Donja Lynn Ryan

Donja Lynn Ryan

FEURA BUSH — “Donja Ryan’s last week was mostly peaceful,” her family wrote in a tribute, “but she willed her middle finger to communicate for her a final time, defiantly directing it at the cancer she faced for 20 years (though it might have actually been meant for a relative — jury’s still out on that one).

“She passed on July 10, 2022, at the age of 38, but not before giving us all a piece of her mind and a whole lot of her heart.

“Donja was born on May 2, 1984, and named after a woman her dad, Jon, met while hitchhiking across the country as a teen. Her mother, Tammy, was somehow OK with that decision.

“She blossomed from a cute baby to an antagonistic kid too quickly, according to her older brother, Gordon, who served as her tormentor throughout childhood. Donja’s younger sister, Brittany, was an eager student of her impish ways. The Ryan family would like to issue an apology to everyone in the blast radius of any of their loud and embarrassing spectacles (but mostly to their mom, who was always at ground zero).

“In accordance with family tradition, Donja got pregnant when she was 20, the result of a few months of seduction by a Cassanova (Derek) while in college. They had two daughters, Hanna and later Morgan, and one marriage that eventually got called off. Raising her girls was by all accounts her proudest achievement, a remarkable feat considering how off-kilter Donja and her siblings turned out.

“Donja had a lot to be proud of. She could talk 1,000 miles-per-hour yet slow down enough to be a published poet. She was honest to a fault and a fount of wisdom for her friends and family when they needed the right thing — not the nice thing — to be said.

“She lost more than 100 pounds and inspired scores of others on their health journeys. For years, she was invited to manage hospitality for Millionaire’s Row at the Kentucky Derby. She beat Ecco the Dolphin for the Sega Genesis.

“She also had another daughter! Donja reignited an old flame with James Walker, her high school sweetheart, and embarked on new adventures in love, parenthood, and Ireland. Their baby, Grace, was born shortly after her second cancer recurrence.

“Always bigger than her illness, Donja survived twice as long as doctors predicted and saw Grace take her first steps, speak her first words, and light up the world of everyone she’s met.

“If you were lucky enough to know Donja, you know that the best part of being in her presence was simply the opportunity to talk to her. She was passionate, strong for everyone regardless of how much life was testing her resolve, and cared for her loved ones relentlessly. She was a total b***h and we loved her for it.

“She liked flowers, but Donja loved her family a lot more. If you would like to honor her memory, a fund has been established to help her parents as they raise Grace, whom they adopted at her request:

“Cremation took place through the care of Simple Choices Inc.

“Donja will spend eternity at Jerusalem Cemetery in Feura Bush, New York, near the resting place of her grandparents, who once brought her to Disney World.

“A public celebration of life is not planned, but you better believe there will be a disorderly gathering of the folks who loved her. Be sure to join us in spirit by putting on some Shinedown, sipping an Arnold Palmer, and driving wherever the road decides to take you, Donja-style.

“To leave a special message for the family, please visit:”



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