Donna Mae Appel, age 93, of Aitkin passed away Monday, July 19 surrounded by family at River’s Edge in Aitkin, MN. Donna Mae (Long) was born on Sept. 28, 1927 in Jackson County, to parents Forest and Emma (Elness) Long. She grew up in Windom, MN and graduated in 1946. In school, Donna was in band and orchestra, playing the Bass Fiddle. She was in the Girls’ Athletic Club, 4-H and Girl Scouts. After graduating she moved to Seattle, WA and attended Edison Vocational School for Commercial Sewing and Secretarial Studies. Donna moved back to Windom and in 1949 she met Bernard Appel. After dating for 3 months they became engaged and 3 months later they were married on Sept. 28, 1949 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Heron Lake, MN. The couple made their home on a farm near Heron Lake. In 1959 Bernard and Donna moved their family and herd of cows to Glen Township in Aitkin, MN. Their marriage was blessed with 6 children: Mike, Roxy, Wayne, John, Lenore and Patty. They opened their home to their nephew, Donald, who became their oldest son. The couple also fostered several children while in the Aitkin area. They farmed and Donna also worked outside the home cooking at the Glen Store and later was employed by the Aitkin Public Schools as a cook for 17 years. Donna was an active community member. She was involved in 4-H as an adult leader for the Longfellow Go-Getters 4-H Club from 1960–1961, then she became the leader of the Pilots of Clear Lake. She helped teach in areas of sewing, cooking and crafts until 2019. She was also a member of the Coffee Hour Homemakers - they gathered monthly to make quilts for Ronald McDonald House. Donna was also active in the St. James Catholic Church as a member of the prayer chain, the quilting group, Ladies Aid and was also a greeter. She was a member of Farm Bureau, Central MN Cattlemen’s Association, Golden Age Club and Clear Lake Grange. She received the Aitkin County Outstanding Senior Citizen Award in 2000. Donna had many talents - but the ones she is best known for are sewing and baking. She loved to sew, and she made numerous quilts and pillows for her grandkids, great grandkids and recent graduates. Donna also made bread and caramel rolls and would frequently share them with her family. She also enjoyed some competition - she entered her various creations in county fairs and the state Grange competitions. She baked numerous types of breads and sweets for entry into Aitkin, McLeod and Redwood County fairs. Her canning, quilts and other sewing projects were also entered. She was awarded many blues and champion ribbons for her efforts. She really enjoyed competing against her daughters and grandkids at the fairs - when they won, she would state that she had taught them well. Donna loved to watch her grandkids compete in sporting events. She traveled all over the state in all kinds of weather to cheer on her favorite players, wrestlers and track stars. She also enjoyed watching them show livestock. She would sit for hours watching shows at various fairs and the MN State Fair. The last show she attended was at the Aitkin County Fair this year. The family would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the caregivers at River’s Edge and Moments Hospice providers. Their loving care touched our hearts and we are grateful for the compassion and gentle care that was always given to our mom. Donna was preceded in death by her parents; husband Bernard (married 50 years); brothers Verlyn and Harlan Long; sisters Ruth Long, Phyllis (Arnie) Appel. Donna is survived by her sister Beverly Alley; sisters-in-law: Barbara Appel and Sharlene Long; sons Donald (Sally) Appel, Michael (Cheri) Appel, Wayne (Kathy) Appel, John (Rose) Appel; daughters Roxy (Orv) Wigton, Lenore (Bob) Jackson, Patty (Doug) Dahlke; 15 grandchildren - Phil (Elizabeth) Appel, Missy (Jeff) Gore, Carrie (David) Shofner, Meghan (Ted) Thull, Amber Appel, Roy Wigton, Wade Appel, Stacy Appel, Ryan Appel, Daniel (Krista) Appel, Katie (Adam) Churchill, Adam (Alissa) Jackson, Christopher Jackson, Samantha (Nathan) Boyer, Matthew (Fiancée Kaylan) Dahlke; 15 great-grandchildren - Charlie Appel; Ella and Johnathan Gore; Brynea and Greta Shofner; Madelyn and Teagyn Thull; Owen, Astrid and Berit Appel; Joseph,, Emma and Isabella Churchill; Camden and Walker Jackson.
Funeral Mass will be 11am – Friday, July 30, 2021 at Saint James Catholic Church in Aitkin. Father David Forsman will officiate. Burial will be in Rabbit Lake Cemetery. Visitation will be 5 to 7pm Thursday July 29 with a prayer service starting at 7pm at Sorensen-Root-Thompson Funeral Home in Aitkin. Visitation will continue 1 hour prior to the service at the church.
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