Donna Deeprose, 81 years of age, passed away January 2nd from heart and respiratory failure at Vassar Brothers Medical Center with her husband of almost 60 years, Rafael Diaz, at her side holding her hand.
She was born in Alberta Canada and came to the States in 1961 where she met Rafael when both were students at different graduate schools at Columbia University and soon married. Before retiring to Highland in 2003, they lived in Manhattan for some 40 years where she had a career as a writer, management trainer and author of numerous books on management.
When one thinks of her life in Highland it is best summarized as one of service to the community. Earlier in Manhattan, she had cut her service teeth as an active board member of a community center on the Upper Westside. In Highland, she became a veritable Swiss army knife in her range of services:
For the Lloyd Environmental Conservation Council, Donna worked on fundraising but was not above getting her feet deep into mud for projects. So extensive was her contribution that she was later awarded the Stewardship of the Land award by the Council.
The Town of Lloyd Historical Preservation Society benefited from her skills as a writer for its monthly presentation programs, Donna interviewed upcoming speakers for the press release and followed up with an article of what went on at the program. All of this bolstered attendance and membership.
For 10 years she and Rafael ran the Learn-to-Run program for the Hudson Valley Rail Trail that graduated over 200. Her role was to encourage participants struggling at the back to stay the course through to a joyful graduation 20-minute run. She also helped create and host the Rail Trail’s Caboose museum near Walkway that drew 8,000 visitors yearly.
It was for the Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park that Donna made her greatest community contribution. She fought for the park during the hotly-contested referendum by preparing a large 3-dimensional diorama that visualized what the park would look like and bring to the town. The park won, Donna then took on the job of writing and managing grants needed for construction and amenities as well as fundraising for the trailered boat ramp.
The above resume of service, as impressive as it might be, was but a small measure of who Donna was. As word of her passing spread among her many friends whose lives she affected, a bigger picture emerges. Donna was a lovely person not only in appearance but in how she lived. No one can remember Donna having a mean thing to say about anyone or ever expressing anger. What they remember is how generously and genuinely she treated them with respect and real interest. She loved them and they loved her back. Losing Donna will leave a hole in their lives.
Donna was physically active throughout her life. She most enjoyed the weekly Bob Baab hikes in Mohonk and elsewhere where she made many lasting friends who mourn her loss. And regularly ran or walked the rail trails in Highland and New Paltz. She loved her travels in Europe and Mexico, which were mostly with an eye toward taking in archeological sites, the most memorable of which were cave art in Northern Spain.
She remained a Canadian citizen with a green card but not for lack of love for this country. Like many an American mom, she worried as her son Jason served a long career in the US Army from Desert Storm through Iraqi Freedom and other overseas posts.
Donna is survived by a brother and sister in Alberta and nephews and nieces throughout Canada, and her husband and son. Due to concerns about Covid an immediate service will not take place. Instead a remembrance event will be held at the Highland Landing Park at a later date.
Arrangements by the Michael Torsone Memorial Funeral Home Inc., 38 Main St. Highland, NY 12528.
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