Rev. Donna Lavender

Obituary of Rev. Donna L. Lavender

DONNA L. LAVENDER Reverend Donna LaFrancis Lavender Donna LaFrancis Lavender went home to her Lord on Wednesday, September 8 at Atria Shaker, where she'd been a resident since 2019. Donna, daughter of the late Guy and Grace Woodworth LaFrancis, was born on July 24, 1931 in Burlington, Vermont, and grew up in Poultney, Vermont. She graduated from Poultney High School in 1949 and attended Green Mountain College from 1949-1950. It was there she met the great love of her life, Reverend Melvin DeWitt Lavender, who, while attending a conference at the college, heard music coming from one of the buildings. He went to investigate and found Donna playing the piano. The two were married on August 23, 1950 and were blessed with 62 years together before Melvin's death in 2012. Following their wedding, the couple moved to Valley Falls, NY, where her husband was pastor at the Methodist Church. A gifted musician, Donna had trained since childhood to be a concert pianist, and through the years, shared that talent as organist and choir director at many local United Methodist churches, including Shenendehowa, McKownville, Pawling Avenue, Pine Grove, and Calvary. In addition to her keyboard skills, she studied voice in college and as a young adult. During the 1960's she was a member and featured soloist with the Octavos and the Capital Hill Choral Society. She also served as camp director at Skye Farm for multiple summers. In the early 1980's, after experiencing a calling to ministry, she began summer classes at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. She completed her training in 1987 and then served for 10 years as a local pastor at St. James United Methodist Church in Cohoes, following Melvin's 11 years as pastor of the same church. Together, Donna and Mel served their Lord by sharing His message of love with the congregation and the local interfaith community. During these years she was also very involved with Christian groups beyond the local congregation, including the Walk to Emmaus and the Order of St. Luke. Her kindness and compassion were essential parts of her faith journey, and her genuine interest in people compelled others to share their stories with her. In addition to ministry and music, Donna will be remembered for her other artistic pursuits, notably her writing skills and many craft projects. She also loved Scrabble, pinochle, and trivia games. Her incredibly detailed memory of long forgotten (by everyone but her) events, as well as her quick and often pointed wit remained sharp even as her health declined. She recently started a prayer group at Atria Shaker and took great comfort in sharing this source of her strength with her fellow residents. Donna is survived by four children, Carol Lavender (Ned Depew), Stephen Lavender (Elizabeth), John Lavender (Yvonne), Jonathan Lavender, six grandchildren, Jason Lavender (Mary), Thomas Moriarty (Tara), Timothy Moriarty (Kaelyn), Nathan Lavender, Eli and Jadon Lavender, five great grandchildren, Kailynn, Brecklynn, and Dominick Moriarty, Ethan and Elle Lavender, and numerous nieces and nephews. She is also survived by recently discovered half-siblings, Audrey, Richard, Harry, and Mary; as an only (adopted) child, coming to know her siblings, even late in life, gave her great joy. The family wishes to extend heartfelt thanks and appreciation to everyone at Atria Shaker for providing such loving care to Donna during her time as a resident there. Relatives and friends are invited to attend a memorial service in celebration of the lives of both Melvin and Donna Lavender on Friday, October 8th, 2021, 1:00pm at the Calvary United Methodist Church, 15 Ridge Pl, Latham. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Calvary United Methodist Church at the address above or at www.calvaryumclatham.org. Arrangements have been entrusted by the family to Dufresne & Cavanaugh Funeral Home.
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Friday
8
October

Memorial Service

1:00 pm
Friday, October 8, 2021
Calvary United Methodist Church
15 Ridge Place
Latham, New York, United States

Final Resting Place

Albany Rural Cemetery
Cemetery Avenue
Menands, New York, United States
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