A life well lived
Donna June Rothrock, of Nashville, Tennessee, died on her birthday, November 5, 2020. She was 74 years of age. The third child of Harry Charles Smith and Edith Pauline Mitchell. She is survived by two brothers Paul and Tommy Lynn, a daughter Dai Kristina McWhorter, husband Lawrence Rothrock and two grandsons, Connor Madden McWhorter, and Camden Bodie James McWhorter. Though born in St. Louis, MO and considered a midwest gal, she never let that typecast her. Her father was a camp director for the YMCA and the family spent many outings in the Colorado Rockies. She converted to Catholicism from her parent’s Methodist faith even though this troubled her grandparents deeply.
She became an excellent athlete, particularly in swimming, and was always up for a challenge. Later, she moved to Alton, IL where her mother’s sister lived so she could attend college at Southern Illinois University. It was in school there that she met Larry, who had just been separated from the Navy overseas and working on finishing college on the GI Bill. He eventually became the first love of her life. They were married in 1970 at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Belleville, il in 1970. Their daughter, Dai, the other love of her life, was born in 1972, and later received her DVM and is a practicing vet in Texas.
As working in the bursar’s office at SIU and doing university travel for staff and faculty there. The travel “bug” bit her hard, and she never lost her desire to see as much of the world and its people as possible. Larry, having visited several far eastern countries, never had to be convinced that travel was exciting and broadening. The two made a pact that they would take their retirement in installments beginning with traveling as much as possible whenever time and money would allow to as many places and countries as they could cram into one lifetime. Upon Larry’s graduation, they moved to Nashville and bought their first house less than a block from Christ the King Church.
Donna with her experience, eventually began working for American Express. She eventually became the first manager of their new Las Colinas Texas office near Dallas.
Between the two of them, they visited some 30 countries, including places in Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Canada, a good part of Europe, including the Vatican, the parts of the former USSR, Turkey, a Nile cruise in Egypt, Singapore and Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, Iceland and all fifty U.S. States but three.
The time spent travelling and working provided little time for Donna to accumulate college credits but she was persuaded to adopt a university without walls plan and was able to obtain her BS degree in History from the University of the state of New York in 1994. She always was a reader and was distrusting of anyone who was not.
Donna was always a believer in racial equality and possessed a raging social conscience as well. Always against war, she joined the NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Urban League. Her parents originally tried to dissuade her from civil rights marches as they felt the danger was too high in the 1960s, though they never stopped her.
Donna was a liberal and had a progressive outlook on almost everything. She cheered when Obama became president and attended his inauguration in the January cold. She also attended the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in a rented wheelchair because of her arthritis. She was a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat as were both of her grandfathers; one of whom was a coalminer. She not only talked the talk but walked it too.
She is dearly missed by all who knew her.
A Graveside Service for Donna will be held Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery conducted by Fr. Robert Zwilling.
Condolences may be made online at www.short-cunninghamfh.com
Short-Cunningham Funeral Home is honored to serve the Rothrock family.
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