Donna Ahrens – UPDATED


A Celebration of Life for 93-year old Donna Ahrens is this Saturday, July 16, 2022, at 4:00 at the Open Door Church about 15 miles south of Chadron off Hwy 385 at 1350 Table Road.

Everyone is cordially invited to bring memories to share. A meal will be held and please bring a pie to share, if you are able.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Hay Springs Volunteer Fire Department. 

Donna Ahrens passed away May 25, 2021.

Private family services for Donna Ahrens were held last year. Donna’s wish was to be cremated and it was fulfilled.

Online condolences may be left at

Donna Marie Ahrens was born in Utica, NE on July 17, 1927 to Alvin George and Leona Geraldine (Lebeck) Greenwood. She passed away in Crawford, NE on May 25, 2021. 

Donna grew up in Utica, NE, but graduated from York High in 1944 at the young age of 16. She then attended Chadron Normal School, now Chadron State College, and became a teacher.

Her first teaching position was District 100, north of Hemingford when she was only 17 years old. She taught in many different rural schools in western Nebraska and also taught at many schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She loved teaching; even after she retired she volunteered as a teacher’s aide for many years.

Donna married Donald Francis Gowin in 1948. They later divorced, but not before they had two daughters, Lyla and Louise. In 1960 Donna married Herbert Erich Louie Ahrens and they raised three daughters: Stephony, Gretchen and Heather. 

Donna guided many women throughout her life. Two women, though not her birth daughters, are considered as belonging to the family: Vana Bannan, with whom Donna taught at Loneman School for many years; and Robin Wilson, who provided care for Donna late in her life.

Donna taught both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. She taught people to knit, crochet, embroidery and to grow houseplants. 

Donna belonged to many organizations – including: Bible study classes, quilting clubs, The Red Hat Club and extension club (a 50-year member). 

She enjoyed gardening, swimming and reading. In her later years she was very thankful for the books on tape program, which enabled her to listen to books, since she could no longer read due to macular degeneration. 

Donna is survived by her daughters Louise (Dave) Hitchcock of Brighton, CO; Steph (Rob) Reed of Fremont, NE; Gretchen (Jay) Lees of Chadron; Heather Ahrens of Hay Springs; Vana (Tom) Bannan of Chadron; Robin (Loren) Wilson of Hay Springs; nine grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and 5 great-great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her younger sister, Helen (Bob) Kriz of Surprise, Arizona. 

Donna was preceded in death by her husband, Herb; eldest daughter, Lyla Gowin Whitehouse; granddaughter Brittany Laura Koehn; her parents; brother Robert Greenwood of Bellwood; her sisters Betty Hemmingson of Denver, Dorothy Johnson of York, and Ila Mae Greenwood of Utica who died as a toddler.

Chamberlain Chapel in Chadron is in charge of arrangements for Donna Ahrens.