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Donna L Mathes

March 21, 1969 - September 18, 2021

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Beloved sister and friend Donna L. Mathes unexpectedly left this earth after a brief illness at University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, WA on September 19, 2021, aged 52.

Donna was born on the first day of spring, March 21,1969, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


As a child in Iowa, Donna began her lifelong love of animals. Rescued cats, dogs, and litters of orphaned bunnies became pets. Donna was small but fast and strong. She was and active athlete, competing and winning at the state level in gymnastics. She spent her winters ice skating and summers at the local swimming pool. Donna took academics very seriously and was a straight-A student.

Donna attended George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the University of Iowa, where she made lifelong friends.

She followed her love of rainy days, music, art, alternative comics, and cooking to Seattle in 1991. There, she worked for many years as sous chef at the celebrated Painted Table, Whole Foods Market, as a personal chef, and most recently in her friend’s food truck. Donna had the pleasure of meeting one of her favorite comic book artists, Peter Bagge, and together they published a comic book, “Donna’s Day” about a day in her life.


Though Donna lived in Seattle for thirty years, she felt a deep connection to Puerto Vallerta, Mexico, a place she visited often and referred to as her second home.


Those who knew Donna knew of her deep feelings for animals. Not only her own pets (like children to her), but for any other animal she could help or had the pleasure of meeting. Whether volunteering her time in animal shelters, dog-walking, swimming with dolphins and seals in Mexico, or visiting sanctuaries for wild cats, kangaroos, and llamas, animals were Donna’s greatest love.


Donna will be remembered for being strong-willed, independent, kind-hearted, caring, and generous with her time and resources, always helping and feeding not only her extensive network of friends but strangers alike. We will never forget how funny Donna could be. She met every circumstance in life with trademark deadpan humor and wry glances from beneath her famous mane of wavy golden hair.

In addition to her beloved pets, dogs Quezi and Javier and cat Kyle, Donna is survived by her sister Gina Mathes, sister Kerrie Mathes and her husband Creston Lea, their children Cora and Arthur, brother Kurt Mathes, sister Beth Cavalier, boyfriend Brian Courtney, several aunts, uncles, cousins, and the many friends who were family to Donna.

She was preceded in death by her parents Bonnie Harger and Don Mathes, and dear friend Claudia Mendez.


In honor of Donna, share your love, vulnerability, spirit, and gifts with others. We invite you to share your memories and condolences by visiting Donations in Donna’s memory may be made to your local animal shelter or food bank. A celebration of life will be announced in the coming weeks.