Donna Bender, R.N.
Donna Bender, 92, 1 of 11 children of Nicholas and Catherine Smarto ,was born in the railroad town of Crestline, Ohio near Mansfield. Her father worked for the New York Central Railroad and her mother was a homemaker. Mother began playing the Piano “by ear” at the age of 4 and later the organ and earned money by playing the Organ at local churches to fund her dream of becoming a nurse. She had wanted to become a nurse for “as long as she could remember”. She graduated from the St. Vincent Charity Hospital School of nursing in Cleveland in 1949. She was an emergency room nurse at St. Vincent Charity from 1949-1967. During that time, she assisted Dr. Victor Ippolito, who was the team physician for the Cleveland Browns. At a diminutive 5 feet tall mother said that “those football players were Giants”.
In addition to her profession, she found time to be a wife and mother. She married Robert Bender after he returned from serving in the Korean War and had 4 children. When the family relocated to Akron from Cleveland in 1967, Donna began working at St. Edwards nursing home first as a floor nurse then later as director of nursing and finally as Asst. administrator during her nearly 40 year career there.She continued to volunteer in the assisted living area at St Edward’s after her “retirement”.
Her career mirrored the evolution of nursing, beginning as a floor nurse and ending as an administrator. She proved, as so many nurses do, that “nurses can do it all-and they can do it better”.
She leaves behind to cherish her memory her son, Frank; daughters, Catherine, Roberta (Harry) Persaud, Elizabeth (William Zavarello); grandchildren, Donna Demauro (Albert), Sarah and Harry Persaud; 2 great-grandchildren, Adriana and Albie Demauro; her brother, Robert Smarto; sisters, Rita Navin and Dorothy Fry; sisters-in-law, Alice Ferfolia and Elaine Peters and many nieces and nephews.
She also leaves behind her best friend, Betty Ovendorf , who has been very supportive since the death of Donna’s husband 7 years ago.
Because of the coronavirus, there will be no calling hours-a Roman Catholic Mass for the immediate family will be held at St. Hilary Catholic Church on Saturday, May 2 followed by interment at Rose Hill Burial Park beside her husband.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Donna Bender Scholarship fund for nursing education established at St. Edwards nursing home to celebrate her 90th birthday just 2 years ago.
After losing her husband of 60 years 7 years ago, Donna was troubled by a recurring dream of being in a long hallway with multiple locked doors and hearing her husband’s voice behind them. A door finally opened and he was waiting there for her. A strong bond of love conquers all, even death.
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