Cover photo for Donna Jean Turnley's Obituary
Donna Jean Turnley Profile Photo
1963 Donna 2023

Donna Jean Turnley

October 7, 1963 — October 22, 2023

Donna Jean Turnley, a beloved wife, mother, sister, aunt, teacher and friend, passed away at home on Oct. 22. She is survived by her husband Martin, daughter Erin, son David, brothers Gary and Mark Walker and their wives, mother-in-law Katherine Hubbard, brothers-in-law Glen Turnley and John Rich, and by her nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

Growing up in Utah with parents Don & Jean Walker, her Uncle Val and Aunt Honey, and her Grandma and Grandpa Smith, she was part of a family that was rooted locally for most of her life. Her mother Jean was born in England and added a calming demeanor to the family and was a centering force for most of Donna Jean’s life.

Donna Jean was active in church, choir, youth groups, and music from elementary school into adult life. As a teen she became proficient in playing hand bells and returned to playing them as an adult. At a young age, she had many trips in the West and Midwest with family and with youth groups. Seeing the Rose Parade, visiting national parks, and so many other locations opened her eyes to the world.

In high school she found a niche in the drama department, enjoying work on stage and behind the scenes. She earned a drama scholarship to Weber State, but also had dreams of being a teacher. Her initial college experience, including a semester in England, gave her confidence in exploring her independent side. Upon returning to the U.S., she worked in the Salt Lake area until moving to Boston in 1989. There, she started working at a computer printer manufacturer with her brother Mark. This is also where she eventually met her future husband, Martin. They started dating in the winter of 1990, and married in the summer of 1993. Two years later, they moved back west, settling in Salt Lake, before making a permanent home in West Jordan..

The day the West Jordan house offer was accepted was also the day she found out she was pregnant with her first child, daughter Erin. Three years later she had her son David. She raised her children focusing on the limitless possibilities of life, and encouraging them to explore their dreams. Activities with Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, church groups, and even the occasional trip to a California beach gave the family many memories. She enjoyed the special holiday times as much as simple game nights with family. She tried to instill the importance of family and close friends, and relished any activities that reinforced those ideals.

As Erin was finishing high school, Donna Jean finished her degree in elementary education, attaining a lifelong goal. She immediately started teaching sixth grade at Plymouth Elementary in Taylorsville. Her focus on students was evident in how they responded to her, and she received positive feedback from parents, coworkers and her principal. She worked to make sure students knew while they worked on academic skills, there was also a world of wonders awaiting them.

She faced her own physical challenges at this same time, going from using a cane periodically, to using a scooter to accommodate distance mobility. She took this in stride, even incorporating it into school activities. When the Covid epidemic changed the world and had such a heavy impact on education, she did her best to shift to new ways of getting the educational essentials to her students.

After moving to a new school in late 2021, she realized she needed to take a step away from the constant change and challenge of the classroom, which coincided with a need for surgery to regain reasonable mobility. This surgery, in November 2022, helped restore her ability to walk. However, complications with the surgical recovery extended her recovery from an expected three weeks to six difficult months of hospital stays, wound care, and physical rehabilitation. She was finally able to come home in April, with a home nurse and physical therapist coming in various times each week. She had ups and downs but was slowly progressing overall.

Donna Jean’s goal was to be able to get back in front of a classroom, which had been a major motivation along the way. She kept fighting against all the mental and physical challenges life had thrown at her, determined to overcome them. This has made her unexpected passing so much harder for everyone to comprehend.

Friends and family will gather to remember her on Saturday, Nov. 4, at City View Mortuary, 1001 East 11th Avenue in Salt Lake City. There will be a viewing from 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. followed by a service at 1:45 p.m. (Zoom link below). In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity.

Donna Jean leaves us with a legacy of faith, family and investing in the next generation. Those of us who laughed with her and loved her hope to live in a way that honors her and her commitments.

Zoom Link:
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Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, November 4, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Mountain time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Starts at 1:45 pm (Mountain time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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