THOMPSON, Elaine Ellen, 92 (Elaine Donald) of Alpena died on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020 at her home. Born to Harriet (Graham) and John Thompson in Alpena Feb. 4, 1928. Married Robert Donald May 24, 1947.
Elaine was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved daughter Judith Donald-Simons Dec 26, 2004 and former husband Robert Marshall Donald Dec 13, 2007, her dear sister-in-law Jacqueline Donald Hahn, dear mother-in-law Myrtle Nevin Donald.
Survived by daughters Esther Donald-Briggs (John Briggs) of Alpena, Rebecca Donald of Grand Rapids; sons A.D. Donald (Barbara Katz) of Plano, Texas, Jac Donald (Joanne Shea Donald) of Winter Park, Colorado, Son-in-law Loren Simons (Lorraine). Grandchildren: Matthew Donald (Kristen Nauss), Jason Donald (Kristin), James Donald (Candace), Lauren Baker Blanford (Jason), Julian Baker.
Great Grandchildren: Christian, Adrianna & Amelia Donald, Lucinda & Oren Sisson, Lexi & Lewis Donald, Fiona & Asa Blanford. Brother: Jack Thompson of Rogers City.
Elaine graduated from Alpena High School in 1945. Years later with 5 children in the household Elaine began her lifelong love affair with education starting with an associates degree from Alpena Community College in 1964, earning a B.A. from Michigan State University, a master’s degree in elementary education from Central Michigan University and a teaching certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Michigan. In her 70's she earned another bachelors degree in Family Life Education from Spring Arbor University.
As an educator she taught fifth grade at Sunset Elementary for many years and was a reading specialist for area schools, retiring from Alpena Public Schools in 1989. She knew reading was fundamental. During summers she traveled extensively including touring Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kashmir, Japan and South America as well as exploring the Galapagos Islands. In 1980-81 Elaine took a leave of absence from her job to live and work in Sapporo, Japan teaching English to Japanese students. In 1992, after retirement she accepted a position teaching fifth grade in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Island of Sakhalin, Russia. Not long after arriving the collapse of the Soviet Union necessitated an abrupt departure as political winds shifted & food & medicine became scarce.
Music was an important part of her life. She had a beautiful voice and ability to harmonize. She played the French horn in the Civic Orchestra and was a member of the ACC Collegiate Singers. In the 1950's Elaine would bring her children to Pierce Nursing Home (now known as MediLodge of Greenview) to play the piano for the residents. In these past decades playing the piano for nursing home residents has included what she began in those early visits – knowing the names of the residents and a bit of their life stories. Taking up the ukulele most recently, she was an active member of the Alpena Ukesters, a musical group for retirees that met once a week to practice songs popular in the season.
Elaine participated in a wide range of community service and activities including: tutoring in the READ program Alpena Public Library, State of Michigan nursing home ombudsman, tutoring well into her 80's. She was member of the Building Bridges for Better Understanding study group at First Congregational United Church of Christ, Life Long Learners at ACC.
Elaine was politically active, a member of the ACLU, Freedom from Religion Foundation and American Union for Separation of Church and State and yet had a deep understanding of the Bible, Judaism, and the Baha'i Faith. She was feisty, intelligent, cynical, astute, equally rebellious and compassionate. Unafraid of dissent she was known for her strong opinions. She saw herself as a world citizen and endeavored to ensure equality for all which meant rooting for the underdog. She was dedicated to her students, the scientific method, deductive reasoning, honoring the elderly, caring for animals, women's rights and social justice.
Special thanks to Donna Denmark for nighttime care taking in the last weeks. A debt of gratitude to our sister Esther for her tender and steadfast dedication to our mother's care and ensuring her participation in her many activities all these years.
Memorial visitation will take place Monday, May 3, 2021 at Bannan Funeral Home from 2 p.m. until the Family Sharing at 7 p.m.
Memorial donations may be made to the Elaine Thompson Donald Scholarship Fund at the Alpena Community College Foundation.