Donna Vonder Haar, 85, Little Falls
May 15, 1935 - August 29, 2020
Donna Vonder Haar, 85-year-old resident of Little Falls passed away Saturday, August 29 at St. Otto’s Care Center in Little Falls. A Memorial Mass will be held on Thursday, September 10 at 11:30 A.M. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Little Falls. A visitation will be held on Wednesday, September 9 from 4:00 - 7:00 P.M. at Emblom Brenny Funeral Service and from 9:00 A.M. until the hour of the service on Thursday at St. Mary’s Church in Little Falls. The family ask that you please respect the COVID-19 guidelines.
Donna was born on May 15, 1935 in Verndale, MN to Donald and Mildred (Rach) Peterson. She grew up on the family farm helping with the daily chores along with her brother and sisters; Vera, Jean, Don, Karen and Susie while holding down several jobs in the area including waitressing, grocery clerk and front desk clerk at the St. Charles Hotel and Restaurant in Staples, MN. Donna moved to Little Falls shortly after meeting Gary and took a job running the front desk at Madden’s Pine Edge Hotel and Restaurant. Donna married Gary on December 14, 1963 and started her family; Linda, Alan and Mark. Donna also was a secretary to one of the executives at Crestliner Boats in Little Falls, where she had the opportunity to move to New York Mills and help him start up Lund Boats. She however chose to stay in Little Falls and not move the family. Shortly after, in 1975 Gary and Donna purchased the Oak’s Supper Club and turned it into a favorite dining establishment in the Little Falls area. They made several improvements including installing the charcoal grill in the main dining room. Where you were sure to find her standing behind the grill cooking your favorite steak or seafood. Donna enjoyed interacting with her guests as she was sure to have a story, joke or a funny antidote which would always put a smile on the guests’ face. You were almost assured never to hear the same one twice. Donna would always change or put a twist to the story somehow. One of her favorite memories was the time she had 98 steaks on the grill for a party. Donna grilled all of them to perfection and not one of those steaks was returned. She prided herself on making great food. Donna and Gary sold the Oak’s in 1978 in order to spend time with family and friends. This was short lived when they went back to the Oak’s in 1980 to ensure that the area again had a great place to go out for dinner. Donna and Gary sold the Oak’s for the last time in 2000 in order to retire. Retirement was not really in the cards for Donna as she soon started a job at Coborn’s as a food demonstrator. She really enjoyed this new position as she was back creating food, telling jokes and stories, and most of all; she was “telling people where to go!” She also loved working in her garden at the apartment, which got her outside where she took care of her flowers and provided her with fresh vegetables. She loved watching her grandson’s snowmobile grass drags. Donna loved to play cribbage and watch MN sports teams, especially the MN Vikings. She was a member of a Bridge Club and loved to travel, especially to Las Vegas and Port Isabelle, Texas. She had a wonderful fulfilling life. She shared her love of life, spunk and sass with everyone who was lucky enough to have met her. She certainly will be missed and is unforgettable.
Donna is survived by husband, Gary; daughter, Lyn (Ray) Kalis of Royalton, MN; son, Mark (Stacy) Vonder Haar of Otsego; brother, Don (Jeanie) Peterson of Duluth; sisters, Karen Rainey of Conway, AR, Susan Mortenson of McMinnville, OR; grandchildren, Rick (Tonya Lashinski) Kalis, Randy (Sara Berg) Kalis, Kris (Kalis) Wittmann; step-grandchildren, Sheila (Darrell) Gaffke, Lisa (Mike) Robinson; great-grandchildren, Kylan, Kelton, Kenlin, Kyzler Wittmann, Teyah Riebe and step-great-grandchildren, Michaela, Austin, Ashley, Zachery and Hayley.
She was preceded in death by her son, Alan Vonder Haar; parents, Donald and Mildred (Rach) Peterson; sisters, Jean Cummings and Vera Twardowski; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Carl and Delores “Lonnee” Vonder Haar.