Gwen Lee (Hammersland) McDonald, 63, died April 15, 2021, in Ketchikan.
She was born Gwen Lee Hammersland on June 28, 1957, in Decorah, Iowa.
She attended South Winneshiek Comunity Schools, graduating in 1975, and then attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, through 1977. She transfered to the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, and graduated in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education.
She taught special needs preschool in Clinton, Iowa, from 1980 through 1982, and in New Ulm, Minnesota, from 1982 to 1984. In 1984, she graduated with a Master of Arts from Mankato State University in Mankato, Minnesota, and moved to Ketchikan.
She was employed as a special needs preschool teacher in Ketchikan, in addition to working as an assisted living provider and adjunct professor for early childhood education at the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus. She also assisted clients through the SAIL programs in Ketchikan.
She was a member of First Lutheran Church.
Gwen McDonald enjoyed sewing clothing, bunnies, dolls and bears; quilting; craft projects and interiors designing; and playing the flute and piano.
“Gwen authored many entertaining, lengthy letters which she shared with family and friends,” her family writes. “She tried to keep in touch with everyone, no matter what the physical distance was.
“Gwen is affectionately remembered for the joy and laughter that she brought to so many,” her family writes. “She truly enjoyed creating the preschool talent shows and holiday programs where she helped her students ‘shine.’ Outside of the classroom, Gwen was always a caretaker for all ages in need of her attention. Gwen was very brave for all of the challenges in her life.”
Mrs. McDonald was preceded in death by her father, Harold H. Hammersland; grandparents, Harold M. and Agnes Hammersland, and Ray and Olea Kenyon; and brothers-in-law, Thomas Torres Sr. and Mark Jack.
She is survived by her husband, Roger McDonald; stepdaughters, Jessika (Leslie) Verney, Kelly (Tracy) Brown, and Taylor (Owen) Lee; mother, Gladys Hammersland of Ossian, Iowa; sisters, Thea (Bob) Adams of Buffalo, Minnesota, Beth Hammersland-Torres of Ketchikan, and Nena Jack of Seattle; brothers, Eric (LuAnn) Hammersland of Sedalia, Missouri, Leon (Anna) Hammersland of Festina, Iowa, and Neil (JoAnn) Hammersland of Hawkeye, Iowa; nephews and nieces, Henry (Shoko) Adams, Shanna (Jason) Preul, Lisa (Brian) Schadler, Brent (Ashley) Bushman, Jessie and Nicole Bushman, Bret (Amber) Hammersland, Sara Cardwell, Jamie (Amy) Hammersland, Dustin (Kerri) Hammersland, Brice (Callie) Hammersland, Dillon (Jennie) Hammersland, TJ Hammersland-Torres, Antoinina (Cody) Hammersland-Hazel and Logan Hammersland; and extended family, Jean Mendenhall, and Celia, Sierra and Sienza Chandler.
A memorial service will be held at a later time.
Mrs. McDonald’s remains will be intered at the Stavanger Luthern Church Cemetery in Ossian.