who showered Donna with love over the years.
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