• Last modified 551 days ago (July 23, 2020)



Donna Fruechting

A private graveside service will be at a later date for former hardware store owner Donna Claire Miesse Fruechting, 87, Marion, who died July 15, 2020, in Wichita.

Donna’s life began on Sept. 21, 1932, in Marion, a daughter of Orville and Clara (Gaunt) Miesse.

Donna was baptized in 1944 at Marion Christian Church. Growing up on a farm with only her brothers as playmates, Donna was a tomboy. She grew up loving horses, and riding them was her greatest passion. In the summer, Donna helped around the house, worked in the garden, gathered eggs, and milked cows. Saturday in town was a chance to have fun while her mother sold eggs and cream.

Taking lessons on the trumpet and piano instilled a passion for music. Donna also took voice lessons and dreamed of becoming a professional singer. She was a 1950 graduate of Marion High School and attended what is now Emporia State University.

Donna was united in marriage to James R. Fruechting on Oct. 16, 1955, in Marion, and they built a good life over 53 years of marriage. The couple lived in the District of Columbia briefly after being married while Jim completed his military service, then they moved to Marion, where they resided on several farms and raised cattle and chickens.

They moved to town after buying Marion Hardware and Gift Store and built two houses in Marion.

She was a lifelong member of Marion Christian Church and involved in all aspects of church including CWF president, program chair and treasurer. Donna guided the worship and scholarship committees for many years. She sang in the choir and served as choir director. Donna taught Sunday school and Vacation Bible School regularly and served as president of the Neo-Century Club for many years.

Donna worked for Marion High School and Farmers and Drovers Bank after high school. She loved accounting and worked for her sister, Dorothy Varenhorst, as bookkeeper for Van’s Clothing Store for many years.

When Donna and Jim bought the hardware store in 1975, she continued to manage the accounting as well as buy china, crystal, and appliances for the store. Donna also loved giving microwave cooking classes.

Donna’s children, grandchildren, and extended family members were her favorite pastime. She was always interested in their current activities and accomplishments. Playing the piano, singing, reading, embroidery, crocheting, and knitting also were her favorites, with many baby afghans and pillowcases as treasured gifts. Donna’s favorite activities were cooking for her family, helping with church dinners, and baking on Saturday mornings. She made the best cinnamon rolls, bread, cookies and, of course, cake for Jim.

Donna traveled with Jim to many state fairs to sell gooseneck trailers when Jim worked for Hillsboro Industries. They had a lake home in Bella Vista, Arkansas, while the girls were growing up, allowing them to take short vacations away from the farm. Other favorite trips took them to Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Spain. Jim and Donna enjoyed collecting depression and other antique glassware. One of Donna’s all-time favorite activities was to play pinochle for hours on end with her brothers and extended family.

Her loving family includes her children Claire (and husband Ross) Meredith, Sue (and husband Tim) Nyberg, and Pat (and husband Bill) Waswick, all of Wichita; grandchildren Ashley Meredith, Ryan (and wife Melisha) Meredith, Megan (and husband Jeff) Kimmel, Paul Enns, and Clayton, Adrienne, and Madison Chamberland; great-grandchildren Lydia, Matthew, Judah, and Melody Meredith and Alec Kimmel; her brothers Bill (and wife Mary) Miesse of Collierville, Tennessee, and J. B. (and wife Carol) Miesse of Marion; brother-in-law Dwight (and wife Donna) Fruechting of Clarksville, Tennessee, and a host of nieces, nephews, and friends.

Her parents, husband, brother Marvin Miesse and sister Dorothy Varenhorst, granddaughter Carrie Meredith and many beloved brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law, and cousins preceded her in death.

Memorial contributions in her name may be directed to Marion Christian Church or Marion Assisted Living. Please sign her online guestbook and leave a memory of Donna at

Last modified July 23, 2020