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1937 Donna 2023

Donna Sesler

April 2, 1937 — December 7, 2023

Donna Raye Sesler

4/2/1937 - 12/7/2023

 Donna Raye (née Bergsten) Sesler, age 86, of Manhattan and a resident of Meadowlark’s Miller House since 2017, passed away peacefully at Good Shepherd Homecare & Hospice after a brief andsudden illness.

 Donna was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, William (Bill) Sesler who to her great surprise passed away on her birthday in 2021. Providentially, she was reunited with her “Billy boy” on his birthday. They had married on Valentine’s Day and had only been significantly separated during their marriage by the pandemic response for 11 months but were joyfully and sweetly reunited after their long-forced isolation on the day of their anniversary, Valentine’s Day.

 Donna was born and raised in the Blue Valley area where her Swedish immigrant parents farmed before the family eventually settled in the Wamego area. She followed her sister Darlene to Topeka to start a job with the state the Monday following her high school graduation, before eventually returning to Manhattan to live with her grandmother and work in the Chemistry Department at Kansas State where she met Bill who at the time and during his 47-year career worked in the Controller’s office. She admired his energy and punctuality and the rest as they say, is history.

 They raised two boys in an era when the wife was expected to be the homemaker (aka “domestic engineer” as that term was used in 1970’s) when so many of today’s conveniences did not exist. Meals from scratch had to be cooked, clothes required hanging to dry and two energetic and constantly fighting and playing boys had to be raised, chased, and even deservedly disciplined when needed. Mom was a wonderful cook and a superb baker leaving her family with sweet memories of delicious desserts from basics such as Toll House chocolate chip cookies to the more intricate cream puffs and an all-time favorite, cherry cream cheese dessert. Sunday meals were always special, and she believed in cooking a separate meal every day. During their time at Marlatt grade school, the family had lunch and dinner together daily in a quintessential Father Knows Best nuclear family style.

    Mom was very sharp of mind and memory who continued her love of learning her entire life.  While at Meadowlark, her favorite activity was reading and learning from the internet- her lifeline to the world at large. Even though separated by much distance, she never forgot a birthday of her sons and grandkids, as they always received well in advance a gift and a card with a handwritten note. In retirement, Bill and Donna enjoyed travel and touring nearby Kansas towns, lunching at locally owned restaurants.

 Donna treasured her grandchildren, eagerly anticipating their all too brief visits each year. Their pictures surrounded her in her residence and in her final hours she was not only surrounded by their pictures, but by their kind, emotional and loving words. Two of them wanted to share their remembrances.

 Mikaela penned the following.

Donna 5 out of 365 days of the year

She can see us, and we can be near

Paper skin reveals bright blue veins

Somber, wise eyes precede her demise

Cold hands grasp at my own

Desiring contact that can’t be found on the phone

Her home is in the land of her youth

To leave, she cannot stand

My beautiful boy she says to my father

And yet, his days of boyhood have long passed

They share the same eyes

Evidence of their familial ties

In quiet moments, she recounts her past

Of places traveled and experiences had

She recalls her first date with Bill

Young and spry and full of vigor

She loved his punctuality most of all

After he passed, it was never the same

He was the wick that kept her fire aflame

I see her in handwritten birthday cards,

vanilla ice cream cones, and countryside car rides

I hear her in the chirps of bluebirds,

static over the phone, and the pitter patter of rain

I feel her in the deepest trenches of my soul

Marked in the roadmap of my heart

I miss her smile, I miss her laugh

I miss the hands that held mine as I said goodbye

William (Willy) shared the following:

Growing up some of our fondest memories as a family was making the trip up to Manhattan, Kansas from Miami, Florida to visit our grandparents. Every summer we went, we had such a great time spending the days with Grandma whether it was just going out to eat breakfast or hanging inside the house playing her favorite game of solitaire. My favorite memory with our grandma was when my Dad’s side of the family and my uncle’s side of the family ate at IHOP after our grandfather’s funeral. It was the first time in over a decade both sides of the family were in Kansas together and it was a beautiful representation of community and family despite normally being thousands of miles apart. Outside of the time we spent In Kansas over the summers, it was always a great treat being able to call my grandma over the phone. Her joyful and overwhelming love for us was always felt through the phone. She has always been a beacon of light and joy.

  Donna was also preceded in death by her parents, Pauline (née Lundin), and Carl Bergsten her older sister Darlene Marshall, and her older brother Donald (Donnie) Bergsten. Donna is survived by her boys, Tim (Myrla) and Chris, six grandchildren (William, Mikaela, Tatiana, Vanessa, Sabrina and Alicia) and 5 great-grandchildren (Bailey, Colette, Jackson, Dillon and Kian), her brother, David, and many nieces and nephews.

  A celebration of life will be held on Wednesday (August 7, 2024) at 11:00 a.m. at the Campenella & Stewart Funeral Home, Wamego, Kansas.

  For those who desire, in lieu of flowers a contribution can be made to the Meadowlark Foundation, a wonderful facility where she and Bill resided in their later years. Those may be sent in care of Campanella & Stewart Funeral Home, P. O. Box 48, Wamego, KS 66547

  Online condolences may be left at Campanella & Stewart Funeral Home, Wamego, Kansas

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donna Sesler, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Upcoming Services

Celebration of Life

Wednesday, August 7, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Campanella & Stewart Funeral Home

4370 Salzer Rd. P.O. Box 48, Wamego, KS 66547


Click to watch

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