Donna was born in Lewistown, Montana, to William and Ellen (Anderson) Benes. The family lived first in a log house in the Judith Mountains and later in a little house on the prairie north of Hilger, Montana. She attended schools in Moulton, Hilger and Christina. Following graduation from Fergus County High School, Donna worked at the Bon Ton and then the Fergus Creamery in Lewistown.
In 1950, Donna moved to Billings and worked as a typist. She met John Michel at Trinity Lutheran Church, and they were married on September 23, 1951. They were blessed with two sons, and she became a stay-at-home mom before the term was invented.
She was a faithful and active member of Trinity Lutheran Church. and an avid supporter of Trinity Lutheran School. Donna served in many capacities such as Sunday school teacher, Parent Teacher League member, and treasurer for the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League at church. At age 80, she began sewing quilt tops for Lutheran World Relief quilts. After moving to an apartment in 2013, she learned to crochet and knit with her friends at Aspen View senior retirement community and knitted about 100 caps per year. She also enjoyed reading, doing crossword puzzles, and playing pinochle and other card games.
Donna was preceded in death by her husband John; sister Wilma Benes Bustell; and brother Jay Benes. She is survived by her brother Robert Benes of Lewistown; sons Roger (Karole) Michel of Billings and Gerald (Bridget) Michel of Helena; grandchildren Eric Michel (Georgia), Alexander Michel (Leah) and Bethanie Ballenski (Timothy); and seven great-grandchildren, John, Honória, Wesley, Miles, Turner, Desmond and Jack.
May Donna’s confirmation verse, Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life (Revelation 2:10), be a comfort to family and friends who will miss her loving presence in their lives.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 5, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 537 Grand Ave., with interment to follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens. Memorials may be given to Trinity Lutheran Church or School.