Obituary for Donna Pentz Schmidt
Donna Marie Pentz Schmidt died of lung cancer on January 2, 2009 at the Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane, Washington. Donna was born in Sidney, Montana on May 23, 1947, to Donald Pentz and Effie Shaver Pentz. Donna grew up on a farm in the western end of Richland County, 25 miles from the closest town and when roads were still poor (there were many experiences of long walks after cars being stuck in snow or mud, and a much dreaded creek crossing on the 3 mile “driveway” from the road to the house) and telephones and electricity had not yet arrived. Having experienced living in a household without running water and other services she was always happy to pay taxes/rates to have to have easy access to them. At an early age Donna was introduced to school life as her mother was a teacher in one room/all grade schools, first at Grandview and then at Arthur, and while she did not officially begin school until age 5, she was an active participant in school activities prior to that. In 1953 her mother began to teach at Poplar, Montana and Donna continued her education in Poplar through to her graduation in 1964 when she was Class Valedictorian. In addition to her academic achievement she was skilled orator, winning numerous state level awards for her speaking ability, including the Montana American Legion Oratorical Scholarship. Outside of school, Donna was active in 4-H as she spent summer time and many weekends on the farm engaged in work and community activities. Donna’s father was a Richland County Commissioner from 1946-1958, and because of this the family traveled to many places in Montana. In addition, her parents were committed “travelers” and throughout her childhood Donna had the opportunity to travel and experience different places and activities, and meet a range of people. This broadened Donna’s desire and awareness of the potential for her place in the world beyond the farm and small towns of northeastern Montana. However, Donna carried with her the experiences, family support and friendships from those formative years and was always aware, and grateful, that they had provided her with both a framework of expertise and opportunity for the rest of her life. Donna entered the U. of Montana in 1964, and received her degree in History in 1968. During her studies she met Dana Charles Schmidt and married in 1966, and gave birth to Brian Paul Schmidt in 1967.
Donna had a diverse career, teaching high school in Salt Lake City,
before moving to Corvallis Oregon, and working as a research assistant
in the Oregon State Poultry Department. In 1974 Donna and family
returned to Missoula where Donna completed her Master’s degree in speech
communication in 1975 at the U. Montana. From 1975-1979 Donna lived in
Helena, Montana, where she started a consulting company with Cinda Purdy
in speech communication, before moving to Lincoln, Montana in 1980 where
she owned and ran the Blackfoot Market. In 1981, the family moved to
Anchorage, Alaska where Donna worked first for the Anchorage building industry association, before becoming the head of classified advertising at the
Anchorage Daily News. In 1985 Donna moved with Dana to Kodiak Alaska and worked for the local newspaper, the Kodiak Daily Mirror through to 1992. From
1992-1998, living in Kenai Alaska, Donna worked for the Alaska Consumer
Credit Counseling Service, before she and Dana made their move to
Castlegar, British Columbia. In Castelgar, Donna worked for the Bank of
Montreal, before retiring in 2006. In Castlegar, Donna also worked with
several community organizations, helping organize the Rotary Diamond
Dinner several years, and the Duck’s Unlimited annual Banquet in 2006-07.
During their 42 years of marriage, Donna and Dana enjoyed traveling,
undertaking trips around the US and Canada, visiting Australia often to
visit their son and his family, as well as Donna’s brother, and making
trips to exotic locations such as Costa Rica, Mexico, the Carribean, Southern Africa, the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Tahiti, the Galapagos Islands, and last year, South Georgia Island and Patagonia.
Cremation has taken place, and a party will take place in her honor at
3 p.m. Thursday, Jan 8th, at the Element, Castlegar, BC. Her ashes will
be placed at several places important to her, with a marker to be put in
the Pentz family cemetery plot in Grandview, Montana.
Donna is survived by her Husband, Dana Schmidt, Castlegar, British
Columbia; son Brian Schmidt, and grandchildren Kieran and Adrian
Schmidt, all of Sutton, NSW, Australia; brother William Pentz, Poulsbo
Washington; brother Myron Pentz, Geelong, VIC, Australia.
A Memorial Fund has been established in her honor for local efforts to prevent lung cancer. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made in her name to:
Donna Schmidt Lung Cancer Prevention Trust
CIBC World Markets
CIBC Wood Gundy
1300 Cedar Avenue, Trail BC, V1R 4C2
In addition, Donna wanted a scholarship to be developed in her name to support education opportunities for rural women so they could have the same opportunities in life that she had. Please contact her husband Dana if you wish to donate to this fund. It will be established at a later date at the University of Montana where she received her education.