Norma J. Donelson
Feb 15, 2018 | 781 views | 0 0 comments | 83 83 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ROWE, MA. - Norma J. Donelson, 81, a longtime resident of Rowe, died on February 3. Mrs. Donelson was born on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, attended secretarial school in Sydney, Nova Scotia, and studied music at the Toronto Conservatory in Toronto, Ontario, and the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

After residing in Toronto, Jamaica, Geneva, Switzerland and Montreal, Mrs. Donelson moved to the United States and settled in Milwaukee. In Milwaukee she became a noted jazz pianist both as a solo performer and as the leader of her own jazz trio. She played in venues as varied as the Eiffel Tower in France, the Eastern and Oriental Express train in Malaysia, and the Star of Milwaukee excursion boat on Lake Michigan. One of her proudest moments was on June 25, 1997, when she was sworn in as an American citizen at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

Mrs. Donelson was also a skilled chef. She studied cooking at the Ritz Escoffier School of Cooking in Paris, with Patricia Wells at her homes in Paris and Provence, and at the Marquette, a one-star restaurant in Kortrijk, Belgium. Anyone fortunate enough to partake of one of her meals knew that she learned well.

Mrs. Donelson was a gifted photographer and specialized in capturing the natural beauty surrounding her home in Rowe. Her photographs of animals and landscapes have been exhibited at local galleries and at the Massachusetts Statehouse.

She is survived by her loving husband Brian; sisters Margaret Waller of Stratford, Ontario, and Karen Harmon of Calgary, Alberta; daughters Jennifer Gunyon of Terrace, British Columbia, and Julia Reid of Seattle, WA; son Stewart Gunyon of Montreal, Quebec; stepdaughters Cathy Currier of Brooksville, FL, and Debra Donelson of Tampa, FL; and niece and caregiver Stephanie Bird of Heath, MA. She was predeceased by daughter Madeline Reid.

A memorial service will be held at 10 am Saturday, May 19, at the River Valley Christian Church in East Colrain, MA, of which she was a founding member and organist. Guestbook condolences may be made at

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