Donna Broin, 89, of Rochester, MN passed away on Saturday, June 17, 2023.
Donna was born on a farm in rural South Dakota on August 2, 1933 to Emil Rudd and Pauline (Falk) Rudd. Her only sibling, Ruth, was almost 10 years older than her. She spent her early years surrounded by cousins, aunts and uncles, all of whom played an important role in her life. Donna was always proud to say she grew up on a farm where frugality was a way of life; if an ingredient called for in a recipe wasn't available, they found a substitute and made do. Indoor plumbing and central heating did not arrive at their farm until years after Donna went off to college. They lived off the land, and she would earn extra money selling eggs. She was especially close to her father and enjoyed tagging along when he did farm work. She often spoke about how he made a special seat for the grain binder so she could ride along when he harvested grain.
The untimely death of Donna's father, just days before her 11th birthday, had a profound impact on her childhood. With her sister away at college Donna took on added responsibilities so she and her mother could remain on the family farm. At age 11 she learned to drive the family’s old Buick that had a stick-shift transmission; back then no driver’s license was needed in South Dakota.
Donna attended Minnehaha County District 86 rural school through 8th grade, walking to school and often cutting through farm fields to shorten the trek. On a lucky day when the cream man was at their farm to pick up eggs and cream he would let her hitch a ride to school. Later she attended high school in Jasper, MN because she lived just far enough away to be eligible for bus service, which wouldn’t have been an option if she attended Garretson High School as many of her friends and relatives did. Donna loved to play the piano – so much so that while others went to movies on Saturday nights, she went to piano lessons instead. She had a love for jazz music and played the tenor saxophone in high school.
After graduating from high school in 1951, Donna went on to college. She wanted to be a teacher but instead of attending a state university to get her degree she chose to follow in her sister’s footsteps and attend St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. It was during her sophomore year that she met the love of her life, Harris "Spud" Broin. They were married on June 26, 1953, at Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jasper, MN. The first few years of their marriage they lived in Minneapolis, Montevideo and Glenwood before settling in Austin, MN. They were blessed with three daughters, Debra, Susan and Kristin. Spud traveled for work and during the weekdays it was just Donna and her daughters at home. She filled her days being a parent volunteer for the girls’ school and was active in Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.
In 1972 they moved to Rochester, where Donna worked as an office manager for their freight-hauling business, Broin Transfer, Inc. Later she attended classes at Rochester Community College (now RCTC) and then in 1979 started work at St. Mary's Hospital where she held several secretarial positions before retiring in 1994. After retirement she continued as a volunteer at St. Mary’s Hospital in the Outpatient Surgical Messenger Service Department. Retirement allowed Spud and her to have more time with grandchildren, attending many of their music and sporting events. Trips back to South Dakota to see relatives were looked forward to every summer.
Donna and Spud loved to travel abroad. They went to Morocco, the Canary Islands, Germany, Austria and France. Two of her favorite memories were seeing where The Sound of Music was filmed in Austria and riding a camel on their trip to Morocco.
After 50 years of marriage, Donna was widowed in 2004. Her extended family became even more important to her in those later years. She was fortunate to be able to stay in her home until health concerns dictated she needed more assistance. In January 2022 she moved to an assisted living facility and later transitioned to skilled nursing care.
Donna is survived by her three children: Debra Kester of Rochester, MN, Susan Broin of Maplewood, MN, and Kristin Broin-Pierson (Ronald Pierson) of San Dimas, CA; three grandchildren: Shaun Kester (Sarah Kester), Joseph Kester and Anna Pierson; two great-grandchildren: Benjamin Kester and Kira Kester; a cousin, Ellen Doese; six nieces, six nephews and former son-in-law, Bob Kester.
Memorials can be directed to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Youth Mission Trip Fund, where Donna was a member since 1972 and supported the youth who went on mission trips.
Family and friends will gather for a Celebration of Life at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, The Looking Within Center (1212 12th Ave NW in Rochester) on July 22, 2023 at 2 PM.
There will be a private interment at Oakwood Cemetery, Healy Chapel in Rochester, MN.
Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Broin family; to share a special memory or condolence, please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com.