Donna Dean Bowden Lytle was born June 2, 1932, to Evelyn Gwen McGhie Bowden and Edward Dean Bowden in Beaver, Utah. Donna’s young life did not go without sadness. When she was only seven, her father was killed in an automobile accident. Her mother then moved to Caliente, Nevada, to find work in order to raise her three children and to be closer to her parents and siblings. For years as Gwen worked in the 93 Club, the McGhie family, along with the close-knit community of Caliente, helped look after Donna and her sister Carla to ensure they had a happy, fun-filled life. Their brother Ken Bowden was six years older than Donna. Since several in the family held jobs with the Union Pacific Railroad, Donna and Carla took exciting trips to Las Vegas and Los Angeles on the train to visit relatives and often went back to Beaver, Utah, to spend summers with their other grandmother.
In her youth, Donna was an excellent softball player and a good athlete. Her uncle Ralph Smeath coached both Donna and Carla, along with their cousin Shirley Buck. Unfortunately, during the 1940s, girls did not play sports much beyond the middle school years. It was during these younger years when Donna met her lifelong best friend Virginia Forsyth. The two would remain inseparable throughout their lives.
Donna attended Lincoln County High School and often talked about those years with warm hearted memories. She was popular and well liked among her peers and always expressed her respect and fondness for her teachers, especially Prof Wilcox. Donna was active as a cheerleader, band majorette, and officer of various clubs and was chosen as a state F.H.A. officer, Girl’s State Representative, Prom Attendant, Sweetheart Ball Attendant, and as the head of various committees.
It was during these high school years, however, when Donna’s sweet mother Gwen would be diagnosed with cancer and be forced to leave her loving family without a parent’s love. Ralph and Faye (Gwen’s sister) Smeath did not hesitate to take Donna and Carla into their loving home at #20 on Company Row and to make them official members of their close-knit family. Ken, Donna, and Carla never forgot the close bond they shared with the entire McGhie family, but especially that forever closeness they had with the Smeaths.
When Donna was in high school, Kenny Lytle caught her eye, and they became inseparable. Upon graduation, Donna left for Salt Lake City, Utah, to attend nursing school. Shortly after she began her studies, Kenny called her home to become his wife. Donna came home, worked for a while at the Caliente hospital as a nurse, and then married Kenny in a lovely ceremony at the Lytle Ranch in Eagle Valley on March 9, 1951. Virginia, who served as the maid of honor, altered and embellished her own prom gown so that Donna could have a beautiful wedding dress. Ken and Donna began their new life in the upstairs of the house of Kenny’s grandmother.
For the next 65 years, Kenny and Donna lived happily in that same house where they raised three daughters, Tona, Kena, and Lynn. In the early days of their marriage, Donna became a true ranching partner with her husband, had her own horse, and often accompanied Kenny and his dad Roy in gathering and working cows. On many occasions, Kenny’s lifelong friend Pete Delmue and his wife Marlene would join Ken and Donna. Marlene recalls that these were some of the best days of her life – – she and Donna would pack a picnic lunch, and the four of them would drive cows all day, while enjoying the great outdoors.
Donna was a people person; she loved to visit. Throughout her life she was always happy and was rarely seen without a smile on her face and a kind word for those around her. Donna spent her entire life serving others as she worked as a nurse in the Pioche hospital, assisted children in the school district as a bus driver and an aide, helped raise her three children and six grandchildren, taught primary, volunteered at Pioche Elementary, and became the “go-to” nurse for generations as she fashioned the best butterfly bandages for over 50 years.
Donna was happiest with a baby in her arms. She unconditionally loved her children and grandchildren with a fierce loyalty and devoted much of her life supporting them. Diligently, she and Kenny followed the children and grandchildren to endeavors across the country. She loved to watch and support Brad and Jason in their rodeo events and the girls and Brad in their sporting events. Donna could always be seen with a score sheet in her hands and could be heard yelling loudest in the stands. She especially loved senior night when the grandchildren were honored on the court or field and she got to accompany them in the ceremony. There was never a more loyal or selfless person.
Donna loved hummingbirds, flowers, treating children to frozen ice-cream treats in her freezer, and the color purple. She kept every greeting card she was ever given. She will best be remembered as Gram by her family, Grandma Donna by her nieces and nephews, and Gabby by her beloved friend Virginia. She was definitely one of God’s angels.
Donna was preceded in death by her parents, siblings, and her loving husband Kenny. She is survived by her sister-in-law LaRue Walker; her children Tona Lytle (Michelle Martin), Kena (Pat) Gloeckner, and Lynn (Mick) Lloyd; seven grandchildren Brad, Jason, and Lacie Lloyd, Kylee and Kourtney Gloeckner, Kori (Colton) Cole, and Michael Martin; four great grandchildren Lainey, Rowdy, and Weston Lloyd and Cayston Cole; and countless nephews and nieces whom she thought the world of.
A Memorial Service will be held at the Pioche LDS Church on Friday, February 8 at 1 p.m.
Arrangements are under the direction of Southern Nevada Mortuary. Online condolences can be made at www.snmortuary.com.