Donna Lee Payne was born at the Richmond Hospital on her mother's birthday, August 13, 1941. She spent her early years living in Hercules Village. Our loving parents valued musical education and provided exposure to great performers and many learning opportunities. By the time Donna graduated from De Anza Vista High School in 1959 (13th in class), she had mastered piano, organ, alto sax, and singing (sweet soprano voice).
On to UC Berkeley, she continued these pursuits, added a year at SF Conservatory of Music for advanced studies in piano and voice, and graduated in 1964 with a BA in Musical Education. In 1965, she moved to Southern California to obtain her teaching credential from Cal State. After four years of teaching K-8 music, although very fulfilling, Donna was ready for a new adventure and returned to San Francisco to enter the travel world with Bon Voyage Travel. She learned quickly and was assigned to S.F. Commonwealth Club account. Donna received high praise as Trip Coordinator on many Singapore/Bali/Indonesia cruises. After a long friendship with the Holland America Musical Director/Band Leader, Jose Magbanua, they married in 1978 and settled back in San Francisco.
Donna seemed to thrive taking hard jobs: Project Coordinator at the Westin St. Francis Hotel for the complete remodel of several banquet rooms, including the iconic Compass Rose Room; Office Manager for RREEF Funds; Coordinated daily store activities for Gump's and assisted management in major remodel.
Music came back with Donna joining the Oakland Symphony Chorus, performing regularly with the Jean Walsh Singers, feature soloist in SF churches, and in a small combo for parties, events, etc. with hubby, Jose, and friends. Sadly in 1986, Jose, missing his extended family chose to return to the Philippines. Donna took a new job as a legal secretary with the Morrison-Foerster Law Firm ("MOFO") and carried on. By the late 90s, she had connected with Robert Cope through a Christian organization, and they were married on April 18, 1998. Donna retired from MOFO. She and Bob purchased a home in Martinez and soon after, a big Winnebago. They happily spent years traveling the highways and byways of the U.S. joined a little later by a fluffy Cocker Spaniel pup, Freckles.
Another "sadly" arrived in the 2000 teens when health issues for both of them began to expand. Bob passed away from a heart attack on Dec. 22, 2016, in the family home. At that time we were moving Donna from Merrill Gardens Assisted Living in Lafayette to the "Young in Heart" facility in Concord as the ravages of Alzheimer's began her long goodbye. There could not have been a more wonderful place for Donna to live out her final years. My family wants to give heartfelt thanks and praise to the proprietors: Aurora and Dimitru Cicai and for the caregivers Coca, Monica, and Anna.
Donna is survived by her brother, Jim Payne of Pinole and many cousins mostly in the Midwest. Predeceased by parents, John W. Payne and Lena "Jerry" Payne, and husband Robert Wendell Cope.
Celebration of life will be held on Saturday, February 8, 2020, at 11:00 AM at the Pinole United Methodist Church, 2000 San Pablo Ave., Pinole, CA. Luncheon to follow immediately after in Gilmore Hall.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Alzheimer's Association and/or Young in Heart at 4070 Siino Avenue, Concord, CA 94521
To plant a tree in memory of Donna Lee Payne-Cope, please visit our tribute store.