Donna Casper Besendorfer Saracino passed away March 31, 2020, at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. She was born September 11, 1936 in Murray, Utah to Kenneth Burton Casper and Velma Price Casper. A private graveside service will be held for immediate family at Memorial Mountain View Cemetery on Saturday, April 4, 2020.

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Written by Donna:

My name is Donna Casper Besendorfer Saracino. I was the 2nd of six children born to Kenneth Burton Casper and Velma Sarah Price Casper.

My siblings are Velma LaRae Casper Kellch (deceased), Marilyn Casper Robertson, Richard Kenneth Casper, Sharon Casper Frandsen, and Gary Burton Casper (deceased).

I was born on Sept. 11, 1936 at the Cottonwood Maternity Home in Murray, Utah. We lived on Gunderson Lane (about 19th E. and 41st So.) When I was two or three years old, Daddy built us a two-room house at 4149 Highland Drive. Which in later years he added on to, in the back and then the front. We went to the Winder Ward which was across the street and had the property donated to the church by my great grandfather. I attended William Penn Elementary School 1st– 6th grade, Olympus Jr. High grades 7 – 9, and Granite Hight for 10th – 11th grade. My senior year I went to Olympus High and was a member of the first graduating class from there in May 1954. I also graduated from Seminary.

We were always an active and sports-loving family. As kids we went skiing, hiking, fishing, and camping with my mom and dad. We grew up on venison, fish, pheasant, and duck.

As teens, LaRae, Marilyn, and I played on many softball and basketball teams together, and we won many championships. Marilyn was our pitcher in softball and she pitched so fast that no one but me dared catch for her, because we practiced together all the time. In my junior year in high school, I started dating William N. Besendorfer (Bill). We got married two and a half years later on August 1, 1955 (Bill’s deceased dad’s birthday was Aug. 1). Two weeks after we were married, Bill got his draft notice from the Army and entered the Army in October 1955. I went to see him at Thanksgiving when he was in basic training at Fort Carson, Colorado. He came home for Christmas, and then was sent to Fort Bliss, Texas where I visited for a weekend in February. Then he was sent to Berkley, California to a Nike Missile Unit in the hills above Berkley. I moved down there with him and we spent the next 18 months in the Oakland-Berkley area, and our first son William was born there. When Bill was released from active duty, we moved back to Holladay, Utah where our family grew with the births of two more sons, Kenneth and Douglas, and a daughter, Karen.

Written by Donna’s family:

This little family grew up on Highland Drive, just 3 houses down from Donna’s parents, where she had spent her whole life. In the summer of ’69, the family moved a couple of blocks west to Winder Lane. Bill and Donna divorced in December 1973. Donna went to work for Harmon’s grocery store until she was hired at Mountain Bell as an operator taking complaints for malfunctioning phone lines. Her patient demeanor allowed her to continue working there until she retired decades later. Donna had many stories and fond memories of special friendships with her coworkers and her time with the phone company.

While working at the phone company she met and began dating her sweet heart, Al Saracino. They married September 12, 1983. Donna became an active part of the Saracino family, embracing Al’s children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, and in-laws.

Donna and Al were inseparable until Al’s unexpected death in January of 2015. Together they lived in their home on Warnock Avenue for over thirty years. They were active poker players in Wendover and wherever they could get into a poker tournament or a game among friends. They supported their children and grandchildren by attending a never-ending variety of events and activities. They traveled often to visit family and friends around the country, never passing a casino without stopping in to see if there was a live poker game going on. The kids and grandkids remember many camping and fishing trips with ‘Grandpa Al and Grandma Al’.

During the last decade of Al’s life, they were active members of the Discovery Christian church, where they met and gained many new friends. For the last 2 years of her life, Donna lived in the Chateau Brickyard Independent Living Center, making many new friends in the dining room and at the game’s tables.

Donna was well loved by all who knew her. She was a peacemaker who avoided confrontation and sought joy for everyone. Donna was a kind, loving, positive individual who tried to bring joy wherever she went. She was known for making others feel welcomed and loved. She had the best smile and a happy laugh. She will be missed dearly by all of her family and friends. We are certain she had a joyous reunion as she passed through the veil to meet loved ones who passed before.

Donna is preceded in death by her husband, her parents, her sister LaRae Kellch, and her brother Gary Casper. She is survived by her siblings Marilyn Robertson, Richard ‘Dick’ (Barb) Casper, Sharon (Harvey) Frandsen, her children Bill (Kate) Besendorfer, Ken (Shauna) Besendorfer, Doug Besendorfer, and Karen Zinn (Bruce), and her 6 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

The family would like to thank the loving nurses at the University of Utah Hospital (A50 Internal Medicine). They gave her comfort for the nine days she was hospitalized before her passing. They went above and beyond by orchestrating family video chats and phone calls, due to visiting restrictions for Covid 19. We feel grateful to know she had the best care.

A private graveside service will be held for immediate family at Memorial Mountain View Cemetery on Saturday, April 4, 2020 at 2:00 pm. Donna’s funeral services will be streamed. Please see instructions below.

Streaming of Funeral or Memorial Services

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Services Handled By

Memorial Mountain View Mortuary & Cemetery
3115 East 7800 South
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Life Story Info


Shannon Broadhead

Post Date

Apr 02, 2020

Personal Info




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I know Donna from U.S. West and Qwest where we worked at Bell Plaza downtown Salt Lake City. We had first names in common also. There was also a trip a bunch of us went on to California one time to be on the "Price is Right T.V. Show!" We had a most wonderful time taking in all the sights as well as the show. Donna was a sweetheart!

Donna Reid , Orem, UT, US Apr 19, 2020

As the first child of Donna I can say I have known her for 63 years. I have never known nor met a better person. She loved me unconditionally and never let me doubt it. In all the accomplishments I've made in my life, she was always there to support me and urge me on to be even better. When I made bad choices that surely embarrassed and humiliated her, she was still there, making certain that I knew she would never quit believing in me and never ever quit loving me. Mom had 4 kids in 4 years and 9 months, 3 rowdy sons, then her princess daughter. We were the terrors of the neighborhood and fortunate to live to adulthood. Mom never quit loving us. She was a stay at home mom for the first 15 years of my life, then abandoned by my father, which ended with a nasty divorce. She had to beg, barrow and scramble to keep us kids fed, clothed and with a house to live in. I remember her first job as a bagger at Harmon's grocery store, then a cashier, then the head of the deli department. Finally she got her "dream job" at Mountain Bell and never left until retirement. Through all the struggles and less than adequate circumstances, she never stopped loving us, and never spoke poorly of anyone else. She was one of the "peacemakers" referred to in the beatitudes. I know beyond any shadow of doubt that she is a "Daughter of God". Mom was full of life, loved to travel, played all kinds of games, enjoyed playing cards right up to her last month of life. She was quick witted and kind to all, never having to raise her voice or be demeaning to anyone. She enjoyed comedy and had a wonderful laugh. I'm going to miss her most on Sunday nights as her place is where I have spent my Sunday nights for the past 5 years. I'm just really glad to know that life is eternal, and that I will see her again in a perfected state. I LOVE YOU MOM ! And God bless you until we meet again.

Bill Besendorfer , West Jordan, UT, US Apr 02, 2020