Donna Louanne Cromwell Noland Kirby, age 84, died Monday, February 9, 2015, at the Kearny County Hospital in Lakin, Kansas. She was born on April 19, 1930, in Dodge City, Kansas, the daughter of Wesley Eugene and Ida B. Newell Cromwell. A resident of Garden City since 2007, moving from Dodge City, Kansas.
On May 27, 1948, she married James “Ace” Wesley Noland. He passed away on November 5, 1965 in Gray Co, Kansas. On August 3, 1967, she married LaVerne Sherman Kirby in Dodge City, Kansas. He passed away on March 20, 2009 in Wichita, Kansas.
Other Survivors include:
Two Sons Doug and Amy Noland of Maple Hill, Kansas
Robert Kirby of Colorado Springs, Colorado
One Daughter Carlee Vieux of Garden City, Kansas
Two Grandsons Alexander and Stephanie Vieux of Kansas City, Kansas
Andrew Vieux of Garden City, Kansas
One Granddaughter Diantha Foster and Jason Rutledge of Cheyenne, Wyoming
One Great Grand Son Gavin Rutledge of Cheyenne, Wyoming
She was preceded in death by her parents, and her husbands, and a Great Granddaughter, Fiona Rutledge.
Family and friends were the focus of Donna Kirby’s life, the more of each, the better. Her parents divorced when she was two years old. She was raised by her mother, her beloved maternal great grandmother Susie Smith, and her doting fraternal grandparents Desta and Ora Cromwell. She grew-up surrounded by many aunts, uncles, and cousins.
She attended schools in Dodge City except for her sophomore year when she lived with her Aunt Teeny and Uncle Ned Congdon in Superior, Nebraska. In high school, she worked at Goddard’s clothing store where she satisfied her love of “good goods.” During her school years she made many friends, and they kept in contact with each other for nearly 67 years. She helped plan her high school class’ reunions until their fiftieth when she retired and other class members continued.
Donna graduated from Dodge City Senior High in May 1948; and the following week she eloped with Ace Noland to Mt. Morrison, Colorado, where they were married. She was barely eighteen and he was 20 ½ twenty years old. That autumn they moved to Vets’ Ville near Colorado University in Boulder. She found a job in town; he attended classes in architecture. They lived on the GI Bill of $105 a month. After their daughter was born in November 1949, they moved back to Dodge City. Their son was born in October 1951. Donna devoted herself to being a good homemaker and maintaining a family for her children. Occasionally, she would take a job at McKinley Winter Livestock on sale days or at The Branding Iron Western Wear Store during a peak sales season. What she liked to do, though, was be at home for friends to drop by, to keep a neat and tidy house, to sew, to bake, or to work on some craft project. When Ace built a stock car, she traveled throughout southwest Kansas to attend the stock car races. She kept meticulous scrapbooks of Ace’s stock car racing days. She was room mother, den mother and Brownie Scout leader. She made dance recital costumes and costumes for the entire casts of three high school musicals. In November 1965, after sixteen and a half years of marriage, Ace died in a car crash. She was thirty-five, a widow with two children.
In the fall of 1966, Donna decided to try classes at the community college and began a degree in elementary education. She did well and held study sessions with classmates in her home. During the second semester she started dating a farmer from south of Dodge City, Sherman Kirby. A whirlwind romance ensued. On August 3, 1967, she married her life partner in the chapel at First Methodist Church in Dodge City. That was the end of community college for her. Sherman’s son Bob made their family complete. For the next 33 years, she immersed herself in the life of farmer/rancher wife.
Her career as “Granny” began in August 1977. She was thrilled to be a part of her three grandchildren’s lives. Anytime she got a call for help, she was immediately available. She loved to have the grandchildren spend time with Granddad and her on the farm.
It was a bittersweet time in May 2000, when Sherman and she sold the farm, paid off the farm debt, and bought a house in town. She adjusted quickly to life in town. Repeatedly she commented, “I loved that little house on Seventh Street in Dodge City.” In November 2007, she and Sherm at the urging of their son Bob and daughter Carlee who lived in Garden City and the encouragement of their son Doug, moved to independent living at Garden Valley Retirement Village in Garden City. In the next eight years, she moved three more times. When Sherman died in March 2009, they had been married 41 ½ years. She moved to a smaller apartment at Garden Valley Retirement Village. There she lived alone for the first time ever in her life. She really enjoyed that time of not having to consult with anyone about her schedule. Son Doug and daughter-in-law Amy gave her a little tri-colored King Charles Cavalier spaniel, Isabella, for exercise and Donna spoiled Isabella rotten. On July 15, 2013, she moved to her daughter’s home; and on July 14, 2014, she moved to nursing care at High Plains Retirement Village in Lakin, Kansas. Each time Donna moved, she had to divest herself of belongings that were so precious to her, and she gave up a little bit more of her independence. She did not like it, but she accepted each change as best she could.
Donna did not have prefect attendance in worship service and she could not pray aloud in front of anyone. All her life she searched for an understanding of Christianity. As a little girl depending on whether she was with her mother or with her grandparents, she attended either the Christian Church or the Presbyterian Church. As a teenager, she explored Roman Catholicism. She married into a Methodist family. She was baptized when her pre-school children were baptized. She taught Sunday school and vacation Bible school at First Methodist Church. She sent her children to Bible school across the alley at the Nazarene Church and at the First Baptist Church two blocks away. She made sure that her children were in church choirs and confirmation classes. When the family bought a television set, she watched Oral Roberts and other televangelists for enlightenment. She supported Carlee’s participation in Job’s Daughters, Doug’s and Bob’s involvement in DeMolay, and Sherman’s many Masonic activities. In the 1970s, she served as Guardian of Job’s Daughters Bethel #32 in Dodge City and as State of Kansas Job’s Daughters Grand Bethel Guardian. In the 1990s, she took the Menninger Bible study course. When the leader retired, the group persuaded Donna to facilitate the study. Never one to do things “just a little bit,” she bought so many Bible reference books that they filled three bookcases. In Garden City, she was a part of the Crossroads Sunday School Class, the Godmothers Ministry, and Evening Women’s Circle at First United Methodist Church. The Chancel Choir accepted her presence at Wednesday night practice after Wednesday night family supper. When it was too hard for her to participate in activities at the church, she received cards from members of the Caregivers Ministry. She had to know who each card sender was and how she knew him or her. She took her study Bible, the one with her perfect underlining of passages and notes in the margins, with her when she moved to Lakin.
Donna was self-centered, quick to correct others, and demanding. She was fun and spontaneous. She hated drunken behavior and loved coffee and cigarettes. She remembered the exact date she quit smoking: October 3, 1990, and never really gave up caffeine. She created a “living happily ever after” fiction for herself, which worked well for her almost all of the time. She was at her best when she thought she was caring for someone else’s needs. Donna embraced the joys and challenges of a life lived completely until the end. Her memory will last as long as children tell children about mothers they love.
There will be no public calling times.
Inurnment will be held at a later date.
Memorials may be given to the Godmothers Ministry or the Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo in care of Price & Sons Funeral Home 620 N. Main, Garden City, Kansas.