Donna May Chambers, 73, of Superior passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on August 19, 2019.
Donna was born on March 12, 1946 in Missoula, Montana to Lauren and Lillian Christopher the 4th of 7 children. As a young girl she grew up on her family’s ranch outside Arlee, Montana. Later in her youth the Christopher family moved into town to run and live in the Jocko Valley Store. Donna inherited Lauren’s love of ice cream and sweets which she retained throughout life, much to her grandchildren’s delight. The Christopher siblings have remained close uniting for frequent gatherings and Christmas parties. Donna graduated from Arlee High School in 1964 as valedictorian of her class. She continued her studies at the University of Montana where she earned a degree in Education.
On September 17, 1966, she married Gary Chambers in Missoula. In 1969, their son Guy was born while they were living in Terry. In 1971, they welcomed daughter Laurel in Butte where Gary had begun his career with the Fish and Game as a Warden. After Laurel was born they chose the town of Superior Montana and made it their hometown. They built a house with a beautiful river view along the banks of the Clark Fork River at the mouth of Dry Creek to raise their family in. In 1982, the baby of the family Libby arrived. Donna found humor in having her three children born in three different decades. The Chambers family opened their doors to many exchange students and teachers. One of those students, Lutz Paikert, became like a son to Donna and Gary. She always greatly enjoyed his return visits.
Donna’s legacy is her nearly 50 year teaching career which began in Troy, Montana in 1968. By 1972, Donna was teaching in the first school-organized Kindergarten program in Superior. She had a knack for knowing how to make each child feel special. She also always noticed and quietly helped children who needed a little extra love and assistance. Donna ‘officially’ retired from teaching in 2006 but by fall continued to serve as a volunteer teacher/mentor at the school and was integral in the creation of the district’s preschool program. She re-retired in 2014, but continued to volunteer and work at the school and then retired yet again in 2016. After her 3rd or maybe 4th retirement from the Superior School District she worked for the State of Montana for her niece Jill, whom she has always adored. This work was extremely fulfilling for Donna as it included both her love of preschool and mentoring teachers.
Donna loved to travel and went on numerous vacations with family and friends. She had an adventurous spirit preferring educational travel opportunities to leisure vacations and bunking in dormitories with other teachers over 5 star accomodations. Her favorite excursions were with the National Geographic Alliance of which she had been a member since 1994. Her travels took her across the globe including a summer spent teaching in Australia. Everywhere Donna traveled she turned strangers into friends.
Donna found great enjoyment in nature. She loved hiking, cross country skiing, gardening, birdwatching, tending her raspberry patch, huckleberry picking, hummingbirds, daffodils and finding the spring’s first buttercup. She also loved live theater and never missed attending opening weekend at MCT with her friends and sister Allison. Donna was a member of the local Quilt Guild, and pinochle and bridge clubs. Donna cherished her all friends and enjoyed just visiting over a cup of tea or craft project. Donna once told her children she hoped they had a career that they enjoyed as much as she did teaching, but we hope we craft a circle of friends as wonderful as hers.
Donna’s biggest joy and delight in life came from being a Grandma. Her grandchildren would all say she was the best Grandma ever. All Donna’s friends and family would agree. She was their biggest champion and fan attending every event possible. She loved watching them participate and to her they were always the star no matter their performance or final score. She was always up for a sleepover, tea party on the fancy china, reading a story, playing a game, going to the river, or going on an adventure with them. The word ‘no’ didn’t have much of a place in Grandma Donna’s house. She always had a story about her grandkids and pictures to share.
Donna is survived by her husband Gary; son Guy Chambers and his children Dakotta, Sawyer, and Dawson; daughter Laurel (Darin) Haskins and their children Danner and Darby; daughter Libby (Jake) Newman and their children Charlotte, Elaina and Arthur; sisters: Faye (Chuck) Gibson and Allison Christopher; brothers: Roy, Roger (Elizabeth), and Rick (LuAnn) Christopher; and numerous nieces and nephews
Donna was preceded in death by parents, Lauren and Lillian Christopher and brother George Christopher.
The Chambers family would like to express our gratitude to our friends and the Superior community. Thank you for all the love, support, phone calls, meals, huckleberry milkshakes, visits, and assistance with craft and quilting projects during Donna’s last weeks. You brought the world to her and it means the world to us. Special thanks to the hospice staff with Partner’s in Home care. Because of your care Donna was able to spend her final time with her children and grandkids at home enjoying her beautiful river view.
Memorial Services are scheduled at 11 a.m. on September 2nd in the Superior High School Gym with a luncheon to follow.
Donations may be made to the Donna Chambers Memorial Fund at Trails West Bank - for the direct benefit of teachers and underprivileged students in the community.