Donny was born when I was 17, on the tail end of a divorce, with a 2 year old son, Jack. I was a single mom until I married Joe Manning when Donny was 12. Joe is the one who raised Donny to be the man he became. Donny was very gentle and very sensitive …when he turned 9, (8/23/1980) he pulled me aside during his birthday party and asked if it was “the” day. I replied “I think it is”. He was thrilled to have a sibling born on his birthday. As it turned out, we had a girl we named Sonni. Donny fed and burped her; and even changed diapers! After Sonni was born, every time we went for a diaper run I looked at one particular summer dress for myself ($19.99), but it never went on sale. So imagine my surprise when for Mother’s Day, 1981 my 9 year old son handed me a box and said Happy Mother’s Day. I opened the box and there was the dress. I asked him where he had gotten the money, he told me he sold bike parts and had been doing odd jobs during the summer and that his Grandma Jividen helped him buy the dress when I wasn’t looking. I proudly wore that dress on my honeymoon in 1982 when I married his step father, Joe. Donny and I didn’t always see eye to eye on things. After a long absence he reached out to me in December 2012. We discussed his questions regarding a father he never knew. He told me of the trials and issues going on in his own home and his search for peace. He told me how much he loved me and how grateful he was to Joe for showing him there was a God, how to be a good husband, a good father, to treat people with respect and dignity, and that hard work never hurt anyone. We all hugged and cried and Donny left our home happy and at peace and I’m grateful for that. Proof that my son had grown up to be an awesome man. He passed away due to heart disease, which runs in my family. His grandmother passed away due to congestive heart failure. My one regret is he didn’t get to meet his nephew, Jaxon, who looks just like his Uncle Donny and acts just like his Uncle Jack. He leaves behind many people who loved him, including but not limited to the families of: Kathy Jividen; Bert and Elsie Manning; Kathy and Joe Manning (Mother/Step Father); Ken Ritchie (Father); Jack Ritter Jr. (Kayleigh); Suzun Ritter (Cisi, Kevin, Shayla); Danielle McKechnie (Marc and Jordan); Joe Manning Jr. (Sarah and Josie), Sonni Hernandez (Dakota, Jess, Jaxon).
“You only have one life to live, but if you do it right, once is enough.”