Donna Edmonds Jaranilla (1924-2021)

Donna Edmonds Jaranilla, formerly of Buda, passed away peacefully at her residence in Kyle, TX on February 20, 2021 after a short illness, with her beloved cat by her side.

Donna was born March 2, 1924 to Thomas and Pansy (Hall) Edmonds as the second-to-last of 13 siblings on the family farm in Mars Hill, NC. After growing up with grit and determination in the rugged hills, instilled with virtues of discipline, hard work, a love of reading, and a hunger to learn about the world, Donna left at 17 to seek a better life. She landed in Washington DC and worked several occupations before meeting and marrying the love of her life, Ernesto (Ernie) Jaranilla. They settled in Maryland while he was in the US Army, but travelled internationally, frequented Las Vegas, and danced as often as they could, even winning local ballroom dancing competitions.

Donna was fiercely independent, resourceful, and proud to be one of the first female taxi cab drivers in Washington DC while her husband served in the military. She had the best stories to tell as the preferred hire of several lawmakers, celebrities, and even a famous criminal. It helped that Donna knew every inch of the capitol city, and could outtalk anybody – having never met a stranger in her life! 

Donna’s life with Ernie was spent in locations across the U.S. including San Diego CA where she owned and operated a diner, and Oviedo FL where she learned the art of antique dealing and owned an antique store. Antique hunting became an unshakeable habit and Donna loved the thrill of great finds, frequenting garage and estate sales wherever she went. During Ernie’s medical retirement in Florida, they enjoyed entertaining friends and family and loved deep-sea fishing on their boat. Donna was a dedicated caretaker to him until his passing in 1986, after which she moved to Texas.

Donna retired to Buda TX to be near family, where she met her later life partner, Gerald Bollinger, and was welcomed with gusto into his large extended family. Donna made family gatherings a little livelier and always brought the best devilled eggs. Donna and Gerald enjoyed camping, fishing, RV-ing, and visiting family and friends. Their backyard was a miniature wildlife sanctuary and Donna and Gerald shared a lifelong habit of taking care of stray pets in the neighborhood. She also enjoyed her beloved neighbors.

Donna was a force to be reckoned with – energetic and eager to experience life, up early and ready to go anywhere, anytime – tempered with sweet southern charm and a love for people and God’s little creatures. She had many hobbies, including gardening, jewelry-making, reading, eating at local diners (especially Dan’s and Cracker Barrel), but most of all she loved collecting friends and loved ones along the way.

Donna never had children of her own, but was an amazing aunt, and surrogate mom and grandma to so many. She is preceded in death by her parents, siblings, husband Ernesto Jaranilla, and partner Gerald Bollinger. Left to enjoy the memories are Gerald’s family, including his children in California, and a special sister-in-law, Mary Bollinger (Lyle – deceased) of Kyle TX; brother-in-law Jean (Evelyn) Bollinger of Cedar Park TX; numerous nieces and nephews in the Edmonds and Bollinger families, and many cherished   friends and neighbors. Her beloved cat, Jeannie, has a loving home with Donna’s longtime caregiver and niece, Susan Meckel.

A celebration of life will be held Sunday July 11 at the Kyle Area Senior Zone (old City Hall Building) on the square in downtown Kyle TX at 1 p.m. A graveside service and interment of ashes will be held at a later date at Glen Haven Memorial Park in Winter Park FL. Wear pink and purple if you’ve got it, and always live your best life!

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