Donna Jean Dreyer, age 88, slipped away in the early morning hours of March 5 at Yancey House in Burnsville. She leaves behind her a legacy of service, family and friendship.
She was born Donna Jean Cook in Abington, Pennsylvania. She graduated from DePauw University (Indiana), where she met Bill Dreyer, her husband of 50 years. She completed the course work for a Master’s degree in communications at Temple University (Philadelphia). Donna Jean and her family lived in nine different places, including Guatemala City, before she and Bill settled in Yancey County in 1978.
Donna Jean was kind, good-humored, and wise, with a keen intelligence and an ability to get to the heart of things. She was devoted to her extended family and was a friend and mentor to many. Her house was a place of tea and sympathy, practical advice, and the occasional hard question.
She worked in management roles at nonprofits, including the American Friends Service Committee, Penland School of Crafts, North Carolina School of the Arts, Carolina Theater Company, and Spruce Pine Hospital, and she served as a volunteer, board member, and advisor to other organizations, including Celo Health Center. A skilled writer, she self-published a memoir titled Decrescendo and wrote a blog about aging.
She attended Trinity Episcopal in Spruce Pine and St. Thomas Episcopal in Burnsville. She was preceded in death by her husband Bill Dreyer, siblings Don Cook and Dorothy Guy, and grandson Miles Dreyer. She is survived by brother David Cook (Menomonie, WI), children Kevin Dryer and wife Indi Dieckgrafe (South Bend, IN), Robin Dreyer and wife Tammy Hitchcock (Yancey County), Melissa Madura-Altmann and husband Ron Altmann (Morristown, NJ), six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and a poodle named Nigel.
The family thanks the caregivers at Celo Health Center, Yancey House, Compassionate Care, Pruitt Home Health, and MemoryCare as well as Margot Rossi and Rachel Swinney for their attention and kindness during the last years of her life. Memorial gifts may be directed to the Celo Health Center Medication Fund or Compassionate Care of WNC.
There will be a memorial service later in the spring.
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