Donna Jean Gelder, 77, of Penn Yan, N.Y., passed away on Monday, December 12 at Keuka Comfort Care Home after a brief battle with lung cancer with her loving family by her side.
Donna was born June 14, 1945, in Altoona, Pa., to Jessie Carson and Robert L. Hoffman. She is predeceased by her parents and brother, Robert C. Hoffman.
Donna spent most of her life in and around Dresden and on Seneca Lake. After getting married and following the demanding early years of motherhood, Donna became a school bus driver for PYCSD, driving for 18 years, treating her kids well while also developing a tight camaraderie with her fellow drivers.
Under a sometimes-gruff exterior, she had a big heart. She thrived on making connections, with people and for people. Many friends and acquaintances (but not all!) appreciated that she “told it like it is.” A skilled water skier in her day, she loved summers on the lake. She passed along her love of the water while teaching many neighbors and visiting youths to ski.
In 2012, she donated stem cells to her younger brother Robert as a treatment for his leukemia, helping to extend his life a number of years. In more recent times, alongside her husband, she served as a volunteer at the Dresden United Methodist Church First Aid Closet, supplying medical equipment to those in need. She was also a longtime member of the Penn Yan Moose Club.
She is survived by her husband of 55 years, William V. Gelder; daughter, Amy Gelder of Penn Yan; son, W. Evan Gelder of Rochester; sisters-in-law Sheryl Parkhurst, Laurel (Bill) Skellett, and Susan Hoffman; nieces Caitlin (Brady) Hickcox and Lindsay Hoffman; beloved grand-dog Milo; and many dear friends.
A memorial service honoring Donna’s life was held Saturday, December 17, 2022, at 11 a.m. at Dresden United Methodist Church (60 Cornelia St, Dresden, NY) with a lunch reception following. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Keuka Comfort Care Home, P.O. Box 107, Penn Yan, NY 14527; the Humane Society of Yates County, P.O. Box 12, Penn Yan, NY 14527; or Dresden United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 172, Dresden, NY 14441. Arrangements with Weldon Funeral Home, Penn Yan.