Donna Heath

KNOX — Donna Heath of Knox was a strong and caring woman. She loved the children who rode the school buses she drove, and she made afghans for people in need.

She died unexpectedly on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, at the Gloversville Nursing Home.  She was 72.

She was born in Delanson to Charles Bradt, a mechanic, and Shirley (née Barber) Bradt, a homemaker.  She attended Duanesburg and Berne-Knox central schools and later became a driver for Price Chopper and lastly a school bus driver, initially for Berne-Knox-Westerlo and then for the Guilderland Central School District, from which she retired.

Ms. Heath liked her work as a school bus driver, said her sister, Paula Shafer. “She felt she was a very careful driver. She had an excellent safety record. She enjoyed the kids. She never had a child of her own; she loved the children she drove. She had some tough routes,” said Ms. Shafer, referring to the Hilltown terrain.

Ms. Heath enjoyed many outdoor activities over her life — living at Ballston Lake while married to her first husband, George Heath. They went boating, fishing, and camping throughout New York State.

“She was a good cook,” said her sister. “She knew how to cook outdoors over a campfire.”

Ms. Shafer recalled being out on a boat with Mr. Heath, catching perch. “We’d bring them back and she’d cook them up for dinner,” Ms. Shafer said of her sister.

Ms. Heath enjoyed antique cars, which Mr. Heath liked to restore. She was a past secretary of the Hudson-Mohawk Gas-Up in Gallupville where she volunteered. Ms. Shafer surmised that, although her father died when Ms. Heath was young, she may have gotten her interest in engines from him.

Mrs. Heath was an exceptional knitter and crocheted beautiful afghans and coverlets for those in need of comfort covers. “She made afghans for people who needed them like my mother with Alzheimer’s or a cousin with cancer,” said Mrs. Shafer. She also knit for joyous occasions, making “infant things” for Mrs. Shafer’s daughter and son. “I have many of her afghans in my home,” said Ms. Shafer.

“She was giving and had a big heart and fought courageously through disabling times of recent,” her sister concluded.” Donna will be remembered by those close to her as having fortitude, a good sense of humor, and very strong character — a truly independent person.”


Donna Heath is survived by her sister, Paula Shafer, and her sister’s husband, Bernie Sisson; her nephew, Gregory Sokaris and his wife, Bessie; her great niece and great nephew, Georgia and Peter Gregory Sokaris, and her niece Faith Sisson. She is also survived by her cousin, Jack Bradt, who became a great connection for her in recent years.

She will lie beside her father, Charles Bradt, in Grove Cemetery in Delanson. Her mother, Shirley (née Barber) Bradt Shafer, also died before her.

Her family thanks “the various ambulance squads who came to her aid as well as Holly and Digger Busch, Kay, and many friends who helped her along the way” and gives a special thanks to her two cousins, Shirley Gage and her husband, Lewellyn, and Shirley Gage-McKean “who were always there for her.”

A private interment and ceremony were held according to her wishes; the Reverend Timothy Van Heest officiated. The family thanks David Mura of the White-Van Buren Funeral Home in Delanson and especially Lenny Van Burden.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Grove Cemetery Association, Post Office Box 114, Delanson, NY 12053.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

More Obituaries

  • Henry Brezinski

    BERNE — Henry Brezinski, a long-time, beloved superintendent of the Berne-Knox-Westerlo schools, died peacefully from natural causes on Jan 7, 2021 he was 95.

    He was born in Lebanon, New Hampshire on Nov. 3, 1925.

  • GUILDERLAND — Ernest “Ernie” Rau — who was proud of his children and taught them the value of hard work — died peacefully on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. He was 71.

    “Ernie had farming in his blood and loved working with animals and being in nature,” his family wrote in a tribute.

  • EAST BERNE — Philip K. Willsie skillfully moved earth for a living, and moved heaven and earth for his family. He died on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. He was 84.

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.