Obituary of Donna Jean Ernst
Donna Vanaria Ernst, born on March 8, 1960, and untimely departed on October 10, 2023, was a force to be reckoned with. Her unabashed disdain for the trivialities of life was evident to anyone who had the privilege of knowing her. Yet, on this somber occasion, some words must be spoken.
Donna was born to Vincent and Helen Patricia Vanaria, both of whom preceded her in death. She grew up in the quaint town of Brewster, New York, alongside her three siblings, Vincent (predeceased), Catherine (Connecticut), and Christine (California). Donna is also survived by her sister-in-law, Anna (Rhode Island), her nieces, Gina (Georgia) and Johanna (Rhode Island), her brother-in-law, Mark (Connecticut), her sister-in-law Wendy (California), her grandnephew, Harlin (Georgia), her cousins Michael and his wife Janice (Colorado) and Anthony (Paris, France), and her first cousin once removed, Nino (Paris, France).
Donna received her early education at St. Lawrence O'Toole Grammar School in Brewster and later attended John F. Kennedy High School in Somers, New York. In 1980, she graduated from the New York State University at Cobleskill. Her professional journey led her to the position of Office Manager at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein and Selz in New York City until 2008. Then, in line with the Vanaria family tradition of scattering to various corners of the world, Donna ventured to St. Petersburg, Florida, where she assumed the role of Office Manager at Abbey, Adams, Byelick & Mueller until her passing this past Tuesday.
Donna was previously married, but it wasn't until she met Ralph Bettman, one of the wittiest individuals you could ever encounter (despite his past as a judge), that she found the love of her life. Together, they reveled in years of joyous cohabitation in Yonkers, New York until Ralph’s passing in 2003. Her second great love was her feline companion, Mattie, renowned for her formidable disposition. Donna's ashes will be commingled with those of Mattie and set adrift on the sea near the beloved beach she cherished.
Donna's sharp, acerbic wit, her unwavering commitment to candid truth, her enduring friendships, and her profound love will be missed by her family, friends, and colleagues. She might now be scoffing, "Pffff, what nonsense!" but she would appreciate it if you would honor her memory by making donations to a local animal shelter.
Rest in Peace, Donna. Your unfiltered spirit lives on in the hearts of all who were fortunate enough to know you.