Donna was born in the hills of southwest Virginia. She was a school librarian for almost 12 years before going to Law School at Rutgers University. In the midst of that, Donna also took art classes in Philadelphia and started singing with the Anna Cruisis Women’s Choir.
Donna met her wife, Linda Dean, in 2000. They were married in Canada and went to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon. Donna was a government litigator for the County of Camden for another 12 years before retiring to the beach.
“I didn’t have any interest in practicing law in Delaware, but am taking the Real Estate Exam in June and looking forward to fitting real estate into my life as a Delaware artist.” Donna will be an agent at the Lewes Prudential/Berkshire office.
Donna is also an artist and owner of Barking Dog Gallery. She and Linda reside in Lewes, along with their three dogs, two cats, and a bird.
When did you start volunteering at CAMP Rehoboth, and what events and activities have you been involved with?
I started volunteering almost as soon as we moved here five years ago, but I became much more involved when I joined the CAMP Chorus and the Women’s FEST planning committee. This year I co-chaired the 2014 Women’s FEST with Dottie Cirelli and had a blast. The women on that committee are the best.
What’s your best memory volunteering here?
Sitting with old and new friends on the front porch of the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center after Women’s FEST was over this year, drinking up the leftover wine.
Of the many events held by CAMP Rehoboth, which is your favorite and why?
Of course, I loved all the events held during Women’s FEST, but the best event ever, in my opinion, was the small concert held at CAMP during Women’s FEST this year. SheWho, a womens a cappella group from Philly, gave a performance that was so moving I saw tears in Steve Elkins’ eyes!
Favorite season here at the beach and why?
The wonderful, special, glorious days in Rehoboth after the parking meters go to sleep for the winter. I love sitting on the beach in a sweatshirt.
Name a childhood crush or idol…
Davy Jones of the Monkees. I just
didn’t understand those kids who liked the Rolling Stones. I knew the Stones wouldn’t last.
Most inspiring moment?
Opening up my “John Nagy Art Kit” when I was seven years old.
You’re a fly on the wall of any room, who’s in that room and what are/were they talking about?
I would love to go back to 1960 to Eleanor Roosevelt’s kitchen at Val-Kill and listen to her politely tell presidential candidate John F. Kennedy that he had his head up his a-- with regards to civil rights. She was a force to be reckoned with and he had no idea what he walked into.
Favorite U.S. city and why?
I may have been born in the south, but I’m a Philly girl at heart.
Name three of your “bucket list” items…
I don’t really have a bucket list. Since when do we need a check list to help us figure out if our lives are successful? Here’s a bit of advice. If you’re worried about what’s left on your bucket list, you’re not living your life!
Best year of your life and why?
Favorite holiday and why?
Christmas—I love the fact that for at least 30 days, I can be as tacky as I want to be—tinsel and multicolored lights!
You’ve been given the ability to name the 11th commandment, what would it be?
Thou shalt make something everyday…a painting, a flower garden, it does not matter. What matters is that we keep making things.
Name the biggest change you’ve seen in Rehoboth and how long have you been coming here?
I’ve been coming here since I was in law school, but the biggest change I’ve seen is how well the LGBT community has been blended into the community at large. “Gaydar” just isn’t reliable anymore within the city limits of Rehoboth.
Name three events that have shaped your life to where it is today,,,
1. Meeting my wife Linda has added so much to my life.
2. Joining the Anna Crusis Choir in Philadelphia taught me to love singing again.
3. Taking art classes at the University of the Arts and the Fleischer Institute in Philly helped me learn to be fearless about learning new skills.
You’ve been asked to appear in a fundraiser for CAMP Rehoboth and need a drag name. What would it be?
Lucilu Who LaRue (LaRue was my mother’s maiden name)
Your best vacation ever was to…
We spent a few weeks in Nova Scotia in our first little “canned-ham” trailer. I could literally have taken a great picture every 30 seconds. Amazing.
Most embarrassing moment?
Sure, like I’m gonna volunteer that info. Not likely. LOL.
What are you most thankful for?
The life that I have here with Linda and all of our friends. And chocolate. Oh, and Vietnamese food. And the way puppy bellies smell! Sorry, I couldn’t possibly choose just one.
We’re very grateful for your volunteer efforts here at CAMP Rehoboth, especially with the Chorus and Women’s FEST. Special thanks for your willingness to assume a chairperson’s role with the FEST this year. You, Dottie (Cirelli), and the entire Women’s FEST committee did an outstanding job in making it such a big success. Congrats to all of you!
Know someone whose efforts should be considered for the CAMP Rehoboth Volunteer Spotlight? Email your suggestion.
Photo by Geri Dibiase: Dottie Cirelli and Donna Whiteside