In memory of Donna Duke 1935-2021
Donna Lee Snyder Duke died at age 86 on July 22, 2021, at Deerfield Assisted Living in Boone, NC. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Donna was raised by her mother Margaret, a fiercely independent woman, and her Aunt Stella, Donna's beloved role model in community activism. During her childhood, Donna and her mother moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. She later earned a bachelor's in history from UNC-Greensboro and a master's in history from UNC-Chapel Hill. She worked for a year in Germany and spent another as a graduate exchange student in Denmark. She and then husband Dan lived for six years in Bozeman, Montana, before they moved to Boone, where she earned another master's in geography and an Ed.S. in education from Appalachian State. In a small town with limited career options, Donna tried her hand at various jobs, including working for Elder Hostel, a brief stint in real estate, and many years for H & R Block. She was a regular for the water aerobics class with Watauga County Recreation, made music with the Bluebirds Recorder Group, and sometimes got work done within the UFO (UnFinished Objects) crafting group.
Donna is best remembered for her conviction that citizenship carries with it the responsibility to engage in her community and to be an active participant in the democratic process. This translated into 40 years of active involvement in the League of Women Voters, 20 years as a Girl Scout volunteer, ten years on the Watauga County Planning Board, 25 years as volunteer weaving teacher at the Watauga Senior Center, and over 40 years of community service with St. Luke's Episcopal Church. A 2016 Hall of Fame inductee in honor of her activism for the Watauga Dems, Donna put in countless hours for political and environmental action all the way back to the 1977 Region D Council lawsuit, which was grounded in this premise, found in her archives: "We believe strongly that the central question is control of government by the citizens through elected representation that is accountable to the citizenry." Her lifetime of engagement epitomizes how and why citizens can hold their representatives accountable. Donna was known as a persistent questioner of why things were the way they were, and why they weren't better.
Donna is survived by her son Miles Duke, daughter-in-law Cynthia, grandchildren Elizabeth and Alexandra of Atlanta; daughter Cama Duke, son-in-law Frank, grandchildren Maggie, Annie, and Joey of Boone; brother Graham Snyder, sister-in-law Liz, niece Renate of Portsmouth, OH; and friend/former husband of 37 years Dan Duke and his wife Susan of Vilas.
A celebration of life will take place at a later time. Memorial gifts may be made to the League of Women Voters www.lwv.org.
Online condolences may be shared with the Duke family at the website www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com.
Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Duke family.