What the caterpillar perceives is the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning.
  • 70 years old
  • Born on September 9, 1941 in Long Beach, California, United States.
  • Passed away on October 22, 2011 in Anaheim Hills, California, United States.

This memorial website was created in the memory of our loved one, Donna Gayle Cucunato - wife, mother, sister, grandmother and friend - born on September 9, 1941 and passed away on October 22, 2011, surrounded by her family after a brave battle with ovarian cancer.  In awe and gratitude, we will love and remember her forever.

The memorial service for Donna will be Saturday, November 12, at 10:00am at the Fish Interfaith Center at Chapman University. A reception will follow immediately outside in the Attallah Piazza.  Parking is available in the Orange Lot accessed via University Drive or the Lastinger Structure located off Walnut between Glassell and Center.  Please note no parking permit is required on this day.  

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Donna's memory to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for Ovarian Cancer Research at mskcc.convio.net (go to Ways to Give/Donate Now/Ovarian Cancer) and/or The Cucunato Movement Education Scholarship Fund at Chapman University.  For The Cucunato Scholarship Fund please contact Pattie Sobczak at 714.532.7702, pdillon@chapman.edu or send by mail to Pattie Sobczak, DOD, College of Educational Studies, One University Drive, Orange, CA, 92866.




Posted by Michelle Bradford on July 26, 2019
I just learned of your passing and I'm so very sad. My daughter and granddaughter was trying to help me remember the positions of ballet, in which Mrs. Cucunato taught me. As a little girl, I grew up on Cherry Street in Westminister, CA, and twice a week I would walk around the corner to dance class in Mrs. Cucunato's backyard on her patio. Such fond memories. She was so elegant and beautiful! She taught us girls, how to conduct ourselves in a lady-like manner. She would have a treasure box full of goodies that if we paid attention, she'd let us get one toy. She even had us perform for our family and friends in her backyard, on the patio for our recital. Christa and I were in the same class at Schmidt Elementary, and she was so petite and beautiful, like her mother. I remember Christa being a very talented dancer too!

Thank you for helping in molding me at such a young age (1972-1975), and giving me life-long advice, through your dance classes!!  Your memory will forever live on in my mind!
Posted by Sandy Blanck on October 22, 2018
I think of you often and am so grateful for the friendship we had. You embodied everything good. Your wisdom, grace, faith and creativity touched me deeply. Love to you, my friend.
Posted by Pam Pellizzon on September 12, 2018
You loved and are beloved - thinking of you on your 77th Birthday! Just enjoyed a weekend w/Carrie in Park City & continue to be grateful to you for raising such a beautiful daughter & friend.
Posted by Cathy Kaemmerlen on September 9, 2018
Think of Donna often and how wonderful and supportive she was of me as a colleague and friend. She was a jewel in every respect.
Posted by Sandy Blanck on October 23, 2017
Dear Friend, I think of you often and will always cherish the memories of our friendship. It is one that endures forever. I will see you someday in Heaven.
Posted by Janis Murray on October 22, 2017
Carrie's mom, or Mrs. Cucunato, to me, was a beautiful, graceful and kind woman. Both of her daughters, Carrie and Krista, are just like her. You did a good job Mrs. Cucunato and of course, Mr. Cucunato - you were a large part of that as well. You are missed Mrs. Cucunato.
Posted by Margie McCoy on September 14, 2017
Donna was a blessing, a woman of grace and beauty. I saw her picture yesterday and was reminded again of how much I miss her and how much she blessed my life. Chuck, Carrie and Christa...I send my love to you all. 
I look forward to seeing Donna again in heaven.
Posted by Pam Pellizzon on September 9, 2017
Happy Birthday in heaven Mrs Cucunato! You are missed more than you can imagine. Your life here with us still inspires and your appreciation of God's goodness in nature and in people lives on thru Carrie - she sure has a great eye for style and garden design and all things naturally beautiful. Just like all your girls. And she is a true & loyal person - I have you & Mr C to thank for raising my amazing friend. I still smile every time I see a butterfly because of you & I always will. xoxo Love Pam
Posted by Gary Harding on March 13, 2017
I was in Donna's dance classes and department at Chapman College (It wasn't yet Chapman University yet) from 1978 - 1980 and then again about 1983-1984. Donna's religious faith was a shining example that I could be a Christian and dance, even though I was very conflicted about it at the time. Her level of professionalism and the highest of standards pushed us to be as good as we could. Even though she was much older than her students, here stamina and focus at the time were greater than mine. All told, I now have something like 8 or more years of college. Despite all the professors I've had, Donna still stands out on the top of my list as the best of the best. I've never stopped thinking about her and being thankful for having known her.

I was just re-watching the movie musical Cinderella with Leslie Ann Warren and I was remembering that Donna was in some movie musicals so I looked her up thinking I might find an IMDB listing for her, but then I found this memorial site. It is very sad to hear that she has past, but to see her so memorialized by those she touched is very heart warming.
Posted by JoAnn Buchanan on October 23, 2016
Donna....5 years since your passing and the "footprint" you left behind still lives on. Continuing to inspire those fortunate enough to have been touched by you. We all miss you dearly.
Posted by Pam Pellizzon on October 22, 2016
You are, & always will be, forever in our hearts... each dance, every butterfly, each curious student, your beauty in both daughters and granddaughters who carry your generosity, & your example of faith and everlasting love with Chuck...you continue to make a difference & I am grateful to you
Posted by Jeanne Walker on October 22, 2016
Dancing at Chapman continues to be amazing and Donna made it so! But never the same without this beautiful soul.....
Posted by Ruriko Duer on October 22, 2016
Donna, I miss you very much.
Posted by Patt Cucunato on October 22, 2015
I cannot believe it has been four years already. Sadly, life goes on, just not as well as when you were here. Miss you!
Posted by Sandy Blanck on September 10, 2015
Happy birthday, dear friend. I know your light continues to shine in many peoples lives, including mine. I thank God for you, and that you were part of my life.
Posted by Pam Pellizzon on September 9, 2015
Happy Birthday in Heaven, Mrs. Cucunato! I think of you so often - what a beautiful life, a blessed life. You influenced so many of us without ever knowing how much. Your spirit is felt whenever I'm with Carrie... you and Mr. Cucunato raised your girls with grace, integrity, and true beauty. Your legacy carries on forever in them and I'm forever grateful for our friendship. With love and prayers always...
Posted by Cathy Kaemmerlen on September 9, 2015
Happy birthday to a lovely lady who is sorely missed.
Posted by JoAnn Buchanan on September 9, 2015
Donna . . . I think of you so often. Even in your passing, I continue to be inspired by the wonderful, caring, amazing individual that you were. You left this world much too early, but your spirit, inspiration & kindness continues to live on, because you made an impact & difference in all those lives you touched. You are deeply missed.
Posted by Patt Cucunato on September 9, 2015
Happy Birthday, Doona. Think of you often and miss you always.
Posted by Jeanne Walker on September 9, 2015
When I realize I am overwhelmed and need a little grace in my life, I often think of Donna - such a loving and gracious human being. I miss her but she left wonderful memories for so many of us.
Posted by Ruriko Duer on September 9, 2015
Happy Birthday Donna !!
Posted by JoAnn Buchanan on September 14, 2014
Chuck, Carrie & Christa,
I can't believe it's almost been 3 years. I think of Donna often and the wonderful role model she was to so many. Her "heart" lives on, guiding so many of us on being a better Mom, Grandma, Wife, Friend and Neighbor. She was a truly exceptional person. We miss her dearly & each of us are better persons for having known her.
Posted by Carrie Myklebust on September 13, 2014
I love you so much and miss you every single day mom. It's still so hard to believe you're gone. You were taken much too early and our family will never be the same. I am so grateful to somehow feel your presence and spirit all around me each and every day... Happy birthday week in heaven.
Posted by Gerri McNenny on September 9, 2014
Donna was for me a mentor and an friend, someone who generously gave of her time to help me in taking over a class she had once taught. Her generosity was demonstrated in other ways as well. One spring, she invited faculty from Chapman over to her house for a get together. She set us free in her garden, cutting flowers and arranging them in the beautiful vases she had. This was a quintessential moment--a real illustration of the camaraderie she helped to nurture among us all.
Posted by Sandy Blanck on September 9, 2014
Donna......a wonderful friend, an inspiration. I continue to think of you often and treasure the memories of you and our friendship.
Posted by Pam Pellizzon on September 9, 2014
The world became an even better place 73 years ago today when this beautiful person was born and shared her love and numerous gifts with all of us. She is deeply missed. Mr Cucunato and Carrie and Christa are honoring her legacy (literally in her garden) and spiritually by their grace and faith every day in the way they live fully and genuinely. Happy Bday in heaven Mrs Cucunato
Posted by ALESSANDRO CURCIO on December 23, 2013
Cara zia, ho appena ricordato i giorni trascorsi con te e la tua splendida famiglia durante il nostro viaggio di nozze. Momenti indimenticabili, impressi per sempre nel nostro cuore. Grazie...we love you, Alessandro e Maria Antonietta
Posted by Robin Eller on October 23, 2013
Cara Donna, I was talking about you with a colleague on Sunday- while participating in The Walk To Defeat ALS and in support of a producer/friend who has this disease. It seems only fitting to have been doing something of service on the 2nd anniversary of your transition. Surely that was you dropping by to say hello. Penso a te e alla tua famiglia.
Posted by Ruriko Duer on October 22, 2013
Hi Donna. It's been already 2 years since you flew up to the heaven. Every time I see butterflies, I think of you and say "hi, Donna", and I feel your smile. I miss you, and I love you.
Posted by Pam Pellizzon on October 22, 2013
I will be at Chapman's "American Celebration" gala in a few weeks, & I'll be thinking of your beautiful, creative mom/wife/grandma the entire time! She is truly missed, but never forgotten. Keeping all of you in prayer always.
Posted by Sandy Blanck on October 22, 2013
Donna, your light continues to shine in my life. You were such a special woman and friend.
Posted by Carrie Myklebust on September 10, 2013
Thank you friends for your kind thoughts and words about my mom. We miss her so much every single day... she was the light of our lives.
Posted by Sandy Blanck on September 9, 2013
Happy Birthday, dear friend. I miss you and think of you so often. You continue to be a bright light in my life. Blessings to Chuck, Carrie and Christa.
Posted by Robert Neil on September 9, 2013
Donna, remembering you on your Birthday. I'm dancing with the Palm Springs Follies now. I always forget you're a Virgo but I should have known as I'm a Taurus. We both love to garden. Best wishes and love to all.
Posted by Robin Eller on September 9, 2013
Tanti Auguri in ritardo Donna = Happy Belated Birthday! Just a week ago, something reminded me of my dance days at Chapman. I'm sure it was you dropping by to say hello. Grazie di cuore! Sending good thoughts to Chuck, Carrie and Christa.
Posted by Pam Pellizzon on September 9, 2013
Mrs Cucunato lived life with such passion & grace. She continues to inspire all who love & miss her so much. Remembering her gift to this world on her birthday & sending my love to all the Cucunatos
Posted by Sandy Blanck on October 23, 2012
I celebrate the day I met Donna. We were young Moms going to Goldenwest College. She touched my life. I treasure the memories of our times together. I think of her frequently and will always miss her.
Posted by Ruriko Duer on October 23, 2012
Donna, I have been thinking of your big smile everyday this past year. I feel you still encourage me from up there. I love you, Donna !!
Posted by Robin Eller on October 23, 2012
Donna, a year ago yesterday, you transitioned. I wonder how many stages you have graced and how many numbers you have already choreographed... I'm doing a double pirouette right now for you. I hope you see it.
Posted by Patt Cucunato on October 22, 2012
Today is a year since you left us. The pain and suffering are over. I am sure you are dancing in God's beautiful rose garden. We will never forget you. Sending our love
Posted by Robin Eller on September 11, 2012
Tanti Auguri Donna. I can still recall our lovely conversation about Italy. I know you are dancing front an center on the heavenly stage. Un abbraccio forte.
Posted by Carrie Myklebust on September 10, 2012
Happy brithday my dear mom. We celebrated your birthday in just the way you would have chosen... Laguna Beach with lunch at Sun Dried Tomato Cafe, gelato afterwards and then a walk on the boardwalk just like we all did together last year. Even though words cannot express how much I miss you, I feel your light each and every day.
Posted by Lisa Joy Andres on September 10, 2012
Happy birthday, Donna! Your unrehearsed song and dance be joyous in heaven! Aloha<3
Posted by Jeanne Walker on September 10, 2012
One of the butterflies at Donna's memorial landed on a program - I always felt that the butterflies were signs that she knows she was and is loved. I miss our lunches at Toyko Cafe and our trips to the ballet. I am blessed to have known her - among many others who feel the same. Watch for her butterflies!
Posted by Cathy Kaemmerlen on September 9, 2012
Happy first birthday in your new home, fellow Virgo. You are missed.
Posted by Sandy Blanck on September 9, 2012
I miss Donna but feel her presence in my life. She enriched my life and continues to do so. Happy Birthday, wonderful friend!!!
Posted by Joyce Hardos Smith on June 20, 2012
Donna and I were playmates on Adenmoor Ave. in Bellflower CA. I have not seen her in 50 years. It is so gratifying that she had such a fulfilling life. Her family and friends have been truly blessed.
Posted by Evan D'Angeles on April 21, 2012
Donna is such a light and her spirit and love for teaching dance was always infectious. She helped grow me into the arts professional I am today and her love and passion for dance taught gave me such an appreciation for the arts and my profession. May the Lord enjoy your tap performances in Heaven Donna. We shall dance together again!
Posted by Cathy Kaemmerlen on April 5, 2012
I am late to this celebration of Donna's life. She hired me to teach with her at Chapman in the dance department in the late 70's. She believed in me, encouraged me, supported me through her lovely, giving spirit. I don't think I ever heard an unkind word from her. She lived her life with grace and love. She was a beautiful dancer, person, spirit. Thankfully our paths crossed.
Posted by Susan Borer on April 5, 2012
Donna was not only my adviser and professor, but she was also my friend. She was always there, with a smile on her face, to ensure I was getting the help I needed to become the best teacher. I love her dearly and will miss her always. I was lucky enough to go on a trip with her to Washington DC and I will never take for granted the message of life she shared with me. Thank you Donna!

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