Dona Marie O’Berry

Dona Marie O’Berry, 94, of Orlando, Florida, died Monday, June 24, 2024. Born in Marion, South Carolina, she was the daughter of Donald Robert Jones and Mary Marie Hucks Jones.

Originally from Horry County, SC, Dona Marie was reared in Tampa, Florida. Dona Marie enjoyed recalling childhood memories such as going for walks on Bayshore Boulevard, and catching the streetcar just outside the house where she lived on Tampa Street to go downtown with her friends to watch movies at Tampa Theatre – for only a dime. She would also talk of her family being able to buy produce and deviled crabs from street vendors that would go by her family’s home. She spent her childhood summers at her maternal grandmother’s (“Big Mama” Rosa Byrd Hucks) Huckslin Inn at Myrtle Beach, SC, during the 1930s and 40s. During her childhood, she also lived in Baltimore, MD, and Morganton, NC.

She graduated from Tampa’s Sacred Heart Academy in 1947, where she sang in the choir and played on the basketball team and played a male role in her senior class play, and Florida State University in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Dona Marie met her husband, Philip Charley O’Berry, on a blind date, arranged by one of his Coast Guard friends. She was an elementary school teacher at Dale Mabry Elementary School in Tampa, FL, until she married on December 20, 1952; at Elizabeth City Elementary School in Elizabeth City, NC; and at Temple Terrace Elementary School in Temple Terrace, FL, where she also was assistant principal. She specialized in teaching gifted children, and especially enjoyed teaching language arts and American History, and reading aloud to her students. In Tampa, she was also a member of Oak Grove United Methodist Church, teaching Sunday School, participating in ladies’ circles and leading children’s choirs. When once asked what she would have done as a career had she not been a teacher, she said, “I would have loved to be an opera singer.” She used her beautiful singing voice to sing praises to her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, at the numerous churches of which she was a member during her lifetime. She was also a member of Eastern Star.

She retired from teaching in 1975 and moved to Dade City, FL, where she helped with the renovation and interior design of an 1879 family home that sat on 48 acres. There, she attended First United Methodist Church. In 1977, she moved to Anna Maria, Fl, having owned a vacation home since 1973. She relished living in the beach environment and became real estate agent and developer in Anna Maria, FL, in the early 1980s with her husband. There, she attended Roser Memorial Church and later became a member of Island Baptist Church. In1988, she retired to St. Cloud, FL, and then to Kissimmee, FL, where she was a member of First United Methodist Church St., Cloud, where she was a Sunday School teacher and Bible study leader.

Dona Marie enjoyed playing cards with family and playing Bridge with her peers. Family was most important to her and for 20 years she hosted many family members at her second home in the ski community of Beech Mountain, NC, where she also enjoyed traveling throughout the neighboring mountain communities, especially enamored with the dogwood and rhododendron blossoms in the spring and the palette of autumn colors of the trees she did not get to see in Florida.

Dona Marie was a delightful conversationalist who was very personable and hospitable. She loved decorative arts and cared about the environment in which she and her family lived, creating homes into which her husband and children were proud to bring friends and family. She once enjoyed oil painting with her husband and had an appreciation for the finer things in life and imbued her children with this quality. She loved fine jewelry, flowers, fine china, crystal, pewter and silver wares, and music — including playing piano.

Dona Marie was predeceased by her parents, her husband, and her first-born son, Philip Kyle O’Berry; and her only brother-in-law who was like a brother to her for more than 50 years, Robert William Gee.

Survivors include son Donald Kerry O’Berry and his wife, Lynn Ellen Bunch O’Berry, of Annandale, VA; and their offspring, Dona Marie’s grandson, Cameron Scott O’Berry, and his wife Julianne Elizabeth Englund O’Berry, and Dona Marie’s great-grandchildren, Hayes Cameron O’Berry, June Capri O’Berry, and Noah Daniel O’Berry, all of Coatesville, PA; Dona Marie’s granddaughter Kelsey Jane O’Berry Martinez and her husband Richard Ariel Martinez, of Midland, VA; and Dona Marie’s grandson, Ryan Jordan O’Berry, and his wife, Autumn Catherine Chestnut O’Berry, of Woodstock, GA.

Survivors also include Jeffrey Kent O’Berry and his husband, Thomas Alan DeVol, of Sarasota, FL. Also surviving is Dona Marie’s only daughter, Denise Marie O’Berry Smith, and her husband, Curtis Wayne Smith, of Orlando, FL; and their offspring, Dona Marie’s grandson, Christian Philip Smith, of Montreat, NC, another grandson, Jesse David Smith, and his wife Bekah Dawn Johnson Smith, of Orlando, FL; and Dona Marie’s great-granddaughter, Hazel Jean Smith; and Dona Marie’s granddaughter, Sarah Elizabeth Smith Tucker, and her husband Samuel Paul “Sam” Tucker, and Dona Marie’s great-granddaughters, Arden Elise Tucker and Amelia Rei “Millie” Tucker; and another grandson, Benjamin Curtis Smith, of Orlando.

In addition, Dona Marie is survived by the widow of her first son, Kyle, Victoria Bee Vause O’Berry, and Dona Marie’s granddaughter, Hannah Marie O’Berry, both of Rutherfordton, NC.

Dona Marie is also survived by her only sibling, sister Mary Helen Gee of Anna Maria, FL; and Mary Helen’s offspring, Dona Marie’s nephew, Donald Robert Gee, and his wife, Joan Elisabeth “JoBetty” Clancy Gee, of Atlanta, GA; Dona Marie’s nephew, William Scott Gee, and his wife Tammie Marie Wade Gee, of Cottontown, TN; and Dona Marie’s niece, Shelley Marie Gee Calhoun, and her husband, Jeffrey Wilton Calhoun, of Houston, TX.

Dona Marie’s beloved nieces and nephews from her husband’s siblings include Ruth Ponsell, of Madison, FL; William Howard “Billy” Shytle, of Lacoochee, FL; Donna Leigh O’Berry Campbell, of Dade City, FL; Cynthia Harris Ogle, of Greenwood, IN; and Evelyn Harris, of Ridge Manor, FL. Other nieces from Dona Maries’s husband’s siblings who predeceased her were Charlotte Marie Mathis Carpenter, of Trilby, FL; Sylvia Joyce Mathis Whitten, of Lakeland, FL; Kaye Harris Anderson of Thomson, GA; and Phyllis Cynthia Shytle, of Lacoochee, FL.

The family would like to thank Sylvia Whitten (posthumously) and her daughter, Dianne “Dee Dee” Joyce Whitten, of Lakeland, FL, for their loving support of Dona Marie in her later years; Martha “Martie” Tucker, of Orlando, for tender, loving friendship and companionship; Mary Craig,of Orlando, for faithful friendship and visits; and Lynette Ports, of Orlando, FL, for being Dona Marie’s loyal and understanding caretaker in Dona Marie’s final years.

When one lives as long as Dona Marie did, dear friends are especially cherished support. For Dona Marie, these included Martha Gorman and Marilyn Cornish, of Kissimmee, FL, and Shirley Norris of Orlando, FL.

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