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1941 Donna 2023

Donna Story

December 15, 1941 — October 31, 2023

In Loving Memory of Donna Rae Story

December 15, 1941 - October 31, 2023


It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing of our beloved wife and mother, Donna Rae (Harwager) Story, who left this world on October 31, 2023, at the age of 81. She departed peacefully, surrounded by her loving family, after a courageous battle with an acute illness.  

Donna Rae was born on December 15, 1941, in a sod house on a homestead north of Arnold, Nebraska to her parents, Leo and Florence (Whipple) Harwager. 

She was raised in Arnold and attended a one-room schoolhouse, Hall School, until the 8th grade before proceeding to the schoolhouse in town to attend high school before graduating in the class of 1959, with her high school sweetheart and her future husband, James (Jim) Edward Story.  In the early dating days, Jim wasn’t permitted by her parents to take her out on dates until the milk cows were tended and they often spent their nights at the dance halls across the Sandhills.  Donna was a waitress at Archie’s Cafe and kepts books at the Connor Implement growing up in Arnold.

Jim and Donna Rae were wed on January 21, 1961, at the Methodist Church in Arthur, Nebraska.  They started their married life as he worked at the Flying A Cattle Company and Smith Farms in Arnold, Nebraska and the couple welcomed five children:  Randy, Brian, Kelli, John, and Bob. Donna Rae spent her early days as a homemaker, supportive ranch wife, and mother to many.  

In 1969, Jim and Donna moved to Coon Rapids, Iowa where they raised their kids and worked for the Garst Cattle Company.  She supported the community by continuing the operations of the local bowling alley, and followed Jim to Delta Junction, Alaska to live for almost a year. Before relocating back to Stapleton, Nebraska in 1999,  she became a certified 18-wheel truck driver, alongside her husband, for Lacaeyse Transport based in Grinnell, Iowa for over 15 years.  The roadside adventures were a joy for Donna Rae to spend quality time traversing the country with Jim by her side from oceans, mountains, and everywhere in between. All the travels inspired her to often say, “I’ve been everywhere I wanted to go and some places I never knew I needed to see.”  Her and Jim’s return home to Nebraska is inspired by her love for the Nebraska Sandhills.  In Donna Rae’s words, “Once a Nebraska Sandhill girl, you’re always a Nebraska Sandhills girl.” 

Family was Donna Rae’s number one priority and her life centered around them as their world centered around her.  She was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, sister-in-law, aunt, and friend to all who met her, leaving an indelible mark on all those who had the privilege of knowing her. Throughout her life, Donna Rae was known for her unwavering love, kindness, and generosity. She dedicated herself to her family, making countless sacrifices to ensure their happiness and well-being. Her nurturing spirit and boundless love will be remembered by all who were fortunate enough to be a part of her life. 

Donna Rae was a woman of many talents and interests. She enjoyed traveling, cooking for family, adventures (from exploring caves, riding rollercoasters, parasailing, swimming with sharks, touring the Louvre museum, sailing the Great Ocean Reef, and so much more!), winning at video poker, an avid reader and crossworder, mesmerized by fireworks and Christmas lights, cheering on Nebraska volleyball and football, and watching the annual sandhill crane migration.  She especially found joy and cherished each and every holiday season with her husband and family. She shared her knowledge and enthusiasm with those around her, making lasting memories through shared experiences.

The memory of Donna Rae will live on in the hearts of all who loved her. She will be remembered for her warm smile, her gentle touch, her no-nonsense approach, and her ability to make even the darkest days seem brighter. Her spirit will continue to inspire us to be better, more loving individuals. She is and will always be remembered as an amazing lady.

Those that survive Donna Rae include her husband, James Story with whom she shared 62 years of marriage filled with love and devotion; children: Randy (Tami) Story of Alta, Iowa; Brian Story of Willliams, Iowa; Kelli (Kim) Reis of Webster City, Iowa; John (Janelle) Story of Cheyenne, Wyoming; Bob (Brandy) Story of North Platte, Nebraska; her grandchildren: Amy Reis of Zionsville, Indiana; Chelsie (Dustin) Kopaska of Guthrie County, Iowa; Jordan (Nick) Wonderlin of Lexington, North Carolina; Logan (Dexter) Hanson of Round Rock, Texas; Izaac Reis of Leesburg, Virginia; Macey (Ethan) Budke of North Platte, Nebraska; Delaney (Nick) Meyer of LeMars, Iowa; Taylor (Scot) Simons of Panora, Iowa; Garett (Skye) Story of North Platte, Nebraska; Chenoa (James) Gradert of Sheldon, Iowa; Gabe Story of Nevada, Iowa; Matthew (Jordan) Story of Dunbar, West Virgina; Samuel (Nathan) Story of North Platte, Nebraska; 13 great-grandchildren; sister and brothers-in-law: LaVon Harwager of Arnold, Nebraska; Anita Harwager of Stapleton, Nebraska; David Harkins of North Las Vegas, Nevada; Jerry and Sharon Story of Fairbanks, Alaska; Jan Coble of California; as well as numerous relatives and friends who will deeply miss her presence.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Leo and Florence Harwager; her siblings: Marilyn, Bill, Jack, Dan, and Dean Harwager; sisters-in-law: Karen Harwager; Jody Harvey; and brother-in-law: Ron Harvey; and great-granddaughter: Rynleigh Story. 

A private family memorial service will be held to celebrate the life of Donna Rae Story in Arnold, NE. Online condolences may be left for the family at ( In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations be made to the Arnold Cemetery in her honor (via Govier Brothers Mortuary in Broken Bow, Nebraska) and sympathy cards may be sent to PO Box 176, Stapleton, NE 69163.



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