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Published: Monday, 12/29/2008

Court clerk volunteered at zoo and elementary

Donna Counts, 88, a former chief deputy of the Toledo Municipal Court and an avid volunteer in her retirement, died Saturday in Waterford Commons, her daughters said.

She suffered complications from pneumonia, her daughter Cynthia Yerton said.

Mrs. Counts was born in Napoleon and graduated from Flatrock Township High School in 1937.

She moved to Monroe, where she worked as a clerk in the Monroe County court system, her daughter Sandra Korb said.

In the late 1950s, Mrs. Counts moved to Toledo and around the same time adopted Mrs. Korb, who was 3.

Mrs. Yerton was about 4 years old when Mrs. Counts adopted her. "She did a great job teaching us how to be independent and take care of ourselves," Mrs. Yerton said.

Mrs. Yerton said her mother was a great cook and encouraged her and her sister to participate.

"It wasn't just her making the stuff and us watching," she said. "She was always encouraging us to get our hands into it too."

Mrs. Korb said she considered Mrs. Counts her mother in every sense of the word.

"She was very loving and caring," Mrs. Korb said. "She took very good care of us and tried to work too."

When Mrs. Counts' husband, Atlee, died in 1963, she raised her two daughters alone.

Mrs. Counts, who loved to travel, took her daughters to Washington shortly after their father died.

Mrs. Yerton, who was 7 at the time of the trip, said she has vivid memories of seeing the Declaration of Independence, visiting the Capitol, and the Jefferson Memorial. "It was something I never forgot," she said. "It made history really real."

After Mrs. Counts retired in 1989 from Toledo Municipal Court after 24 years, she kept busy by volunteering at the Kidney Foundation of Northwest Ohio, the Toledo Zoo, and Glendale-Feilbach Elementary School, where she was a teacher's aide.

"She couldn't sit still," Mrs. Korb said. "She was one that always had to be doing something."

In her mid 70s, Mrs. Counts took a bus trip around the border of the United States with family and friends.

Mrs. Yerton said her mother visited almost every state.

She said Mrs. Counts loved seeing other places and learning new things. She also enjoyed history. "You always learned something when you went with her," Mrs. Yerton said.

Mrs. Counts also enjoyed gardening.

She is survived by her daughters, Sandra Korb and Cynthia Yerton; brother, Norman Franz; eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Visitation is at Bersticker-Scott Funeral Home after 10 a.m. tomorrow, where funeral services will follow at 1 p.m.

The family suggests tributes to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, The Salvation Army, Project Hope, Operations Smiles, 700 Club, Hillsdale College, Cherry Street Mission, In Touch, and Turning Point.



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