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 (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, or send by mail to Pattie Sobczak, DOD, College of Educational Studies, One University Drive, Orange, CA, 92866.




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 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!
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 Robert Neil on January 4, 2012
I danced for Donna almost thirty years ago. I was truly saddened to hear of her passing. I was always impressed with her beauty, energy, enthusiasm and character. She was an amazing person. We are richer having known her. Best wishes and love to all.
Posted by La Abusadora on January 2, 2012
Posted by Janis Murray on November 25, 2011
Remembering all the things that made Donna so special....
Posted by Ann Custer on November 21, 2011
Donna was my daughter, Alyssa's, dance teacher many years ago. She was always this beautiful, thoughtful, kind & serene person with a perpetual smile. She was so nice to be around. She never seemed to change, she was gorgeous inside and out. I pray for God's loving arms to wrap around Chuck & all of the girls to comfort them during this painful loss. God Bless you
Posted by Patrice Painter on November 13, 2011
What a beautiful ceremony of life! I left Fish Interfaith Center inspired to make a difference with commitment, passion, and enthusiasm. I loved the stories and vibrant details each person shared. I especially enjoyed the meditation as it connected me with my grandma and Donna. The gifts they gave me were gold for winning and flowers for loving.
Posted by Paula Schlue on November 11, 2011
Carrie and Christa My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family at this time. It looks like your mom enjoyed life to the fullest from the wonderful pictures you have posted. I wish I would've had the pleasure of knowing her. Just know your mom will live on in your hearts and in your memories. God Bless you and if you need anything, I'm just around the corner.
Posted by john cummings on November 11, 2011
Chuck, Carrie & Christa Our prayers are with you at this time. Donna
was a great example and touched so many people in her life.
Love, Barbara & John
Posted by Ange Chopard on November 10, 2011
Thanks to Donna, The only french dance student I was in Chapman was able to study dance abroad, and fulfill my dream to stay and live in California during my studies. I learnt discipline and so much from a beautiful woman, teacher, mother, wife and dancer. She now is my dance Angel in heaven, and I thank her deeply for these beautiful years. MERCI, en pensées avec sa famille.Ange Monnoyeur
Posted by Lisa Joy Andres on November 9, 2011
May there be peace in knowing that Donna's heart and soul dance on in heaven. I hope she saves me a good place at the barre to warm up! She has taught me there is a lot to learn about life through dance. Thank you, Chuck and Girls for sharing her with us! She will be missed here, but we plan on seeing her in heaven. With blessings and aloha :)
Posted by Alison Morales on November 8, 2011
Christa is one of my best friends, she is a shining example of a good mother, smart woman and beautiful person.  Mrs. Cucunato was always a positive person and I have funny and cute memories of Christa in high school with her mom.  The few times that I spoke with Donna she was always so upbeat. She was a beautiful and intelligent woman.  God Bless the Cucunato Family.
Posted by Robin Eller on November 7, 2011
I was one of Donna's students at Chapman. The life lessons I learned from her were invaluable during my dance career. Shortly before Donna went on hospice, she and I had a long & lovely chat on the phone. I had hoped it wouldn't be our last .... That special time we shared was a gift that will forever stay in my heart. Grazie di cuore Donna, non mi dimenticherò mai di te!
Posted by Patrice Painter on November 6, 2011
I was college roomies with Carrie and Christa and always saw the love and joy they shared with their mom and dad. Their mom was the voice of inspiration and compassion. I remember conversations when they would ask for advice and Donna would listen and help without making the decision like a true teacher/mentor.  Donna raised beautiful and intelligent girls.
Posted by Sandy Blanck on November 5, 2011
Donna.....she will be forever etched in my my heart. We had 40 years of a treasured, enduring friendship. Her love for her family, her goodness, wisdom, creativity, energy, strength, and grace will alway radiate and provide me with a beacon...a guiding light to inspire and influence me the rest of my life.
Posted by JoAnn Buchanan on November 5, 2011
Thomas Campbell wrote, "To Live In the Hearts We Leave Behind Is Not To Die" Donna touched so many hearts throughout her lifetime. I hope it can bring the family some comfort knowing a part of Donna lives on in so many of the lives she touched along the way. Donna's life reminds me that "one person, can make a difference", and Donna certainly made a difference to a great many lives.
Posted by JoAnn Buchanan on November 5, 2011
I am incredibly heartbroken over hearing the news of Donna's passing. I absolutely ADORED Donna & felt so blessed to call her "friend". I had such respect for her & the way she lived her life. Donna was the "yardstick" I used for measuring what I thought the ultimate Mom, Wife, Daughter & Person should strive to be. Thank you Donna, for all you meant to our family. We will miss you dearly
Posted by Diana Deiss on November 4, 2011
Donna was truly a beautiful person, inside and out. I feel blessed to have been her next door neighbor for the past 18 years. She was a friend to us all. Her creative gardening talents made our neighborhood look like a little paradise. I will miss her smile, her words of wisdom, her baked goodies at Christmas, and most of all, her unconditional love for everyone she knew.
Posted by Cliff Cole on November 3, 2011
Gracious and Grace-filled come to my mind and heart immediately. Before and after we left the Orange church and community, Donna always came to mind when thinking of Chapman University and its ambassadors. Whether visiting in her home or viewing a dance production, her commitment to young adults and their performances was always stirring, joy-filled and as memorable as she.
Posted by Lissa Smith on November 3, 2011
Chuck, Carrie, Christa, Madi and Olivia,
It was with a heavy heart that I had to inform our church about Donna's passing in this life, yet I am confident that she is living her eternal life dancing for and with our Lord. Donna's life stands as a shining example to all and I am blessed to have known and ministered with her. Peace and love to you all.
Posted by Bridgette Hunt on November 2, 2011
Hi Carrie and Christa,

Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. You two light up any room with your smiles and joy, so I can only imagine your mom was greatly responsible for the love and warmth you show others. May God comfort you and keep you close during this time and beyond.
Posted by Tom Brandt on November 2, 2011
Donna was a force. A creative, giving, loving person whose energy was legendary. She was an exceptional lady who made all of our lives better and made us better people for our relationship with her. Only those of us who were fortunate to know her can understand the depth and breath of this very special person. If love could have saved her she would have lived forever.
Posted by Patty Hoffman on November 1, 2011
Intelligent, kind, elegant, wise—these are a few of the words that come to mind when I think of Donna Cucunato. She was an amazing person, and an excellent role model for the rest of us to follow. I feel blessed to have known her and will cherish her memory forever.
Posted by Julee Johnson on November 1, 2011
It always seemed to me that Carrie and Donna had the most special mother daughter relationship of anyone I knew. When I became a mother I told Carrie I hoped for the same with my daughter. Thank you Donna for being the most wonderful role model.
Posted by Pam Pellizzon on November 1, 2011
As her daughter's college roommate, I will always remember the mutual respect and the close, close, loving relationship shared by mother and daughter and the whole Cucunato family. She was both stunningly beautiful and a beautiful person. When she was greeted by God in heaven, I think the first thing He no doubt said was, "well done my good and faithful servant". With love & sympathy.
Posted by Gerri McNenny on October 31, 2011
Donna was a dedicated teacher who modeled for her students the generosity and caring so essential to teachers everywhere.I learned an incredible amount from Donna. She will be missed!
Posted by Gabriella Davis on October 31, 2011
Donna was always generous with her time and knowledge. She pushed me to be a better student and teacher. She expected the best and pushed me to expect the same from myself and others. I will miss her.
Posted by Sandra Robbie on October 28, 2011
Peace, light, and love...that is how Donna always signed her messages. Her words always lifted my heart and reminded me of the unique, marvelous, spritual and mysterious nature of each of our personal journeys. I thank you Donna for that reminder. You have touched my soul forever.
Posted by SallyAnn Giess on October 28, 2011
Although I knew Donna for only a few years, she left an indelible impression on me. She helped me grow professionally and personally. I am comforted in knowing she lived a full and happy life.
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Recent Tributes
Posted by Sandy Blanck on September 9, 2020
Happy Birthday, dear friend. I know God’s angels must be celebrating you today, with thankfulness, that they have your beautiful spirit there with them. I miss you, your smile, your wisdom, your positive, giving spirit and the special friendship we shared. Thank you for our friendship and for having blessed my life.
Posted by Pam Pellizzon on September 9, 2020
Happy Birthday Mrs Cucunato! This year has been particularly strange with the global pandemic - no doubt you’d be helping others, staying optimistic, and tending to your garden of life with love and light. Your legacy is alive and well in your amazing girls.
Posted by Cathy Kaemmerlen on September 9, 2020
Often think of the treasure that was Donna Cucunato. She saw things in people when we were in doubt about ourselves. She was the most positive, gracious person I’ve ever known—beautiful inside and out.
Recent stories

The Most Graceful Person I Ever Knew

Shared by David Oliveras on September 6, 2016

I fondly remember this trip to Northern California with a very small group of determined dancers.  We visited schools and community centers and spread the word about Chapman's dance program.  I was one of two guys and hardly a dancer at all.  I had aspirations of being a singer then but Donna found a use for me anyway and I did my best to learn the moves and keep up.  I retrospect, I was pathetic, but she as patient and supportive.  Donna taught me the importance of being professional and giving it your all -- even when your all ain't all you'd like it to be.  We made it through that January trip to San Francisco and back somehow.  I'll never forget how she drove that van, with all of us in it down Lombard street.  My happiest moments at Chapman!
-- David Oliveras 

My Memories of Donna

Shared by Henry Canales on December 29, 2011

I met Donna and Chuck about 3 years ago through their daughter I dated. I still remember the first time I met them as if it were yesterday. They immediately treated me as if I were part of the family, which by the way meant I was not full at the dinner table till they felt I was full. The meals that Donna and Chuck prepared were something I looked forward to more than they will ever know. I had the opportunity to spend some of the holidays with them over the past few years, and on those days it was ping pong with Donna and Bocci ball with Chuck. Shorty after meeting them, they realized I am pretty handy at fixing things around the house, and I was able to repay them for all the great food and company they shared with me. I will never forget the big smile on Donna's face when I would show up at the house with the home made organic chocolate chip cookies, she really did light up the house.

I have done work for lots of people over the years, but none will ever stand out like Chuck and Donna. When people hire you to do work on their house, they sometimes micromanage you to the point of regreting you took the job. I can honestly say that this special couple treated me exceptionally well and with so much respect, that I would look forward to helping them and fixing things for them. I probably wished on more than one occasion that something would break at their house just before dinner so I could sit with them at the dinner table.

I was at the Cucunato's earlier today doing some work for Chuck. Normally Donna and Chuck would be out gardening together, but today it was Chuck as I drove up to the house. I know things will never be the same for the family and many others that Donna touched, but the memories of her will never pass. God only knows why Donna was taken so soon from Chuck and the rest of the family.

 Donna, thank you for always treating me as if I were part of your family, I will never forget it.  

Henry Canales



Shared by Clark Romo on November 8, 2011

Dear Christa,

How extraordinary and lucky is our freindship? All of our friends that grew up together since High School has always loved and adored you, and your Mother.

She was so beautiful, and so well respected. Her positive attitude, her passion for dance, and her example of a great mother has been past down to both you and Carrie. I am so poud to have you in my life and see how Amazing the product of your parents is in you, and now in your daughters. You are definatly an extention of who she was and your family makes this world a better place.

I know your Mother and mine are looking down on us with a huge smile knowing that we will go on and continue to make them proud of us with our choices in life. We love our moms so much and we will all be together again some day...

DONNA.... God Bless You for being the person you were. You will be missed...

Clark Romo and Ed Romo