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Donna Jean Gerwin
Ott

December 5, 1949 – January 6, 2019

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Donna Jean Ott
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Obituary for Donna Jean Gerwin Ott

A beautiful, courageous soul has slipped her earthly bonds and ascended to Heaven to join her loved ones who have gone before her. She was a collector of angels; and now she is one in God's collection!

Following surgery on December 13th, she never recovered and spent the last three weeks of her life in Renown's ICU, where she received a steady parade of caring visitors who all admired and truly loved her. One of them compared her to that one special, chocolate candy Necco in a roll that everyone wants to eat first! She was a loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, and dear friend we will cherish forever in our hearts.

Donna Jean Gerwin born on December 5th, 1949 in Reno's old Washoe Medical Center (now, ironically, Renown, and her last place of residence) to Caroline and Milton Gerwin. She was their third daughter, and at 2 years of age, fell prey to that horrible disease, Polio, which has since been eradicated. She luckily survived and went on to live a full and happy life; but not without the disabilities that cruelly enslaved its victims. Despite that, as a child growing up on Sonora Drive in old Southwest Reno, she could be seen roller skating, riding her bike, limping gamely in her current cast with her sisters and the Cooke girls from the neighborhood! We never thought of her as "disabled", only as our sister and friend, even as she endured countless surgeries and hospital stays to ameliorate the ravages of that cruel disease. In her early 30's, she spent three months at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto following a Harrington Rod surgery which helped straighten her backbone giving her a few more precious inches of height (a bit over 5 feet), which she cherished!

Graduating from Reno High in 1967, she enrolled at UNR and joined Delta Delta Delta Sorority, where she was honored as outstanding Pledge that year. She was a proud member of Sagens in her Senior year, an Honor Society at UNR. Upon graduation from UNR in 1971, she went to work in 1972 for the prestigious law firm of McDonald, Carano, Wilson, Bergin, and Bible and worked there as Leo Bergin's secretary and in other responsible capacities until her retirement in 2010. Twice over those years she was honored as their "Outstanding Woman" of the year, the last time being 2004.

Donna married Gary Ott in April 1985. They were married for almost 30 years and she became an instant and subsequently inspirational mother to his child, Nicole (now Nic). Upon her retirement, she and Gary moved to his home state of Montana for 5 years, where he died in 2015. Donna moved back to her life-long home of Reno in 2015 to rejoin her family and many old friends.

A true “Luddite” to the end, a flip phone was her only concession to technology. She loved her music, reading, and chortling at Janet Evanovich’s books, and was a fan of “Jeopardy” (and Alex Trebek!) and tried not to miss even a rerun of the show! Books were her friends and she read voraciously (and not on a Kindle).

She is survived by her sisters, Karen (Chuck) Sass and Tina (Christopher) Walberg; her son, Nicolai (Shanna) Ott; her grandchildren, Cade, McKaylynn, Cee Cee, and Ryen Ott; her beloved niece, Melissa (Art) Marr; nephew, Justin Hanson; brother-in-law, Michael Hill; and two nephews, Andy and Dan Hill. She was preceded by her parents, Milt and Carol Gerwin, and her sister, Diane Hill.

Despite her many physical challenges, Donna lived with style, grace, and humor. Many happy times were spent over the years with her raising a glass of wine in witty repartee. We all marveled at her strong spirit, patience of Job, spunk, and sassiness! Rest well our dear, little Donna; you lived with such class.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Saint John’s Presbyterian Church on Plumb Lane on Sunday, January 20th, at 2:00pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to your local PBS Station because she enjoyed watching it, especially “Downtown Abbey”.

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Service Information

A Celebration of Life will be held at Saint John’s Presbyterian Church on Plumb Lane on Sunday, January 20th, at 2:00pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to your local PBS Station because she enjoyed watching it, especially “Downtown Abbey”.