Saturday, July 16, 2011

Happy Birthday to my Grandma Donna M. Madsen Bartram (1919-1916)

Today would have been the 92nd birthday of my maternal grandmother, Donna M. Madsen Bartram. Grandma was born July 16, 1919, in Livermore, Alameda County, California, to Louis Hansen Madsen and Johanna Bruhns Madsen. She grew up as a cowgirl in and around the Livermore area with her sister, Rae, and brother, Lloyd.

As a young girl, Donna met a dashing cowboy named John Bartram, and they were married in Reno, Washoe County, Nevada, on March 26, 1918. Grandma and Grandpa raised four children: Clinton James (1938-2001), Brenda Rae (living), Rebecca Elizabeth (my mom, living) and Clay John (living).

Sadly, Grandma and Grandpa were in a tragic car accident in 1959, in which they were hit by a drunk driver. They both survived the accident, but Grandma was left with severe brain damage. Complications from the accident, along with diabetes, led to Grandma Donna's passing at too young an age. She died on February 12, 1966, at the Napa State Hospital in Napa, California.

I was still a baby when Grandma Donna passed away, so I didn't get to know her in person. However, her memory lives strongly in our family and I still love hearing stories about this strong woman who raised four kids -- and her handful of a husband --  with an iron will (and sometimes iron pan...). Her presence is still greatly missed in the family, by her family who knew and loved her as well as by her grandkids who wish we could have got to know our Grandma Donna.

Happy Birthday, Grandma!


  1. What a great story...well, all except for the tragedy. I especially love that first photo of her!

  2. Thanks, Lisa. I sure wish I could have known her. From the family lore, she was quite a spitfire. I'm really enjoying your posts, too.

  3. Happy Birthday to your Grandma! She would have been a fun grandma for sure!