Donna W. (Saunders) Bailey-ThompsonSeptember 18, 1930 ~ December 7, 2017 (age 87)
Donna Bailey-Thompson (née Saunders), of Springfield, MA died on December 7, 2017. She was 87 years old. Donna was born on September 18, 1930, in Kansas City, MO to the late Warwick Saunders and Isabelle May (Dodge) Saunders. She grew up in Worcester, MA where she began studying classical piano at age 3. By the time she graduated from Classical High School in 1948, she had become an accomplished pianist and was voted Most Poised and Best Dressed. Donna studied theater with Emile O. Schmidt at Springfield College and wrote her first one-act play in 1956. She started an apprenticeship with the Ivy Players and went on to become their General Manager. She often described her work as “the best job I ever had,” as it gave her the opportunity to meet and work with iconic stars from stage and screen. Donna wrote her first musical review in 1958 and began a love affair with writing and the arts that spanned an almost 60-year career as a music and theater critic, which culminated in 2016 with a Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Massachusetts Critics Circle. In the 1960s, Donna hosted Playbill, a weekly radio program dedicated to the arts and was City Editor of the Springfield Herald. In Goldsboro, NC she was Managing Editor of Lady Seymour, a magazine dedicated to the wives of US Air Force Officers. While in Goldsboro, she took flying lessons and gained the mastery necessary to fly a Cessna solo. She went on to buy and manage Highview Campground in West Brookfield, MA. In the 1970s, Donna continued writing and editing as one of 3 founding members and the Associate Editor of Springfield Magazine. During this time she owned her own Public Relations firm and became a Teaching Editor at the Spanish American Union and the bilingual newspaper La Voz/The Voice. Throughout the 1980s, Donna was greatly invested in Al-anon, facilitating other recovery based self-help groups, and working as a freelance writer and creative writing coach. In the 1990s, Donna launched Challenges, a monthly publication focused on codependency where she grew a national readership. Donna published her memoir "Stark Raving Sober" in 2006. Over the next decade, Donna continued writing, editing and submitting reviews. She also began work on a second book entitled "Before," which chronicled her childhood in Worcester, MA and the many summers spent on Lake Kezar in Lovell, ME. Donna is survived by a daughter Elizabeth Perkins, her partner Tina Sanginetti and a son David Bailey of Springfield, MA; five grandchildren David, Jason, Isabelle and William Perkins and Anne Marie Bailey; eight great-grandchildren Ethan Perkins, Jacob Guzzo, Kannaan Perkins-Garcia, Caleb and Cadence Crum, Audriana Perkins, Aryia and Amyia Garcia. She leaves her ex-husband William A. Bailey and his wife Alfreda Shapere of Norwich, CT who offered her great friendship for more than 35 years, a treasured niece, Lori Cairns of Worcester, MA and a dear friend Marie Greco of Wilbraham, MA. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband M. Stafford Thompson in 1995. Donna passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family at East Longmeadow Skilled Nursing Center, just weeks after falling ill at home. She will be remembered as an engaging writer, editor, performer and artist as well as a leading figure in the local art’s community. In keeping with Donna’s last wishes, there will be no funeral services. Instead, a celebration of her life is being planned for the spring. Those who wish to make a gift in her memory are encouraged to support The Glaucoma Research Foundation, The Acromegaly Community and The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD).