Mrs. Donna L Muller

October 17, 1944February 8, 2021


A Bright Light Has Not Dimmed And Will Shine In Our Hearts

Donna Lee Muller died 2-8-21 suffering the ravages of dementia. Born to Joseph and Maxine Rusackas, she adopted the Brown name after her father came home and died after service as a medic in Normandy when Donna was four years old and Robert, Bob, became her father in 1951.

Donna attended local schools K-12, Santa Barbara Business College, California Polytechnic State College, S.L.O. and Cuesta College. A loving daughter, wife and mother took leave of husband John, son Mark Johnson (Teresa Lara), daughter and family Joni Hall (Kevin and Lupine), sisters-in-law Mary Kimble and Angela Muller, cousins Jean Bowman and Eddie Graves, Charles Rusackas (Robin), Patrick Rusackas (Fran), Richard Brown (Carole), Marci Tappenier, and Charles Brown, nieces and nephews Chris, Patrick, Greg, Eric, Anne and Melanie Muller, Heidi Muller-Boland, Katie Gaulrap, Allison, Andrea and Andrew Muller, Brian Kimble (JoLin and baby Adelin), Evan Kimble (Kory) and their families and friends. Donna is predeceased by her father Joseph Rusackas, parents Maxine and Robert Brown, brothers-in-law Albert and Frank Muller, cousin Joan (Rusackas) Maniscalchi and lifelong friend Virgilia (Eades) Blanchard.

Donna made many friends, among them Barbara Whitlow and Audrey Kolze on her sojourn working in San Diego for Campbell Machine and Pacific Southwest Airlines at age 21, about which her friend Barbara said, “We had such fun times together that I'll never forget. She was my first real buddy at PSA, and I was in awe of how she terrified some of the men we worked with! It was hilarious!” And that is where Donna’s and her future husband, “John Bob’s” paths almost crossed while he was attending MCRD. They were separated by a large runway and an eight-foot fence, finally meeting and marrying in 1971. Donna continued her work career in San Luis Obispo as office manager for Senator Donald Grunsky and Assemblyman William Ketchum and then for Assemblywoman Carol Hallett.

During a hiatus for motherhood Donna volunteered for seven years as an aide at C.L. Smith school and as the very popular “Ice Cream Lady” with her best friends Sandy Anderson and Diane Anthony. She then returned to work for Christy and Ed Sweeney at Louisa’s Place and loved every minute of that experience until she retired. Much of her salary was donated to animal care charities. She once cared for up to eleven cats, most of them “back yard volunteers”.

Special thanks go to Donna’s good friends and neighbors, Barbara Wolcott, whom we all miss, as our Marine Corps League Toys for Tots Coordinator and great companion to Donna, Diane Anthony, for collecting toys, taking Donna out for entertaining rides every Wednesday and for driving out to help “John-Bob” find Donna when she wandered, Ann Grady (David, Lisa and Shannon), Laura Borchard and family, Arna Holland and family who provided many delicious meals, the Louis and Evelyn Verdugo family who all gave their time and love before and during the last years, Terry and Jeri Farrell who befriended and supported us, Walter Hanson of Bishop who prayed for us and finally, to Mary Kimble, John’s younger sister who conducted a one-on-one intervention to obtain memory care placement for Donna and to son Mark who provided much needed respite.

We owe heartfelt thanks to our medical experts and their caring staffs, Deborah Cherry, Robert Price, Daniel Woods, Phillip Kissel, Larry Herron, Matthew Kim, Nathan Wong and Gautam Bhakta, Dignity Care Hospice Nurse Kim and Chaplain Jerry, and the staffs at French Hospital, The Oaks at Nipomo and all the staff at The Village at Sydney Creek and Danny Danbom, who guided us through the admission process and always provided a cheerful greeting and a laugh. To those of you we have missed, you know who you are and we thank you.

We, the family, give thanks to Visiting Angels for sending us a special angel, Lorna Rea, who provided the great companionship, love and womanly friendship so sorely needed in Donna’s life.

Donna dearly loved her kids, cats, gardening, sewing, quilting, lupines, spring and fall trips fishing and exploring the Eastern Sierra, golfing with Sandy Anderson, Toys for Tots and most of all, ELVIS. Donna was dearly loved and will be remembered for her laugh and her sense of humor. Our song was “Cherish”, John’s “Could I Have This Dance” and of course Donna’s were anything by Elvis.

Donna passed as the family was on the way for the last visit and Nurse Carolyn Stewart filled in for us. She held her hand and told her John was singing to her while Elvis was crooning “I Want You! I Need You! I Love You!”

It is sad, but that is what our great nurses and medical staff do for us every day.

Please donate to your favorite charity and give all you meet a smile.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Mrs. Donna L Muller

have a memory or condolence to add?

Gail Miernicki

February 24, 2021

Dear John and Family,
Sorry for your loss, may she rest in peace.
Sincerely, Gail Miernicki

Mary Mendez

February 21, 2021

I had never waited tables, so when I started work at Louisa's place, I heard all about Donna, whom I had not met yet. I made it to the morning shift and was blessed to begin to work with Donna. We became the team to beat. We were two of a kind in so many ways... we threatened to write a tell all book about what goes on behind the counter of a restaurant . We had secrets and notes that Donna kept... we made it through hours of hard work by laughing hard . I loved Donna . She was a tall drink of water. I will cherish my time with her.
For Mark, Joanie and John, she loved you all so deeply ❤.
Thank you for sharing your momma with us. I love you Donna.
Till we meet again.

Audrey kolze

February 19, 2021

Donna and I met working at PSA. Though we worked in different departments of the airline's headquarters in San Diego, we immediately formed a close friendship. We had a lot of laughs together, and both of us being single at the time, once in a while would go country western dancing.

After Donna returned to Santa Barbara, we continued to stay in touch through all the years. In the early 80's, I was able to visit Donna and John for a weekend and we enjoyed reminiscing.

Her passing leaves a huge void in all of our lives, especially her family whom she loved so much. Donna was a very special person who will be fondly remembered and greatly missed.

Audrey Kolze

Pattie Verdugo

February 19, 2021

Dear John, family & friends,
For many she was a major part of your life though out the years sharing high & lows because of her we all remembered to to be kind & watched out for each other even before pandemic.
As her illness progressed we all bonded together even more as we all "walked in her shoes & that of the family". The struggle was tough for all but look at what the challenge has done today-we are gathering to share the many memories that were left in our hearts & mind, not to be forgotten.
This is a time of sadness but also happiness as she's free enjoying her new path that she was called to. So when you see a flower field or listening to one of her favorite tunes or caring for an animal she is beside you.
May the spirit watch over & guide all during this difficult time but remember the "special person" who brought us all together & she'll still live on.

Louis, Evelyn Verdugo & family

Jean Bowman

February 17, 2021

Donna will alway's be in my heart and memories from our childhood and family gatherings. She alway's had that special smile and was so kind and fun. In her memory I will donate to one of my favorite charities K-9 Hero's knowing that she loved animals. My sincere condolences goes out to her family and friends.

Carole Oberlander

February 16, 2021

Donna was a wonderful and talented lady. She was a gifted chef, an animal lover, and most of all a loving wife and mother to her husband, children and her precious granddaughter. She surely must have received her angel wings by now and will live in our hearts forever!