Donna Rae Rathert joined Jesus in heaven Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011 in Phoenix, Ariz. with her family at her side. Donna was born Feb. 25, 1949 in St. Louis, Mo. to Lawrence and Leona (Magwitz) Schlimpert. She was raised in St. Louis and graduated from Lutheran High School South. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Valparaiso University in 1971 and a Master of Religious Education from Western Theological Seminary in 1997. Donna spent most of her adult life in Kalamazoo, where she and Kenneth Rathert raised their children Adrienne and Charles.
Donna devoted her life to deepening her relationships with God, her family, her friends and her community (most recently Three Rivers). Donna was an ordained clergy member who also worked as a Christian educator and spiritual counselor. She enjoyed leading labyrinth and iconography retreats. Donna also had endless creative energy, which she channeled into activities as diverse as decorating her study with butterflies, writing children’s books, and painting. Donna painted profusely, creating a series depicting mothers around the world; she also wrote many religious icons. When St. Anne was declared the patron saint of Detroit, the Archdiocese of Detroit used Donna’s icon image of St. Anne in its related announcements. An image of Hildegard of Bingen by Donna’s hand was used on the cover of Pope Benedict XVI’s recent book Great Christian Thinkers. Donna was a Board Member of the Carnegie Center for the Arts, a member of the Three Rivers Artists Guild, and was on the EarthSong Council.
Although she led a full spiritual and creative life, Donna always made time for, and cherished, her family. She loved traveling with her children, and visited them often, no matter what state or country they were living in. Donna’s greatest joy was spending time with her granddaughter Elaina.
Donna is preceded in death by her father, Lawrence Schlimpert and her brother-in-law, Dennis Boyce. She is survived by her two children, Adrienne Rathert of New Orleans, La. and Charles (Allyson) Rathert of Phoenix, Ariz.; her granddaughter, Elaina; her mother, Leona; her sisters, Susan (Dennis) Boyce and Judy (Ray) Redlich; many nieces and nephews; her former husband, Kenneth Rathert; and many family and friends.
A memorial service for Donna will be held at 10 a.m. on March 17 at her church, St. John’s Lutheran (56050 Buckhorn Road, Three Rivers, MI 49093). Donations in memory of Donna may be directed to Vineyard Outreach Ministry (811 S. Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008), The Hermitage (11321 Dutch Settlement Road, Three Rivers, MI 49093) or St. John’s Lutheran of Three Rivers.