Donna LaRue Ball was born in Oxnard Calif. on April 2nd, 1931, to Leslie William and Alice May Ball. Donna was an only child. The first six years of her life she was raised on Silver Strand Beach in Oxnard. She loved playing in the sand dunes and playing on her home-made swing set her daddy built for her. The family gave the name of their house “Sand Drift Inn” due to the blowing sand.
Donna developed a love for music and dance as a young girl. As Donna went through elementary school, she took violin lessons. At age 11 she would perform every Friday night at the Odd Fellows Hall. Donna started piano at age 14 and continued this thru her lifetime. In later years she traded in her violin for a brand-new piano. Later in her life she went to Ventura College to study music appreciation and teaching.
After attending Oxnard High School Donna went to work at the US Naval Air Missile Test Center in Point Mugu, CA from 1945-1955. Donna met Thomas Autrey on a blind date on Halloween of 1954. They were married on April 24th of 1955 in Ventura CA. Thomas and his father built a small beach house just down the street from Channel Islands Harbor and close to the Sea Bee Base. Both of Donna’s and Tom’s parents had moved to Junction City CA to retire. n 1956 Donna and dad with dad’s brother Bill and wife Kay purchased the Junction City Store in Trinity County CA. In February of 1957, mom being pregnant with Dennis they decided to give up the store and move back to their beach house. Dad got his job back at Pt Mugu Base and Dennis was born on September 10th, 1957.
Donna and Dad were contacted by the Santa Barbara Stake Missionaries in 1959 after which dad was baptized. During this period Donna was pregnant with a little girl, Susan Lynn Autrey who was born on June 19th, 1959, she lived for 11 hours. This was a terrible blow to their family. In 1960 mom was pregnant with a little boy who was delivered still born. After a time, they considered adopting. Donna and dad sold their small beach home and moved to Pt. Hueneme in 1960. Vici Lanelle Autrey was adopted in June of 1961. In August of 1963 Donna and dad adopted a little boy, Timothy Kevin Autrey.
In August of 1965 we moved to 1208 Sparkman Ave in Camarillo CA. This is where Donna and dad raised their family. Donna taught piano in her home for 40 years with recitals held at her church in the chapel.
In 1967 Donna and dad purchased a little waterskiing boat. This took us on many waterskiing, fishing and camping excursions to Lake San Antonio, CA. Every summer family trips to Junction City to see grandparents, floating down the Trinity River in inner tubes, grandmas cooking and eventually our famous backpack trips into the Trinity Alps.
In 1970 Donna was recruited to be a girl’s camp counselor. This was the beginning of many fun filled years of camping with the young women and becoming a certified camping instructor with many of her friends in the church. Donna also served as Relief Society President during these years. Donna was diligent in getting us up for early morning Seminary. She would always have breakfast on the table every morning for us.
1n 1982 Donna was called as a Family History Consultant. This was the beginning of many years of assisting families with their genealogy and finishing her own personal genealogy.
In August of 1999 Donna and dad moved to Redding CA to be closer to my mom’s mother, Alice may Burner. Donna and Tom established their roots in Redding for the past 20 years. Dad passed in August of 2014. In July of 2020 Donna sold her home and moved in with her son Dennis and daughter-in-law Carole in Riverton UT. This gave Donna an opportunity to reunite with her grandchildren and great grandchildren which gave Donna the opportunity to be involved in family gatherings for birthdays, dinners Thanksgiving and Christmas. She was able to redevelop the love and joy that family bring to our lives.
Donna is survived by Dennis Autrey (Carole), Vici Johnston, Tim Autrey (Marka) 11 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. She is preceded in death by Thomas Marvin Autrey, her parents Leslie and Alice Ball and daughter Susan Lynn Autrey.
A viewing will be held on Saturday October 9th from 4-6 at the Rose Creek Crossing building located at 3113 W 13400 S., Riverton, UT 84065 in the Relief Society Room.
I never drive by Sparkman Street that I don’t think of the Autreys. Tom and my Tom had a wonderful friendship and love for each other. Donna and I commented that the two Toms were together in heaven, having died a few months apart. I am so grateful for the knowledge that Families are Forever.