*Please scroll down to see a message from Donna's family regarding services*
Donna Louise Ruhling Laviano died unexpectedly in her home in Southbury, Connecticut on February 28, 2020. She was 74. Donna was born and raised in Riverdale, New York to Katherine (“Kay”) and George Ruhling in 1946, and was a survivor from day one, weighing in at only 2 lbs 10 oz well before medicine was prepared for such things. Later, she survived childhood polio. She attended Mt. Saint Ursula’s Catholic Schools and graduated from high school as a Regents Scholar in multiple subjects. She attended the University of Michigan as a pre-med major, but while home for the summer after her first year, met her husband, the late William Laviano. They were married in 1965. Donna and her husband settled down in Ridgefield, Connecticut in 1970. They raised 4 daughters together.
Donna realized her goal of completing her education and received a B. F. A. from the College of New Rochelle, and ultimately went on to receive her law degree from the University of Bridgeport School of Law. After passing the bar and practicing law for several years, she and her husband retired to Hilton Head, SC, where they spent many years among friends until Bill’s passing in 2002. About 15 years ago, Donna returned to Connecticut to spend more time with family, settling into Heritage Village in Southbury, Connecticut. There, she made many friends, with whom she played Scrabble (her favorite board game), enjoyed trivia nights, and hosted many an event. There, she met her late-fiancé, Allen Burgoyne, with whom she spent the last years of her life.
Donna was an extremely talented artist and was known for her ability to take something as simple as a salt-shaker and somehow turn it into something beautiful or unique. Donna also had a photographic memory for color. Her daughters would describe her as brilliant, tough, and big-hearted, with a tendency to correct your grammar at any time, whether she knew you or not. Indeed, as they write this obituary, they are fearful of their mother’s review of it from another realm. She loved film, television, and music. She was completely iPhone challenged, yet she loved a good mystery, and was an avid reader in her quest for knowledge. While she loved and appreciated a good joke, she was a truly horrible joke-teller, something she willingly accepted criticism for over the years.
Donna was predeceased by her husband, Bill, and her beloved brother, Richard Ruhling. She is survived by her daughters: Kristin Laviano-Rhodes (Jon) of Woodbury, CT; Lauren Laviano King (Jeff) of Aurora, OH; Jennifer Laviano of Sherman, CT; and Katie Laviano of Woodbury, CT; six grandchildren (Reed King, Halle King, Julia King, David King, Emmy Swan and Marisa Swan); and several wonderful grand-pets. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, March 14, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. at the Heritage Hotel in Southbury, Connecticut. Donna would want anyone interested in making a donation in her name to donate to
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (missingkids.org). In lieu of flowers, Donna would appreciate it if everyone would take a few moments to brush up on the difference between “your” and “you’re” and “there,” their,” and “they’re.” To leave an online condolence please visit www.munsonloveterefuneralhome.com.
* After much consideration, the decision has been made to proceed with mom's Memorial Service this Saturday. The decision wasn't easy, but we felt we were left with three very tough choices: 1) proceeding with the service, even though we are aware that many (including our family) are very concerned about containing the coronavirus; 2) postponing it indefinitely, knowing that the virus will probably remain a consideration for at least many weeks, if not months, thereby preventing our family from having the much needed ritual of a funeral for our mom; or 3) canceling it altogether, which would deprive our amazing mother of the right and wish to be remembered by those who loved her in a formal celebration of her life.
While we have made the decision to proceed, we (and we know our mom) would absolutely understand any person who might otherwise attend's decision not do so. Each of us knows our own health and comfort level with attending a gathering right now. None of us would ever want anyone to compromise their health or comfort, or that of others, to be there. And of course, if you're not feeling well, please don't take the risk! We have taken many precautions, including securing many bottles of hand-sanitizer for the tables, asking the hotel to seat fewer people to a table to allow for more space between individuals, and deciding not to hold a receiving line. *
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