Donna Reycraft Bender, 81, passed away on Sunday, May 21st, 2023, in Akron, Ohio at Summa Hospital, surrounded by her loving family.
Donna was born in Petoskey, Michigan to Hazel (Patrick) and Herbert Reycraft on November 21st, 1941. Donna and her sister Cameron spent the school year living in the Perry Hotel, owned and operated by their parents, and summered at the family cottage at Birch Point, on her beloved Walloon Lake.
Donna attended Petoskey schools through 10th grade, and graduated from Kingswood School Cranbrook, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She received her Associate’s Degree from Randolph Macon College in Virginia, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Design from the University of Michigan, College of Architecture and Design.
Donna married Robert Conger Bender in Petoskey, Michigan in 1963. They resided in Akron, Ohio, and Naples, Florida.
Donna’s volunteer activities included the Junior League of Akron, the Akron Art Museum, the Akron Children’s Hospital Women’s Board, the Akron Garden Club (“AGC”), and the Garden Club of America (“GCA”). She was honored to have been selected as a Floral Design Judge in the Judging Program of GCA for many years. She also served on many Akron boards and was President of the Board of Trustees of the Akron Art Museum from 1995-1997.
Donna’s great artistic skill in floral design, and her passion for gardening and the natural world were recognized in the many awards she received. Included in these were the GCA Flower Arrangement Achievement Award (2013), the GCA Flower Arrangement Award (2003), the Patricia K. Graves Vase (2000, 2012, 2018), the Edna R. Sewell Bowl (2008, 2011, 2015), the Munger Award (2001, 2006, 2018), the Puckett Creativity Award (2015), and the AGC Appreciation Award (2022). In 2022 she also received a Member Years of Service Certificate (40 years) for her artistic and impactful contributions to AGC and the GCA Judging Program.
She is preceded in death by her husband Robert Conger Bender.
She is survived by her children Tracy Bender (Jerry) Wiesner of Hudson, Ohio, Henry G. Bender II of Stowe, Vermont, Victoria Bender (David Drickhamer) of Lakewood, Ohio, and Robert C. (Nadia Laszig) Bender Jr. of Hampton, Virginia; five grandchildren, Owen Wiesner, Jack Wiesner, Charles Bender, Max Bender, and Charlotte Bender. She is also survived by her sister, Cameron Reycraft O’Keefe.
There will be no visitation, but a memorial service is planned for this summer in Petoskey, Michigan. In celebration of Donna’s life, donations may be made to the Little Traverse Conservancy (www.landtrust.org, Tel: 231-347-0991).
Services in care of The Billow Funeral Homes & Crematory, Fairlawn Chapel, 85 N. Miller Road Akron, OH 44333.
To send flowers
to the family, please visit our floral store.