Donna Marie Noakes gained her wings and joined the Angels on Wednesday, August 10, 2022. As she made her journey to Heaven, she was comforted by her greatest loves, family, pets, and music. At her bedside was her husband of nearly 60 years, Wayne, daughter Dana-Lind, son D’on, beloved Coon Hounds Looee and Annee, her little stuffed monkey Libbee, a feather tick pillow that belonged to her beloved grandmother, and photos of all the passed away Noakesdogs, who were undoubtedly waiting in the Pet Section of Heaven for their Mommy’s arrival, all while her favorite Elvis songs filled the air like an angel serenading her way into Heaven.
Donna was born October 7, 1944, in at the Lying-In Hospital in Chicago, IL to Andrew E. and Anna M. (Strak) Tartenaar. Born prematurely and weighing a scant 2lbs 4oz in 1944, she was a miracle baby. She tipped the scales at 14lbs at a year old. Growing up, family and pride in America were main themes at home. Her grandmother Mary Strak Claussen was her everything. Donna learned how to cook plum dumplings, kolacky cookies, chicken goulash, cabbage and noodles, and many other old country recipes from her grandma. She learned how to love and appreciate America when she listened to grandma tell the story of why her family had left Europe for a better life and how breathtaking it was arriving at Ellis Island and crying at the first sight of the Statue of Liberty and the freedom she represented. Donna was an only child, but had her favorite cousins, the late Tony Strak, who she loved like a brother, and spoke to several times a week until his passing this past winter and her favorite little cousin Paula Strak Willett. Donna acquired her creativeness from her late mom and dad. Ann and Andy were both very artistic and talented in whatever projects they ventured, and the same gift of creativity passed to their daughter. Donna’s life in the 50’s was just like how life was depicted on Happy Days and American Graffiti; crinoline skirts, Elvis Presley, rock n’ roll music, dancing, school socials, going to Riverview Amusement Park, Hopalong Cassidy, and saddle shoes just to name a few. Her two very best friends were her family dog Buddy and her beloved rescue Golden Retriever puppy Sammy, who she saved when someone threw him out of a moving car. Most notable of all, when she was 11, she met an older boy named Wayne, who was a friend of a friend of her cousin. At that time, she had no idea that some years later this friend of a friend would become the next chapter in her life.
On February 23, 1963, Donna married Wayne P. Noakes at St. Dennis Catholic Church on the southwest side of Chicago. Shortly after the wedding, Uncle Sam knocked on the door and Wayne received his draft notice and entered the U.S. Army on July 23, 1963. After boot camp Wayne duty assignment was Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia. Donna went with and lived there in Virginia until shortly before the arrival of their firstborn son, Dwayne Lindsey. Upon discharge from the Army, Donna and Wayne settled back in Chicago in a home next door to Donna’s parents and Wayne returned to his career in management at the Illinois Central Railroad and in later years with Amtrak. Donna worked a few small jobs until the arrivals of daughter, Dana-Lind, son D’on Lane, and Peck’s Bad Boy, the first Noakesdog, called Luv. Then motherhood, head cook, nurse, teacher, decorator, mechanic, home improver, landscaper, maid, taxi service, and even more became her full-time job.
In the 70’s, 80’, and 90’s, Donna’s real talents developed and really shined. First and foremost, she was a great mom. There was never a morning we did not have a good breakfast or go to school hungry. There was never a day we did not have a warm coat and shoes. There was never a day we left the house looking like a total mess, she was a pro at putting head to toe school ensembles together. There was never a day we did not learn something, she read to us when we were little and made sure we had bookcases of many types of books as we got bigger. There was never homework or school projects that we did not hesitate to ask for help if we needed it. There was never a night we did not have a homecooked meal on the table for dinner. We always had special Sunday dinners and Big Family Birthdays. Holidays for Donna were never just holidays, they were extravaganzas. No crack, crevice, or room was ever left undecorated. Glitter was commonplace in Donna’s decorating bag many years before Martha Stewart declared it to be a “Good Thing.” She saved RC bottlecaps and tax checks to make sure we could see Disney World when we were children. She sacrificed trips and nights out for her and our dad so that we had Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, White Sox games, toys, swimming pools, and almost anything our hearts desired. She allowed us to learn about and love all kinds of animals by allowing us to have them as pets, even if it included the legless, slithery ones of which she was petrified. We were able to have birds, turtles, hamsters, bunnies, millipedes, frogs, toads, snakes, fish, hermit crabs, tarantula, cats, and most importantly many, many dogs. She knew that we would learn love, compassion, and empathy if we had pets to care for. She would sacrifice everything to make us a priority. In addition to all of this, Donna was an active member in the PTA from the late 60’s until the late 80’s. During these PTA years, Donna’s artistic talents really took center stage. She made some of the most beautiful hand painted ceramics, which are still adorning shelves and counters in our home. In the PTA, she organized several fundraisers which sold crafts donated by her, her mom, and the other PTA homemakers. Donna’s crafts and fundraising skills were so successful that she was able to turn a bankrupt PTA into a prosperous one which was able to buy over a dozen computers for the school students, numerous books for the library, office equipment for the school office, clothing, and supplies for underprivileged students. Donna’s greatest achievement for her countless hours of volunteered time and service to the school and students when she was nominated President of the Dawes School PTA. A position well deserved and one which we were all immensely proud of. The President pin which she received from the National Chapter meant more to her than diamond or gold.
In 1987, Amtrak transferred Wayne to Washington D.C. and Donna, Dana, D’on, Donna’s recently widowed mother, and Noakesdogs Lili and Rosebud all moved to Huntingtown, MD to begin another chapter. The move to Maryland was where Donna showed all her home improvement skills. She painted walls, ceilings and decks, floated sheetrock, removed tile floors, installed new floors, helped build decks, black topped driveways, landscaped a huge yard, chain sawed trees, wallpapered, and did various other home improvement projects. Donna also decided to take her crafting skills to places where she could sell them for herself and became a regular at numerous craft show circuits in Calvert, Anne Arundel, St. Mary’s Counties and in Washington D.C. Her creativity was limitless, and there was nothing she could not make.
The new Millennium did not have the best beginning for Donna. In 2001, she narrowly survived complications from heart surgery, which had her in an induced coma for nearly 2 months and caused her to undergo close to a dozen additional surgeries to rid her of the resulting infection. The recovery was a long and painful process, but her fur babies and music made it much more bearable. Her recovery was assisted by the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Billy Idol, and her guilty pleasure, Poison. During this time, Wayne had retired from Amtrak and began his career with the U.S. Government as a Railroad Inspector. This new job began the last chapter in Donna’s life, when she, Dana. D’on, and Noakesdogs Daffodil, Dixie Belle, Wally, and Sunny along with Noakescats Wacky and Chappy, all moved to Covington, LA in 2002. The 20 years went by so quickly, and as each year passed, Donna’s health declined a little more than the year before. The decline did not diminish her love for babies and animals. There are more babies than one can count that have been welcomed into the world with a gift from Miss Donna. She absolutely loved shopping for baby cloths and gifts. There are also countless pet parents that Miss Donna has gotten new fur babies a welcome home present or paid for or donated for medical procedures when the pet parents could not afford it. There are countless rescues that she has donated food, blankets, towels, bowls, cages, carriers, and money to. She loved the 2 and 4 legged babies that much. In her later years, health issues prevented her from doing the crafts she loved, but it did not stop her from doting on her first loves- her fur babies. She was the best Dog Mom ever. There was nothing any Noakesdog could ever want with her as their Mom or Wayne as their Dad. Never once did either one flinch at any cost of a medical expense or any one of the pups needs. Some of her happiest days in these last year’s came courtesy of the Louisiana Noakesdogs, Skeeter, Winkee, Sorella, Bela, Daylee Maree, Minnee, Looee, Annee, and honorary Noakesdog Miss Kittee, and Noakescat Ernee. She had so many hours of amusement and happiness watching and laughing at their antics, especially those of her beloved Daylee Maree running her Wee laps in the middle of the living room with Minnee in tandem, or her favorite thing, watching all 6 sit in a circle and howling to Who Dat. Her saddest days were in the past 5 years, when 4 of the 6 passed away, as well as Miss Kittee.
The last two years were difficult for Donna. Used to getting up and going, illness had robbed her of mobility, and she remained in her home until her passing. She spent her days with Wayne, Dana, D’on, Looee, Annee, and her little stuffed monkey Libbee. Donna’s love for America never wavered and she loved her President, Donald J. Trump. She loved watching anything Elvis Presley. She loved NASCAR races, especially Dale Earnhardt Jr. and picked the house we live in because it was #8. She also loved watching NFL and College football games, Days of Our Lives, 90 Day Fiancé, Fox News Channel, and Cobra Kai. Unbeknownst to many, had been a Saints fan for many years dating back to when Mike Ditka was their coach. Her waning days were filled with playing YouTube videos of the little Macaque monkeys she loved and listening to her Elvis music. She loved the Sirius XM Elvis Channel and especially loved his gospel music that played every Sunday morning. She would end every day with his songs serenading her from bedtime into the early morning. There was also an exceedingly small circle of friends and extended family who helped keep her spirits up. One of Mom’s dearest and most cherished friends, Sharon Bessey Sealy would often call, send pictures, and reminisce of family, old friends, and the old times in Chicago. Mom would also speak to her beloved cousin Tony several times a week until his passing last winter. He was her oldest closest friend besides our dad. They would talk for hours about their beloved grandma, family, old times, the pups, sports, and anything else under the sun. She was heartbroken when he passed away. On occasion, mom would get special phone calls from Evans Thibodeaux that would make her so happy. When she heard his special ringtone, she immediately perked up. It never mattered how busy he was, he always found a couple minutes to call and say hi. Those few moments of being remembered brought her so much joy. She loved him like a son and would brag about him to all her friends and nurses. I will never be able to thank Evans enough for everything he has done to help. Prior to entering hospice care, Nurse Practitioner Stacy Mitchell visited mom regularly. Stacy is the most incredible nurse and friend, she treated Mom like she was her own family and when she would visit, she would bring so much happiness just by sitting and talking to her. I can never thank her enough for how happy she made Mom and what a great friend she has become. Mom’s last caregiver was St. Tammany Hospice R.N. Sandy Bodin. Nurse Sandy took extra special care of her and helped guide us through the process with unparalleled kindness and compassion. We appreciate all the care that she gave Mom in the time she visited and all the help and guidance she gave me in the final days. Hospice nurses are true angels. We are also fortunate enough to have nurses living on each side of our home. We would like to extend a Special Thank You to Mica Rolling R.N. for all her nursing advice, assistance, and just being someone to talk to. Your help has been appreciated. A special Thank You to Tiffany Pizzitola R.N. Numerous times, we woke her up in the middle of the night to rush over and assist mom when she became ill. Tiffany and her mom, Pam Thibodeaux. got mom gifts and brought their little dogs over to cheer her up. They made food for us, and most importantly, Tiffany was the person who came when Mom passed and let us know she was gone. Forever, we are bonded by her empathy and love. We would also like to extend our gratitude to family friend Susan Decan. Susan is an Angel who has the most kind and caring heart and supplied us with so much food so that we would not have to worry about meals for days. She has also been a source of constant support and assistance to the family. Lastly, we need to express the most gratitude the Management and staff of the United States Border Patrol New Orleans Sector where D’on works. The USBP has gone out of its way to assist our family in our times of need. During Hurricane Ida, they provided a generator, fuel, and water so that mom’s oxygen unit and air conditioner could keep running. Agents volunteered and came to our home to cut trees and clear paths to ensure clear pathways for rescue personnel and a way out for us, if needed. When she passed, the USBP was beyond generous with their donations of money, flowers, and food, as well as, giving D’on all the time off he needed. Thank you to Jeffrey Allday and everyone at USBP in New Orleans for their compassion and professionalism.
There was a private cremation in August and Donna is back at home with her family and all her cherished pets, past and present. Wayne, Dana-Lind, D’on, Looee and Annee will be inviting all those who loved Donna Marie Noakes and wish to pay their respects to a Celebration of Her Life on October 8th, 2022, the weekend of her birthday. This Celebration will take place at her Covington residence of 8 Plantation LN, Covington, LA 70433. The time will be 5p.m.-9p.m. There will be a supper and desserts served. If planning on attending, please RSVP and contact Dana-Lind at 985-778-9969 or D’on at 985-778-9975. In lieu of flowers, please consider making donations to the following Animal Welfare Service and Animal Rescue in the name of Donna M. Noakes. Her dear friend, Dr. Lee Capone does the medical work for JPAWS and Animal Helper is a small rescue run out of NOLA which tries to help as many dogs in need as possible. Mom would be honored to know that in her passing, she was still helping the poor, suffering animals in our communities, Thank You.
JPAWS (Jefferson Protection & Animal Welfare Services)
Please mark on donation *****Donation to veterinary clinic for medical equipment******
2701 Lapalco Rd. Harvey, LA 70058
Or this Rescue….
Animal Helper email@example.com
Venmo at venmo.com/AnimalHelperNewOrleans
PayPal at paypal.me/animalhelpernola