Wayne Gardner Donelson, 64, of Ashburnham, MA, died peacefully at his home on December 25, 2013. 

Mr. Donelson was born April 27, 1949 in Washington, DC son of Kenneth Donelson and the late Phyllis (Gardner) Donelson. There were many places he called home: Italy, Turkey, Greece, Taiwan and Kenya.  He remained conversational in Swahili, Greek and Mandarin Chinese, exercising this skill with waiters, nurses, and taxi drivers to both the delight and occasional embarrassment of his daughters. 

Wayne is survived by his wife Bettyna (Dow) Donelson whom he met on a blind date in Hanover N.H., arranged by a student who had attended photography seminars with each – one on capturing foliage in Vermont with Mrs. Donelson, and one photographing wild animals in Kenya with Mr. Donelson. 

Wayne worked in sales for printing companies, as silkscreen artist, photographer, an encyclopedia salesman and a safari guide. He was passionate about his family, wooden boats, skiing, golf, the "V", and his dog Lucy, Mr. Donelson was most at home on Lake Wampanoag on his boat, with a picnic lunch and a Tom Clancy novel.

Wayne was a Vietnam Veteran, trained with the 101st Airborne Division and later with the 765th Transportation Battalion. He felt honored to serve his country.  The son of a diplomat, Mr. Donelson grew up primarily overseas although one of his fondest memories was serving as a student usher at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, an opportunity afforded him as a member of The Order of DeMolay. When telling the story, he recalled that the day was so frigid that his father stuffed his pants with newspapers for warmth. Wayne was chaplain of Douglas E. Hicks VFW Post #7389, Westminster, Mass., and helped organize the Post's annual Christmas Community Dinner for more than 20 years. 

Wayne is survived by his daughters, Louisa, Sophie, his grandson Theodore, as well as his father Ken, sister Kendra, and his brother Craig of Sequim, Washington.

Family and friends will honor and celebrate Wayne's life at a Memorial Service at 1pm on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at the Ashburnham Community Church, Chapel St., Ashburnham, Ma.  A reception for veterans and comrades will be held on Friday, January 24,, 4-6pm at the VFW Post # 7389 in Westminster, Mass. In lieu of flowers, you are kindly asked to make donations in Wayne's memory to the American Red Cross, 800-RED-CROSS; redcross.org. or the Douglas Hicks Post # 7389, PO Box 388, 2 Eaton St. Westminster, Ma. 01473.

To sign the online guestbook for Wayne please visit visit our website at www.fletchercares.com.  The Lamoureux Fletcher and Smith Funeral Home, 105 Central St., Gardner, is honored to be assisting the family with the arrangements.

Published at Fletcher Funeral Homes


In Memoriam