Donna Louise Shepherd, a life-long resident of Cottage Grove, OR, peacefully passed away on March 28, 2019 at the age of 95.
Donna was a late-in-life philanthropist whose many generous gifts helped launch and sustain a wide variety of local social service programs benefitting thousands of area residents. She was unpretentious and had a soft spot in her heart for cats – and for kids, even though she never had any children of her own.
Donna was an only child, born in her family’s North Ninth Street home on May 31, 1923 to Adalia and Horace Hatch. She attended Adams Grade School (1st-6th), skipping second grade, and missing most of third grade due to scarlet and rheumatic fevers. As a young girl her favorite toys were “Flaming Mamie” and “Peggy”.
Donna attended West Side School (7th-8th), then high school on Jefferson Avenue (9th-11th) before transferring to the then-new Cottage Grove High School on Taylor Street her senior year. She graduated from there in 1941.
After high school, Donna attended business school in Eugene. After only three months, Donna was deemed to know everything taught and was graduated. World War II was under way and Donna took the civil service test, but ultimately did not pursue war employment. Instead, she took a job at First National Bank in Cottage Grove where she learned bond amortization. She worked there for six years.
In 1948, Donna went to work for Woodard Lumber Company, learning lumber invoicing. It was there she met Doyle Shepherd, whom she would later marry. In 1951, Donna transferred to the Woodard Plywood Mill, where she learned a new invoicing system.
For a short time, Donna left Woodard Lumber, thinking that life in Portland might be of interest. There, she went to work for the Illinois Central Railroad, where she became the first female off-line clerk. After six months enjoying all that the big city had to offer, Donna returned to her hometown of Cottage Grove and the Woodard Lumber Company.
Soon after, on May 29, 1954, she and Doyle were married in Eugene at the home of Doyle’s brother, Jim.
In 1959, Donna began working in the accounting department at the Village Green Resort Hotel, retiring in 1972.
In 1997, Donna and her husband Doyle made the single largest financial contribution in their lives – nearly $150,000 – to build a therapy pool in what was then the old Cottage Grove Hospital’s Rehabilitation Center.
Just months after the Shepherds’ investment, and with the passing of the Tax Reform Act by Congress, the financially struggling Cottage Grove Hospital went into bankruptcy and out of business. Like many in the community at that time, Donna was angered and unnerved by the local hospital closure. She joined with fellow residents to form the upstart group Citizens Supporting Healthcare. Proclaiming “We cannot let our hospital fail,” Donna recruited to the cause Casey Woodard, the grandson of W.A. Woodard, her former employer, good friend, and leader of the original effort that built the local hospital.
Donna was unwittingly instrumental in obtaining the “Act of Congress” that in 1998 designated Cottage Grove as a Critical Access Hospital and therefore eligible for the higher reimbursement rates required to make the new facility fiscally sound. She was quoted in the Cottage Grove Sentinel as saying, “I told Senator (Gordon) Smith that we really need a hospital in Cottage Grove and that it’s hard to explain to seniors why we can’t have one.” Smith later wrote to Donna, thanking her and telling her he had shared her comments during his presentation to the Senate.
Donna served on the Cottage Grove Community Hospital Foundation board for nine years and was an active member of the Campaign Committee that raised the $2 million match instrumental in establishing the new hospital and medical clinics in Cottage Grove in 2003. She was also a life member of the Cottage Grove Hospital Auxiliary.
Her financial donation to area hospitals – which included the Cottage Grove Community Hospital and Sacred Hear t Medical Center at RiverBend – totaled over $1 million. In 2008, her contribution purchased the installation of ceiling-mounted patient lifts throughout the newly built RiverBend hospital.
Several years after the death of her husband, Donna created the Doyle and Donna Shepherd Foundation and made significant and substantial financial contributions in support of many causes in and around Cottage Grove.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the Cottage Grove Humane Society, The Volunteers in Medicine Clinic or Cottage Grove Medical Center.
A funeral Service will be held at 1:00 PM on Monday, April 15, 2019 at Smith-Lund-Mills Funeral Chapel, 123 S. 7thSt., Cottage Grove, OR. A private interment will be at Rest Haven Memorial Park in Eugene. Please access the online guestbook at www.smithlund.mills.com