Obituary: Donna J. Henry, 90

On October 12, 2023, Donna J. Henry peacefully decided to go home to Jesus.

Donna was born on May 16, 1933. The only child of Mildred (McQuillen) and Harley Baker, she was born in a small house on Cravath St. in Whitewater, Wisconsin. She lived on the “East Side” and is still friends with many of her childhood friends. Her father owned his own business, as had his father, and her mother’s family was large and mainly farmers. Those family and business values flavored her attitudes and beliefs all of her life. Especially, in how she worked for the people of Whitewater. She was a child of the depression, reflected in her inability to throw anything away, and her generosity to those in need.

Donna graduated from the Whitewater City High School in 1951. She went on to get her bachelor’s degree in journalism from UW Madison. Summers she worked at the Whitewater Register. During her schooling, she realized that the role of a female reporter was to report on fashion and social events. That was not at all to her liking. She changed her specialty to advertising. She graduated in the spring of 1955. Upon graduation she worked at WTMJ in Madison.

In November of 1955, she married J. Philip Henry, whom she met her senior year in college. They lived in Madison, a block off of Randall Stadium, until Phil got a job with American Bitumals. They had a daughter, Jelaine, while in Madison. Phil’s was a job that required moving, and their next home was in Kirkwood, MO, where they had another daughter, Jane. Soon after they were moving to Libertyville, IL, and then on to Mundelein, IL. A son, Mark, was born during those years.

In 1962, life happened. Phil was diagnosed with narcolepsy. He no longer could be employed in a job that required so much travel. He went to Whitewater to learn the ins and outs of a motor vehicle business. With no business or technical training, it was quite an undertaking. Donna stayed in Mundelein with her 3 small children, until she would sell the house. Within a few months, she also was able to move in with her parents. It was a long period of adjustment to a total lifestyle change, medication and health issues, and the role changes inherent in being in a family business.

But, while Donna had left Whitewater for a short time, her love for Whitewater never left her. She threw herself into everything that interested her. While the children were young, she shared her interest in reading, antiques and furniture refinishing, and sewing with her mother. She also knitted, crocheted, and did needle work. She joined numerous organizations and participated in many civic services. She was a Girl Scout leader and on the board, taught Confirmation classes at First English Lutheran and was on the board there, joined the Lions Club with Phil, AAUW and was president for a time, Whitewater Historical Society, Federation of Women, Whitewater Food Pantry, CDA, Rental Association, Planning Commission, City Council, and helped with election days.

Once the kids were older, she also started working part time at Baker’s Garage, summers at the UWW Registrars Office, and for over 35 years at Home Lumber as Accountant/Office Manager. It was during that last job that she “adopted” a 3rd daughter, Jackie Hale.

In everything she did she remembered her roots and to be a voice for citizens who might not always speak for themselves. She was a force for small business. She really lived for these things. As with many older adults, the isolation of the COVID years was hard on her, and the telephone was literally her lifeline. If anyone wanted to perk her up, they just needed to talk about Whitewater. She was a wealth of knowledge that will be missed by many.

Donna was preceded in death by her parents, Mildred (McQuillen)and Harley Baker, in 1980 and 1981, and by her husband J. Philip Henry in 2015.

She is survived by her daughters Jelaine (Jim) Goehl, and Jane Henry (Johnny Soubrand), and her son Mark (Debra) Henry. Also by 9 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

Services will be held on Wednesday November 15, 2023 at 2 PM at First English Lutheran Church in Whitewater. A visitation will be held from 1 PM until the time of the service at the church. Graveside services will be private. A Celebration of Life will follow the service at The Real MacCoys from 3 -6 PM in Cold Springs, WI.

Be prepared to share your stories and remembrances of Donna’s long life. In lieu of flowers or monetary gifts, donations would be appreciated to: Whitewater Food Pantry, Rainbow Hospice or the local Animal Shelter or Humane Society. The family would like to give special thanks to the staff at Rainbow Hospice for their exceptional care for Donna.  The family would also like to give special thanks to all the good friends that came to see Donna. 

Nitardy Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences can be made at

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