Donni Hall was called to the great mystic garden in the sky last Friday, April 9, from the result of a massive hemorrhagic stroke. She was 71 years old. During her final hours at the Billings Clinic Hospital, she was with her devoted husband, Bucky, and loving sons, Matthew and Bryant.
Born Donnitta Faye Calhoun on April 4, 1950, to Roberta “Bert” and Eugene “Gene” Calhoun, in Berkeley, California, Donni Hall was a fifth generation Californian, and her first years were spent in lighthouses along the northern California coast during Gene’s time as a lighthouse keeper in the U.S. Coast Guard. Donni had two younger brothers, Gene and Bobby, and she prided herself on being a wonderful and mischievous big sister.
Donni met the love of her life at Whittier High School when, let the record show, she asked Bucky to a Sadie Hawkins dance. They went to the In-N-Out Burger for their first date and the rest, as they say, is history. After four years of dating, they were married in January 1971. Their love story stretched 54 years. Their marriage was a model for love and devotion, and is the greatest legacy she and Bucky have passed on to their boys.
During their post-high school courtship, Donni attended a vocational school to be a dental assistant, and in 1978, the two moved their budding family to Cody to start Caleco Foundry with Donni’s father. While Bucky and Gene focused on growing Caleco, Donni continued to work as a dental assistant until starting a catering business, Gourmet Everyday, in 2005. In recent years Donni worked at the Thistle where she helped many people find the perfect birthday gift or Christmas present for those they loved.
Donni was an excellent cook and was not afraid to experiment with new recipes and ingredients. In addition to her love of cooking, Donni enjoyed gardening, fine wine and well executed meals. Donni was happiest hosting large gatherings of family and friends and she was especially proud of her multigenerational and multifamily Thanksgiving meals. You knew you were in for a treat if you received an invitation to Donni’s table.
Her family was her priority and beyond hosting meals with four generations seated around the table, she traveled yearly with her sister-in-law Mari Atherton, embarking on adventures such as hiking in Kauai to a remote beach, walking and eating hot dogs on the Coney Island Pier, and collecting sea glass at Fort Bragg.
Donni’s artistic expression went beyond food. Her backyard garden was a masterpiece, and she also was accomplished at expressing herself through painting, drawing and sculpture. Donni found ways to both enjoy and create beauty.
She was an avid reader, a breast cancer survivor, racquetball player, occasional golfer and watcher of romantic comedies. She enjoyed her morning coffee with Matthew or “with the ladies,” and an evening glass of wine with Bucky, friends, and the standing Thirsty Thursday group.
The sister of two brothers and mother of two boys, Donni welcomed her daughters in-law into her family with the most open of arms. She became a grandmother when her granddaughter, Grace, was born, followed by her grandson Tommy. To them, she was their “Nonna,” and no one had a better Nonna in the whole world.
Donni was open-hearted, kind and a wonderful friend to many. She will be dearly missed by everyone who knew her.
Donni was preceded in death by her parents, Eugene and Roberta Calhoun, and her brothers, Eugene and Robert.
She is survived by her husband Thomas “Bucky” Hall, sons Matthew (Jennifer) and Bryant (Vickery), and grandchildren Grace and Thomas.
Her memorial celebration will be held on Saturday, June 12, in her backyard when her flowers are blooming. In the meantime, please plant something beautiful in Donni’s memory and make a toast with a glass of chardonnay.
Condolences to Donni’s family can be sent on her memorial page at www.BallardFH.com.