Donna Marie Haakenson

May 5, 1938 - March 12, 2019

Evansville, WI -- Donna Marie (Gardner) Haakenson, 80, Evansville, WI, passed away peacefully with her family by her side at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, WI, on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 after suffering complications from a stroke. Donna, the oldest of three children, was born to William Ambrose and Pearl (Radakovich) Gardner in Ironwood, MI, on May 5, 1938. She grew up in Wisconsin Rapids, WI, and graduated from Lincoln High School there in 1956. Donna earned a B.S. degree in Music and Secondary Education (1961) as well as a M.S. degree in Music Education (1973) from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Donna passionately taught music in K-12 schools in Iola-Scandinavia, Portage, Edgerton, Madison, Stoughton and Evansville over her 50-year teaching career. She taught private piano lessons as well for almost 40 years. Donna also directed vocal choirs, serving as the Choir Director of the Cooksville Lutheran Church in Evansville for 36 years, and co-directed the Evansville Ecumenical Choir for 36 years. She also served on the Evansville Community School District Board of Education for 19 years. Donna married Paul Benjamin Haakenson in 1973. Together, they raised two children, and owned and operated a dairy farm in the rolling hills of rural Evansville.

Donna is survived by her husband, Paul; children, Peter (Kelly) Haakenson of Dodgeville, and Kristin (Troy) Klarkowski of Tucson, AZ; grandchildren: Benjamin, Jacob and Natalie Haakenson, Annaliese and Everett Klarkowski; sister, Polly (James) Garbe of Stevens Point; brother, William (Barb) Gardner of Wisconsin Rapids; sister-in-law, Kathryn Gerstenkorn of Portage; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceeded in death by her parents; brother-in-law, Russell Gerstenkorn; and beloved grandson, Miles Haakenson.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday March 19, 2019 at Cooksville Lutheran Church with Reverend Karla Brekke officiating. Burial will follow in Cooksville Cemetery. A visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday March 18, 2019 at Ward-Hurtley Funeral Home Evansville and from 10 a.m. until the time of service on Tuesday at church. Condolences may be expressed at

Her family wishes to express their sincere gratitude to the expert medical and support services staff at St. Mary's Hospital ICU and 7SW, and to Dr. Meetul Shah for his exemplary and compassionate medical care over the years.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages memorials that will be designated in Donna's honor at a later date.

"Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life." ~ Bertold Auerbach