MONROE — When Donnetta Walser was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, she told her family she didn’t want a funeral.
Her faith taught her not to fear death, she told them. The former teacher, mayor and councilwoman didn’t want tears. She asked that her life be celebrated, said her son, Matt Walser.
The celebration filled The Rock Church in Monroe on Saturday. The moment of silence was done her way, while her favorite song played: Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places.” A mastermind of pranks, she also loved April Fools’ Day.
Walser died in December from cancer, at age 73. The memorial focused on her work in schools, in public life and as a mother and grandmother. Fred Walser, her husband of 45 years, is a former Sultan police chief and Washington State Patrol trooper. They raised sons Matt and Scott in Monroe.
Matt Walser said his mother wasn’t a fan of politics, especially elections, but she served because she cared about what was right.
Some at the service first met Walser as students, including Pastor Jeff Knight, who served as emcee, and Republican state Sen. Kirk Pearson. Whether you were a high-schooler or a grown-up, Walser was a strong, inspirational leader, Knight said.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene got to know the Walsers for their work to improve safety on U.S. 2. DelBene had a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in Donnetta Walser’s memory.
When the Walsers came to Olympia to seek help from lawmakers, Pearson knew he had to do a good job for them.
He and many others are grieving their friend.
“It’s people like Donnetta and Fred who put their heart in,” Pearson said.