Cheney Free Press -

Mariann L. Donley


Last updated 5/21/2020 at 10:58am

Mariann L Donley, born in Elk River, California Feb. 14, 1938, to Jacob and Louise Lorensen, passed peacefully May 12, 2020, in Spokane, Washington.

Mariann was born into a rural household, the last of a generation to attend a one-room schoolhouse. Her strong desire to be a part of education started early as she wandered across the road to the Elk River School at four years old. She got to stay, and by fifth-grade, she was assisting the teacher with educating younger classmates.

After graduating from Eureka High School, Mariann attended Humboldt State College, where she received her bachelor of arts in education and continued her education at the University of Illinois, where she received a master’s degree in education. Her early desire to teach others developed into a lifelong career as a public educator.

Mariann taught elementary school for a combined 42 years in California, Illinois and her longest stint at Betz Elementary in Cheney, Washington where she taught fourth-grade and loved every minute of it. After retiring from public education, she spent only one school year away from the classroom. The following year, she was asked to work with the Department of Education at Eastern Washington University, where she worked for 15 years doing many things such as supervising student teachers and teaching classes.

While attending Humboldt State, she met and married her lifelong friend and husband of 62 years, Dick Donley. The two of them moved to Cheney over 50 years ago to pursue their dream of building a family and a home. They purchased a house and a piece of land in Amber, Washington, south of Cheney, started a small hobby farm, had two children and began the life they had dreamt of together.

Mariann came from a rural background; living in the “country” fit her like a glove. She truly loved her community, neighbors, and friends. She was known far and wide as the person who always had time to share her amazing cooking, a hug, a kiss (some of her kids’ teenage friends found that awkward) and love for everyone she had time and energy to fit into her life.

She didn’t make much of her role in the community other than to believe we owe it to ourselves and others to look out for and love each other unconditionally. She had other passions as well. She and Dick spent their spring and summer days maintaining their massive garden providing fresh produce for all who knew her. Her canned goods and preserves were of local legend.

Mariann loved giving back to her community and was involved in many community organizations such as PEO, and ADK. She was also an active member of the Cheney Congregational Church. She loved cooking, baking, canning, bargain shopping, lunching with friends and family, and a healthy pour of boxed chardonnay.

In recent years, while she was recuperating from cancer and surgery, she grew to love sports. It was this new-found enthusiasm that helped her grow into a rabid Eastern Eagles fan, attending football and basketball games as often as possible. In this past year, she became a fan of Curling and was lucky enough to attend every session of the U.S. National Curling Championships held in Cheney.

Mariann had unending energy. Many friends, family and colleagues jokingly called her the Energizer Bunny. Not only did she channel her energy into pursuing her passions in life, but she also gave everything she had to her family. She was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. She will be deeply missed by all.

Mariann is survived by her husband, Dick Donley, daughter Katy Magee (Charles), son Chris (Leanne), and her grandchildren Abby, Davis, Loren and Cora. In lieu of flowers or cards, please donate to the Eagle Athletic Fund in her name.

Cheney Funeral Chapel, Cheney, WA. Online guest book at


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