Donna Canter Dilley

May 1, 1961September 12, 2020

Donna Canter Dilley died September 12, 2020 surrounded by her family in Aurora, Colorado.

A memorial service was held Tuesday at 3 PM outdoors at the Dechairo Home, 40898 County Road 13, Fort Collins, Colorado.

A celebration of life will be held on Monday, September 21 at 3 pm at Big R Orchard. The directions to the venue are as followed: From US Highway 421, exit 285, go south on Brushy Mountain Road approximately 7 miles. At Bethany Church Road, veer slightly right and continue to second paved drive on left. Look for Big R Orchard sign. Follow drive past Apple House and continue to end of driveway.

Celebration of her life will be held at a later date in Virginia.

Donna was born May 1, 1961, in Wilkesboro, North Carolina to Edith and Don Canter.

Donna was a cheerleader at West Wilkes High School and graduated in 1979. She met John Dilley, the love of her life, at a wedding in Boone, NC, and they were married on May 22, 1985. She graduated from Lynchburg College in 1988.

Donna and John lived in Salem, Virginia for 30 years and raised two daughters, Ursula and Natalie. For 20 years she directed the Roanoke chapter of the National League of Junior Cotillions. She adored her hundreds of students and remembered every one by name.

They moved to Colorado in 2013 and fell in love with the land and the mountains and the big sky and the native fauna. Donna was a devout Christian and loved to worship with Hope Community Fellowship.

She was a fearless adventurer, a warm caregiver, an irrepressible source of joy and fun and an instant friend to everyone she met.

Donna is survived by her husband John; her father Don Canter; her daughter Natalie Dilley-Conley and her husband Geoff; her grandchildren Akela, Madison, and Dylan Conley; her daughter Ursula Dilley; her sister, Kay Barnett and her husband Mike; her brother Brent Holloway and his wife Anita; her brother Bobby Holloway and his wife Renaugh; her sister (niece) Angie Brehm and her husband Andy; dearly beloved in-laws, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and so many precious friends; and her devoted 14-year-old poodle Ruby.

She was preceded in death in 2006 by her mother, Edith Canter.


  • Celebration of Life

    Monday, September 21, 2020


Donna Canter Dilley

have a memory or condolence to add?

DebraAnn Grimes

September 24, 2020

John--we are so sorry for your loss of Donna. We loved knowing both of you for the fifteen years that we did our NLJC program, and enjoyed seeing you at all of the NLJC conventions. Our thoughts, hearts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. Sincerely, and with Cotillion love, DebraAnn and Garry Grimes, Paris, Tennessee.

Patricia Macdonald

September 20, 2020

John, Ursula and Natalie, We were heartbroken to hear about Donna. She had a wonderful smile that always made us happy and she held our neighborhood together when you lived here in Salem, always letting us know when a neighbor needed help. We hold many fond memories of our kids playing together when they were young and we have missed you since you moved. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Love, Neil, Pat and Clare Macdonald

Carol Elmore

September 15, 2020

John, Ursula, Natalie - My heart is with you all. Donna was such a special, fun, loyal, faithful person. We loved her at Oak Grove Church of the Brethren, and we love you too! I will be praying and remembering you all.

Elizabeth Heil

September 15, 2020

It is with deep sadness that I remember the days I spent with my dear Donna Dilley ... a friend who brought such joy and pleasure to so many. Her kindness and intelligence graced so many of us neighbors here in Salem Virginia. Her passing reminds me how important it is to give. She gave unselfishly to many young adults the skills for being good in how to be kind adults. As a neighbor we all marveled at her home and how she would have elegant parties with gracious conversations and tasty foods. We traveled and visited her homeplace by Grandfather mountain and my place in Louisville all the while laughing and learning. You will indeed be missed and never forgotten dear Donna. Dearest John Ursula and Natalie ... thank you for sharing your best friend with us.

Lisa Flathers

September 15, 2020

Donna was a beautiful sweet soul!!! She was an excellent Cotillion Director whom I loved seeing at conventions. She will be missed!
Thoughts and prayers to the family.
Lisa Flathers
Lubbock, Texas

robert Pannell

September 15, 2020

My heart is broken for you and your family. From what I found out from Leah, you too were so happy in Colorado. I am not sure you know where to turn next.

I wanted you to know, I am thinking of you in this time and though I cannot help, I do care.


Cristina Flippen

September 14, 2020

I first met Donna when she had my children at Junior Cotillion in Roanoke, VA. I was so impressed with her sweet nature, gracious manner, and patience. She was able to turn reluctant pre-teens and teens to graceful and courteous young adults. Later, when I was the principal at Oak Grove Elementary, Donna taught our fifth graders ballroom dancing which became a cherished tradition. Through all her encounters, she always had a smile on her face and the utmost of patience. My deepest condolences on this sad loss of your beautiful mom and wife.

Melanie Steinle

September 14, 2020

I met Donna in the mid 80s working at the Cancer Center in Roanoke, Va. Absolutely a lovely person running in at the last minute, keys in one hand and an ink pen in the other! Always smiling and laughing but most days late for work!!
In 1985 my husband and I bought our first dog, a Dachshund puppy named Oscar. We didn’t really want to take him to Marks parents for Thanksgiving,they didn’t care for dogs. DONNA said she and John would keep him for the 3 day weekend. We took him to their house and they had a huge white dog and I think a cat.
We left Oscar and went on our trip to the Asheville area. No cell phones, leashes or collars, no rules.
We get back to their house on Sunday. She said Oscar loved his first hike in the mountain trails. No leash mind you!! 4 months old!!
She said as they were driving back to their house in Salem she felt Oscar behind her back. He had chewed several holes in her sweatshirt!!
As I thanked her for keeping him and offered to pay for another sweatshirt, she laughed uncontrollably!
And that’s the Donna I remember...

Our deepest sympathies to John, Ursula and Natalie and their families at this sad time .,,

Gale Moore

September 14, 2020

John, Ursula and Natalie,

My thoughts and heart are with you at this very sad time. Your wife and mother was a great friend to me and I will miss her joy and kindness immeasurably . John, so thankful for the treasured memories of sharing with you and Donna the Crested Butte wildflower hikes , Marble, CO, the Denver Eagles concert , and that beautiful snowshoe hike in Rocky Mountain. Donna loved you all so very much. May her love sustain you as you mourn her loss My prayers are with you

Gale Moore

Becky Craven Gresham

September 14, 2020

I remember Donna from West Wilkes. She was always smiling and had such a caring spirit and filled with joy.
I am so sorry for your loss.


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