Donna Weber was many things: U.S. Navy nurse, Civil War enthusiast, horseback rider, avid reader. She was the wife of a U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, mother of three, and in many ways a sister to family and friends. The Winona native enjoyed knitting, … ↬ See all stories on this topic »
WINONA, Minn. —
Donna Weber was many things: U.S. Navy nurse, Civil War enthusiast, horseback rider, avid reader. She was the wife of a U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, mother of three, and in many ways a sister to family and friends.
The Winona native enjoyed knitting, crocheting and singing in her church choir. If she crossed paths with a stray animal, she was sure to give it a home.
Donna Weber was many things.
But no one ever guessed she was an author.
Donna died of breast cancer in May 2012 at age 61. Her daughter, Juliana Weber, and cousin, LuEtt Hanson, were sorting through Donna’s belongings in her New York home when Juliana stumbled on a book draft tucked inside an old cedar chest, the Winona Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/XuO04o). Sections of the story, featuring a Winona woman in the Civil War, were typed text and others written by hand. Many pages were worn and marked by edits appeared to have been made across nearly three decades.
“I don’t think anybody had any idea she wrote it,” LuEtt said. “It was a surprise to all.”
Donna mentioned the novel once or twice, Juliana said, but she wasn’t sure how seriously to take it. Donna generally kept to herself when she put her mind to something. It was uncharacteristic of her to brag.
Juliana was sure of one thing – the book needed to be published.
“My first thought was I would pay money for this book,” she said.
The story is set in Winona and features Beth MacLaird, the daughter of a skillful doctor, and her journey both fighting in war and falling in love with a war captain. At one point she sneaks away from home, disguises herself as a man, and departs for the battlefield, leaving the captain to wonder if he’ll ever see her again.