Cover photo for Donna Tanner's Obituary
1929 Donna 2021

Donna Tanner

January 1, 1929 — December 20, 2021

“Well done thou good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

Video of Funeral Service

Audio Funeral Recording

Donna Wittwer Tanner
February 18, 1929 – January 21, 2021

“Well done thou good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

Donna Wittwer Tanner, our sweet and gifted mother, grandmother and great grandmother passed away peacefully attended by immediate family in Salt Lake City, Utah on January 21, 2021, four weeks before her 92nd birthday.  Donna, the granddaughter of Mormon Pioneers, was born February 18, 1929, to Eldon Wittwer and Alice LaVerne Tullis in Ithaca, New York. She was the middle child of three girls. Donna grew up in Reno, Nevada where her father was a professor at the University there. Music was a large part of her life. She was a 1st chair violinist in the high school orchestra and played clarinet in the marching band. She was also a gifted pianist and vocalist. Her senior year she was high school debate champion.  Donna attended the University of Nevada for two years and then attended BYU Provo where she sang in the A Capella Choir and was 1st Attendant to the Homecoming Queen. Donna taught her children that an education is a woman’s best insurance. Donna was a Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist with bachelor’s degrees from BYU and a master’s degree from the University of Utah. Donna worked for the Salt Lake School District for three years and sang in the Tabernacle Choir for four years before marrying Bernard M. Tanner in 1954 in the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

An accomplished woman in her own right, Donna followed her heart and traded her plans for a PhD at Stanford for marriage and raising her family of eight children. She was a devoted wife and supportive mother. While raising her family, Donna worked in her chosen field first in private practice and then for 19 years at The Children’s Center in Salt Lake City helping children with speech and hearing needs. She faithfully served in many Church callings including Ward Primary President, Ward Relief Society President, teacher, pianist, and chorister.  In retirement, Donna served on the Salt Lake County Board of Health, as a service missionary with her husband for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Atlanta, Georgia, and enjoyed traveling the world with her husband as part of his work on the Kiwanis International Board of Trustees.  Donna and Barney also enjoyed getting together with friends for dinner, socializing, and attending the temple regularly.

Words the family uses to describe Donna include sweet, innocent, positive, family-focused, faithful, determined, goal-oriented, dependable, responsible, detail-oriented, scheduled, and hard-working. Like Pollyanna (her favorite literary character in the 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter), she was an optimist and loved to read books to children.  She also enjoyed reading maps, billboards, and always knew where to get the best price for a gallon of gas.  A child of the Great Depression, Donna was frugal, self-reliant (canning regularly), and never wanted to waste anything. She was competitive and strategic and would take anyone on in a game of Chinese Checkers - and she usually won. True to her Swiss heritage, she ran our household and the family schedule like a fine Swiss watch.  Donna was firm but sweet. Like most moms, Donna was a bit of a worrier and always kept the light on until we were all home safe and sound. We could always count on her to help us with our schoolwork and stand by in support (or even type our papers) late into the night. She was the first awake and the last to go to bed. She was a covenant woman of great faith. If we needed some extra help from God, we knew Mom’s prayers went straight to heaven. She never doubted that everything would work out despite the trial.

Donna’s greatest joy was seeing her children and grandchildren excel and accomplish their goals.  She was a champion of education, active PTA member, Boy Scout leader, and avid supporter of her family’s outside activities – both sports and the arts. While she was a cheerleader in her youth, her children all remember her as the best screamer in the stands. The only time she yelled at her children was when they were competing in sports. She got great pleasure from seeing her children and grandchildren excel no matter whether it was playing an instrument, dancing, acting, running, swimming, or otherwise competing.

Donna and Barney met singing in a choir and made music an essential part of their family, singing together around the piano and performing for others.  Christmas caroling, delivering crabapple jelly, and singing the Hallelujah Chorus with her extended family were annual traditions. Performance highlights for Donna included singing for President Spencer W. Kimball, her boys singing at the Marriott Center for Gordon’s BYU graduation, Swiss Days, and for care centers and many civic groups.

Donna was particularly proud that all five of her sons earned their Eagle Scout award and served full-time missions for the Church, that all eight children are college graduates, and that each are following the example set by their parents by serving and contributing in their church and community in a variety of meaningful ways.  She was a great force for good and her posterity honors her life-long example and legacy of love and service by continuing that love and service to others.

Donna is preceded in death by her husband, Bernard (Barney) Malan Tanner, and is survived by her children, Gordon (Julie) Tanner; Mark (Carol) Tanner; Robert (Diane) Tanner; Edwin (Vala’dee) Tanner; Charlene (Lindsay) Ford; Donnette (Joseph) Wheat; Leanne (Glenn) McKenney; and David (Vonae) Tanner; 32 grandchildren, and 29 great grandchildren.

In keeping with COVID-19 restrictions, we ask all who attend to wear masks, social distance, and stay home if you are not well.

Viewings in her honor will be held at the Salt Lake Olympus Stake Center on Friday evening, January 29, 2021, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday morning preceding the service from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 30, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. at the Salt Lake Olympus Stake Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located at 2675 East 4430 South, in Salt Lake City. All others are invited to watch an on-line streaming of the service accessed through

Written expressions of love and memories can be shared on this website by clicking on the Tribute Wall tab at the top of the obituary.

In lieu of flowers, any remembrances in honor of Donna can be made to The Children’s Center or LDS Humanitarian Services

The family expresses their deepest gratitude to all who were involved in her care at the BeeHive Home. She lived a wonderful and full life.  She will be missed, and we look forward to a glorious reunion to come.

Streaming can be accessed on Saturday, January 30, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. by  using the link below or clicking on  the streaming button at the bottom of the page.

Meeting ID:
804 197 3810

It is also be streamed on facebook live at

Tribute Video

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donna Tanner, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, January 29, 2021

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Mountain time)

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Saturday, January 30, 2021

9:30 - 10:30 am (Mountain time)

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Funeral Service

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Starts at 11:00 am (Mountain time)

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