Marie Donner, devoted wife of Jack and long time companion of Luis Horvath, mother of Michael and Steven, grandmother of Ilana, mother-in-law of Dale and Merry Lynn, and beloved Aunt and friend, died after a brief hospitalization. Marie was born in Linz, Austria, the hometown of Hitler. She watched the rise of Naziism, and saw her family spat upon and humiliated as the community turned on its own. Locked in her synagogue with her family, she narrowly escaped being killed as the Temple was set afire, saved only by the kindness of a compassionate Austrian soldier. Separated from her family, she was sent to England as part of the Kinder-transport, enduring the bombings in London and the countryside, eventually reunited with her family in San Francisco.
She met Jack at a singles dance at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco, and they married soon after. A few years later, Steve was born. After the birth of Michael in 1956, the family moved to Tucson, Arizona, where they spent 12 years, returning to live in Sunnyvale where she lived out her life.
Marie loved the arts, especially music, theater and opera. Several years after Jack died in 2001, she met Luis Horvath, who shared her love of the arts. They shared the remainder of her life together, ushering at every venue in the South Bay, out nearly every day and night. They took care of each other, and Luis was with her every step of the way.
As her life went on, Marie was called upon as one of the few Austrian survivors of the Holocaust to share her story, to serve as a warning to future generations of the legacy of hatred and anti-semitism. She said her life came full circle when she was invited back to Austria in 2018 to speak at the presentation of the book by historian Verena Wagner on the Jews of Linz. She spoke of the crowds cheering for Hitler and jeering at the Jews, to the tears and standing ovation of the hundreds gathered to hear her story.
Marie was a survivor, a fierce and independent woman who lived her life with courage and resolve. She will be missed by too many to count.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to: San Francisco Bay Area TRIO.