Donna May Brock (90) of Spencer, New York passed away peacefully on Tuesday August 22nd surrounded by four generations of her loving family. Donna was born on August 19th, 1933, in Van Dyke, Michigan to Donald and Marguerite Toyryla.
Donna was predeceased by the love of her life and husband of 67 years, Elton, her daughter Deborah, son Nathanael and brother Donald.
Donna is survived by her daughter Lori and husband Donald Lesh, son Timothy and wife Cecilia Brock, and daughter Robin Jolicoeur. Her grandchildren Amanda and husband Steve Hickey, Cassie and husband Herb Vasquez, Michelle Brock, Pamela and husband Emory Barnes, Jennifer Brock, Thomas and wife Pratima Brock, Cameron Jolicoeur and fiancé Apple, Joshua and wife Erin Whitney, Caprise and Bijou Brock. Her great-grandchildren Reece and Liam Hickey, Ava and Greyson Whitney and Jackson Brock. Her siblings Carol and husband Donald Kratzer, Kathleen and husband Dick Haynes, Denny and wife Peggy Toyryla, Michael and wife Betsy Toyryla, Freddy and wife Susan Brock, and Mary and husband Jim Cargill. As well as a multitude of nieces, nephews, cousins, special friends and neighbors.
Donna May spent her first nine years in Michigan, and then moved to the small farming town of Spencer, NY. She lived an idyllic childhood of love and laughter. It was here she learned many life lessons- the value of hard work, the importance of family, and her love of creation. Being the oldest, she grew up taking care of her siblings, and the many responsibilities of a household and an active farm.
When she was fifteen there was a chance meeting that would forever change her life. She met a handsome young man that swept her off her feet. They quickly fell in love and were together every day for the rest of their lives. She graduated from Spencer High School in 1951 on a Monday, and two days later, on Wednesday June 27th, she became Mrs. Elton Brock.
Donna’s goal was to be a professional singer, she took every opportunity to showcase her talent. Her plans changed and her dreams came true when she started her family. While her husband was away at war, Donna worked at National Cash in Ithaca, NY, the Spencer Needle and the Spencer Co-op. She was everyone’s favorite playground aide at Spencer Central and worked for years in the school district as a substitute teacher, secretary, computer lab teacher, special education assistant- she made a difference in so many children’s lives.
Above everything else, she valued being a wife and mother to her five children. She thrived on taking care of her family with homemade meals, growing her own food, making her children’s clothes, creating a different hairstyle for her girls each day, keeping an immaculate home, and reading to her children every night. Some of her children’s favorite memories of her are the songs she would sing to them. Donna put her heart into everything it means to be a mother. Donna and Elton took family vacations every year and made the simplest of things so special- summers at Spencer Lake, camping in the Adirondacks, beach vacations to Myrtle Beach and Florida happened every single year!
A large part of Donna’s life that she passed down to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren is having a deep faith in God. Donna was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses on January 21st, 1967. She loved to share the promises from the Bible with everyone she met. Her faith was deeply ingrained in her, she did not merely speak it, she lived it. She was the epitome of a compassionate, kind, forgiving, loving, humble, and courageous Christian woman. She was so selfless, she always put her needs ahead of everyone. Even during the darkest and hardest of times, Donna was able to garner her strength and share Scriptures that showcased love and hope from the Bible—even up to her final moments.
Donna May enjoyed the simple things of life. She found beauty in everything around her. Donna had a heart of gold, she always looked for the best in people. She taught her children that those who were the hardest to love, usually needed it the most. She has left a legacy of commitment, devotion, dedication, faithfulness, hope, integrity, respect, empathy and gratitude. Donna was the pillar of our family, the glue that held us together, the matriarch, a source of wisdom, a confidant, full of unconditional love, she had a generous heart, she was the greatest caregiver, and displayed a zest for life.
The things Donna May was most known for- everything she cooked tasted spectacular, having a lead foot, piping hot soup, loving the beach, enjoying sunrises and sunsets, gardening, playing pinochle, taking long walks, watching Downtown Abbey, singing with all her heart, always using her imagination, being MacGyver, living up to her nickname Florence Nightengale- for her amazing nursing abilities, dancing the jitterbug, listening to Neil Diamond, dressing up, always being up for anything, enjoying adventure, real camping, Brock’s pond , campfires, s’mores, s