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Resident Spotlights | May 24, 2020 | By Denee Coleman

Resident Spotlight – Donna Rolls

Meet Donna Rolls, Carlton Senior Living‘s spotlight resident – Donna de Saint Croix Rolls was born on August 6, 1931 in Arlington, Massachusetts to Frances and Donald Wood. She was named Donna after her father and her unique middle name had been passed down through her mother’s family for four generations. Naturally, when Donna gave birth to her own daughter, Allison, she also passed on the middle name.

Donna was raised Unitarian Universalist, a religion which traces its roots back nearly 450 years to 16th Century Transylvania. Her mother took care of the home and family while her father was a self-employed gold and silver smith. Due to the nature of her father’s profession, Donna’s family moved around the New England states. At ten years old, she recalls waiting in the car during the birth of her brother, Christopher, because children were not allowed to accompany their parents into the hospital during that time. By then, the family was living in New Haven, Connecticut. Two years later, Donna had an unexplainable stroke while on the school playground and she remembers her mother trying to keep her awake as they quickly drove to the New Haven hospital. Before Donna was released from the hospital, her father decided to let her select where the family would move next. She chose the bustling borough of Brooklyn, New York where her parents purchased their home.

Donna at around age 11 and her mother, Francis.

Following her graduation from high school, Donna started working at a hospital in the x-ray department. After about a year on the job, her father strongly encouraged her to decide what she’d like to do with the rest of her life. Donna then applied and was accepted at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland where she majored in English and minored in philosophy. Although she admits it was a bit difficult, Donna graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree.

At the age of 24, Donna began working at Hanover bank and saving her money so that she could begin life on her own. Once she saved enough money, young Donna moved to San Francisco and immediately began attending church services. While attending church, Donna met her husband-to-be, William Rolls, and the couple was married after a six-month courtship. The newlyweds started their family in the Victorian house and later relocated to Richmond to be closer to William’s new job. Donna and William had three children; Christopher, Allison and Roxanne, all of whom were raised as Unitarian Universalists. The Rolls family were members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms and Donna recalls the happy times the family had with the SCA while acting out scenes from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Donna also enjoyed her seven years as a Girl Scout leader which allowed her to spend time with her daughters.

Donna and Venice at the CPH annual barbecue, 2016

Donna and William decided to split after 20 years of marriage and she moved to her own place and began her career at Pacific Horticulture from which she would retire 17 years later. During that time, Donna became very active in the Berkeley church with which she would travel to Transylvania in Romania on three separate occasions to learn more about her religious origins.

Artwork by Carlton resident, Donna Rolls

An art piece by Donna

After retiring, Donna lived in Walnut Creek for 13 years until eventually moving to Carlton Senior Living Concord. She now calls Carlton Senior Living Pleasant Hill her home. Here Donna enjoys creating art, laughing and joking with her neighbors and always offers a friendly smile.

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