Donna Wilson McLarty

Published 11:27 am Monday, December 12, 2022

Donna Wilson McLarty was born January 17, 1945 and went to be with the Lord, as well as her Mom (Dorothy Irby Wilson), Dad (David Henry Wilson), Aunt Margaret Irby, Aunt Jenny Hunt – and her many pets over the years – on Thursday, December 8, 2022. She is survived by her husband, W. Theron McLarty, Jr.; daughter Jessica M. “Gigi” Collins and her spouse William “Chip” Collins; daughter Jennifer M. Sardone and her spouse, Michael Sardone; daughter Janna M. Chandler and her spouse, Charlie Chandler; her son, William Theron McLarty, III and his spouse, Krysten McLarty; and her sister Kathryn Hynes and her spouse, Terry Hynes; and her sister Jean Keeler and her spouse, Gary Keeler.

In the more than 77 years between those dates, she touched more lives than she knew. And the ones she knew, she nurtured like one of the many bushes and plants she grew in her garden and around her home of more than 40 years in Atlanta, Georgia. Like the sun’s rays energize and grow her garden, Donna’s love, engaged blue eyes, easy conversation, and creative spark fed those around her and made them feel better for having crossed her path during her journey on Earth.

Donna’s eyes lit up when she heard “Nanna” from one of her ten grandchildren – Liam, Aidan, Henry, Grace, Cam, Emma, Eleanor, Austin, Greta, and Elliott. It was her favorite role among many she played, and she made spoiling look like a new pastime.

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Donna was quick to volunteer her culinary skills, whether for an extended family dinner, a friend in mourning, a potluck for Northside Drive Baptist Church, or one of the many activities her children and grandchildren participated in. And if you asked her for the recipe, she could rattle off the exact measurements and ingredients – though somehow the dish never tasted the same as her masterpiece versions. Many readers are suffering serious mouthwatering at the memories of her chocolate chess pie, Thanksgiving gravy, and eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce, to name a few.

Before the Internet and “Siri”, there was Donna. If you needed to know something, you could start with her. She was an amazing conversationalist with knowledge on so many topics and a point of view on almost everything.

If you were pro-active about calling her, you might just beat her call to you. Those closest to her came to expect a regular outreach of calls, sometimes multiple times in a day. And when she picked up, you might just hear, “I was just thinking about you; you must be psychic.” If you replied, “Wise minds think alike,” she would counter, “And fools seldom differ.” Or vice versa.

She missed her calling as a TV anchor; she asked all the right questions and didn’t shy from those probing one level deeper. Fertilizing her conversations were her interests, which a Renaissance range from current affairs and politics to music and many dog breeds, including her latest penchant for Beardies.

Her creative spark was unrivalled. Tracing the thought process of how she arrived at any given inspiration was a fool’s errand. Apart from cooking, Donna also lent that spark to her sewing, writing, or any crafts in her house. Donna often lent those to her church, to the Atlanta Boy Choir, Girl and Boy Scouts, and other organizations. One of her most proud accomplishments as a writer was serving as the Editor of her high school annual at University High School in Oxford, Mississippi. She also took pride in being named “Most Courteous” by her senior class.

Donna was also a fighter. She would see things through. That perseverance proved most valuable against breast cancer, the complications after and several close calls in the thirty years since.

She was an advocate for her children, as well as her husband, the animals of the world and anyone needing a supporter. Donna worked with Roslyn Carter through Medical Auxiliary of the Medical Association of Georgia to ensure mental health services could be more accessible. She spent countless hours going to Atlanta Food Bank and taking food to churches with her daughter.

Donna was jovial, and her warmth infectious. If something hit her funny bone, you would know it by her quick smile and honest laughter.

Her curiosity not only drove her conversations; it also instilled a love for travel. Her most cherished memories included traveling with her church and children to Europe in the 1980s, around the US with her son in the 90s and with her family to Austria, Brazil, and Argentina in the mid 2000s.

Most of all, Mom was loved, and she was loved most of all by her husband, Theron, whom she had been with for more than 60 years before her passing. Her love shone bright on her family and those she nurtured throughout her life.

To say ‘Mom will be missed by many’ is an understatement.

Family and friends’ visitation will occur 6p to 8p ET on Tuesday, December 13th at H.M. Patterson and Son, Arlington Chapel in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Those wishing to celebrate Donna / Mom’s memory are invited to her 1p ET service at Northside Drive Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday, December 14th. The graveside service will be at 11a CT at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Oxford, Mississippi, on Saturday, December 17th.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Donna’s name to the Bearded Collie Club of America, the Atlanta Boy Choir, or Northside Drive Baptist Church.