It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Donna Lee Bennett, 74, of Fruita, CO on November 30th.
Born in Tupper Lake, NY on January 10, 1948. She was the daughter of the late Gregory and Virginia Rowley. In her early life, she found refuge in books and learning, leading to excellence in academics. She graduated from high school as valedictorian. Following high school, she obtained a bachelor’s (College of St. Rose, NY) and master’s degree in special education (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill). She worked professionally in many roles; however, they shared the commonality of advocating for others – primarily with victims of abuse and neglect and children with special needs.
Donna has always been an agent of change and a force to be reckoned with even when she was little, she would identify concerns and prod the adults in her household into action to address problems. She continued this honesty and galvanized action from those in authority, who preferred inaction, to hold abusers accountable for their victimization of others. From a District Attorney who, at that time, refused to prosecute child abuse in Pennsylvania to ‘How are the Children’ in Colorado, Donna has been the Don Quixote of child abuse and neglect. She has confronted many including attorneys, commissioners, priests, a Senator, and a Governor when she felt kids weren’t getting a fair chance at justice.
The world is better off for Donna having been here, though not always calmer, if she became aware if an injustice Donna had no problem going to battle for the vulnerable with a rare tenacity.
She has improved the lives of children in several states: New York, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and most recently, Colorado over the course of her life. Wherever she has lived, she has made an impact, and she will be dearly missed.
In addition to her advocacy, she was devoted to her family. She is survived by her husband, Allyn Bennett, daughter, Jessica and spouse Christy, two spirited granddaughters, Addison and Bayleigh, and dear friends across several states and times in her life.
She is preceded in death by her parents and a very special aunt and uncle, Freda and Clifford LaBarge, with whom she was very close.
She and her family would like to thank the staff at the Willows for caring for her these past couple of years and the compassionate staff at HopeWest who took excellent care of her in her final days.
In lieu of flowers, her memory would be most honored by carrying forward the important work of advocating for our most vulnerable children in the prevention of child abuse and neglect in whatever manner possible in your own lives.
May she rest in peace.