Donna M. Breiner

Donna M. Breiner, age 91 of Dubuque, Iowa completed her earthly journey suddenly on February 18, 2020, at UnityPoint Finley Hospital in Dubuque.  To celebrate Donna’s life, a Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, March 7, 2020, at 12:00 p.m. at Steeple Square, 101 East 15th Street, Dubuque, Iowa, 52001 with Pastor Jack Redmond officiating.  Family and friends of Donna’s may gather to visit prior to the service from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. at Steeple Square.  Burial will be in the Center Grove Cemetery in Dubuque.  The Tri-State Cremation Center is humbly serving Donna’s family.


Donna was born on September 4, 1928, in Dubuque, a daughter to Charles I. and Anna E. (Leisch) Kenniker.  She grew up surrounded by family and learned at a very early age the value of caring for others.  The doctors told her to never expect to have children, but after bringing 4 of them into the world, Donna soon realized her mission was to watch over those who couldn’t do so for themselves.  In her early years, she helped care for her younger siblings and intentionally used the time they spent in the orphanage as a stepping-stone which would help solidify her resolve.  She met her adoring husband, Norm Breiner, Sr., on a blind date and the two went on to be blessed with 70 years together, 4 children and many foster children along the way.  Donna’s love for children, especially those who found themselves in difficult circumstances due to no fault of their own, was where she found her greatest drive and desire in life.  Her love was endless and her patience enduring; unless an injustice was at hand.  This continually quiet and loving “half-pint” would morph into a 5-foot stick of dynamite when required.  She reveled in crossing the street for her latest Union dispute, or confronting anyone who believed they could abuse their authority.  Donna saw the world through the eyes of fairness and if the world wasn’t going to present it willingly, she was going to subdue the participants and resolve the issues herself.


Donna and Norm worked diligently and very hard to create a wonderful life for their family to enjoy.  Making the tough choices and living outwardly, as their words inwardly were reflected, brought stability and longevity to the lessons they taught.  She loved having her home full of family, and the holidays were no exception.  The gatherings were all day events and the adults and children alike now possess an abundance of beautiful memories because of them.  Cash was king in the Breiner household (no creditors or credit cards would ever be welcome here) and any shopping trip into town with them was always wrought with potential for an uncomfortable excursion.  Donna just couldn’t understand why after accidentally dropping a huge roll of cash in the middle of the mall, it was time to go.  She simply couldn’t accept that  the world she had worked so hard to make possible for herself and others, just wasn’t the same world that others would choose to walk in.  In retirement, Norm and Donna were able to spend 22 years wintering in McAllen, Texas.  Making many friends along the way and reluctantly resisting when they gradually couldn’t continue on with the tradition due to aging health concerns. 


Donna enjoyed playing cards (wearing out countless decks over the years), watching court tv and listening to her old-time radio programs at night, but her greatest joy and talent was in her story telling.  If you spent any time at all with her, you would inevitably hear the same ones again and again (maybe even a 100 times if you were fortunate enough to be that close with her).  Her rags to riches stories, the importance and benefits of having small and quick hands while working as a young girl on the grenade line at the Savanna Army Depot during the war, continually fighting with the county until they bent to her will, and all the special people she had to work with at Deere’s were among her favorites in the regular rotation.  But, growing up in the bootlegging days always pulled up the anchor position with close family and friends.  A smile and sincere belly laugh was always on the horizon when she pulled out the one about the police knocking on the front door to warn everyone in the neighborhood that they heard Al Capone was coming to town, when unbeknownst to them, he and the boys had arrived hours earlier and were already sitting comfortably in the back parlor relaxing and visiting with the family. 


Donna not only raised her own children and foster kids, but she has also helped raise all of her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  Watching them get older was bittersweet, but thankfully there was always another candidate in the pipeline ready for their turn to be loved, nurtured and adored by the most amazing grandmother you could ever hope to spend your days with.  Children loved her almost as much as she loved spending time with them (even if a weekly Bingo outing was on the list for that evening).  It’s difficult to imagine a world that is now missing this much love for the innocent, but we know that after losing her boys, and her husband last summer, Donna’s only goal was to be next to them again as soon as possible.  After 3 near death incidents, all she prayed for was that the 4th would actually get her home where she belonged.  Our hearts break at the mere thought of not hearing another story from the past, but we also find peace in knowing that all of the struggles this mortal world has presented, and the desire to live in a world which simply doesn’t exist anymore, have all ceased to be a cause for distress any longer, and now peace eternal awaits them all.  Thank you, Donna, for your effortless ability to show everyone around you just how to treat others and may your collection of new stories be in abundance when we see you again.  God bless you and all of our love is forever yours!       


Those left behind to cherish the memory of Donna include,


her 2 adored daughters,

Pamela “Pam” (Frank) Schumacher, Cape Coral, Florida,

and Candace “Candy” (Bill) Kelly, Dubuque, Iowa;


her 10 grandchildren,

Jason (Tricia) Schumacher, Dubuque, Iowa,

Eric (Polly) Schumacher, New Virginia, Iowa,

Brian Schumacher, Des Moines, Iowa,

Sarah Schumacher, Indianola, Iowa,

Wil (Ashley) Kelly, Dubuque, Iowa,

Tiffiny Kelly, Dubuque, Iowa,

Darcy Kelly, Dubuque, Iowa,

Matt (Mandy Wallace) Kelly, Cedar Falls, Iowa,

Melody (Bobby) Coyle, Epworth, Iowa,

and Travis (Nikki Maiers) Breiner, Guttenberg, Iowa;


her 17 great-grandchildren,

Dylan (Kelsey) Schumacher, Abigail Schumacher, Jacob Schumacher, Kyla Schumacher, Ian Schumacher, Skyelynn Schumacher, Addison Schumacher, Everly Schumacher, Parker Wallis, Vanessa Kelly, Shaylynn Kelly, Owen Kelly, Mallory Siegert, Jayden Siegert, Carson Siegert, Kennedy Coyle and Devin Coyle;


her 5 great-great-grandchildren,

Lydia Kelly, Liam Kelly, Echo Bown, Ellie Bown and Enzo Schumacher;


her sister,

Nancy (Bob) Fulsang, Dubuque, Iowa;


along with countless nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family and friends.


Donna was preceded in death by her parents; her loving husband of 70 years, Norman “Norm” Breiner, Sr.; her sons, Norm “Butch” Briener, Jr. and Gary Breiner; and her brothers, Charles Kenniker, Jr., Guy Kenniker, Kenny Kenniker and Kay Kenniker.


Donna’s family would like to thank Dr. Cynthia Konz, along with the doctors, nurses and staff at Finley Hospital Emergency Department for all of their professional and compassionate care and support.


Online condolences may be shared with Donna’s family at

Celebration of LIfe

Steeple Square
101 East 15th Street, Dubuque, Iowa, 52001
March 7th, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Memorial Service

Steeple Square
101 East 15th Street, Dubuque, Iowa, 52001
March 7th, 2020 at 12:00 PM

7 comments on “Donna M. Breiner
  1. Lindsy says:

    Thank you for the many years you helped pam and frank with us as children. Your family is what taught me exactly what that word means “family” Thank you for you love and guidance.

  2. Jody Daggett says:

    Grandma, You helped so many foster grandchildren. I was one of them. It is hard losing you but your now with your husband and children.. God Got an angel.. And we will always carry you in are hearts.. Thank God for letting us meet you and giving us joy.

  3. I am so sorry to hear of the passing of this wonderfully warm woman. I am a friend of Pam Schumacher. Pam, I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. Please know you have a “forever angel”. All of you are in my prayers. Cindy Sand Nielsen, author, “Through My Grandfather’s Eyes: A History and Memories of Union Park, 1891-2011.

  4. Kim Renier says:

    My thoughts are with the Kelly/Schumacher Family during this difficult time.I will always remember my many fond memories in summer on the farm

  5. Sue Tinkham Voels says:

    Absolutely Beautiful, I had chills reading this. Great living tribute Pam! My deepest sympathy to you and your family. *Jack Redmond is my cousin….take care, love Sue

  6. Carla Driscoll says:

    Donna, your life was well lived and your love was abounded. Your legacy will live on in all that were effected by your presence. My condolences to your family that will miss you dearly. Rest In Peace Donna

  7. Pam schumacher says:

    Mom, we luv n miss you already, forever n a day. Your example of loving n compassion for others, influenced all our lives. Your acceptance of all our foster kiddos, no matter what, was admirable and they so appreciated it. You n dad were the best parents ever. The stories, fun times, doins , everything family, dictated how families should live. Enjoy your time with our loved ones until we meet again. Hugs n kisses forever.

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