92-year-old great grandmother to jump out of plane Saturday.

July 31, 2020

92-year-old great grandmother to jump out of plane Saturday.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

GRANT TOWNSHIP — Dona Zack, 92, has checked some daring items off her “bucket list,” including attending the Electric Forest Festival and getting a tattoo, but her next feat is something few people have attempted. Dona is going to parachute out of an airplane Saturday morning, Aug. 1, in Grand Haven.

At age 87, the spunky great grandmother formulated her bucket list and continues to amaze her family and friends with her follow-through.

Dona at the 2015 Electric Forest Festival. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Siegel.

Dona, who grew up in Shelby, has six children, eight children and 20-plus great grandchildren.

She lives independently, mowing her lawn and tending to her beautiful flowers all by herself. Her husband passed away 10 years ago.

“I do confess that I do one side of the driveway at a time,” she said of her mowing duties.

It’s that outdoor activity that she believes keeps her young. “I love outdoor work,” she said. “Raking is one of my favorite things to do.”

At 4’9″ and 113 pounds, Dona packs a punch for such a petite person. She shoveled her own driveway in the winter until a couple years ago when her doctor told her to quit. “I loved doing it,” she said. “I made patterns in the snow.”

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Siegel.

“One time my brother just happened to stop by, and she was up on a ladder cleaning her roof,” her daughter Kitty Groendyk said. He said, ‘Mom you have to stop.’ This was a couple years ago.”

A double bypass surgery 17 years ago obviously hasn’t slowed her down. She voluntarily quit driving two years ago. “I was having trouble backing up,” she said. “So I said to myself, Dona this is the last time you’re going to drive.'”

“She won’t drive, but she will jump out of a plane,” Kitty said with a laugh.

Kitty said people often think they’re sisters because her mom looks so young.

Dona is one of eight siblings, and she is the only one remaining. “And I was the fifth one down,” she said.

Her sense of humor also keeps her youthful. “When I jump out of that airplane, I hope my dentures don’t fall out,” she said with a chuckle. “I don’t have any fear of doing it.”

She said she was inspired to sky dive after her granddaughter Danielle Siegel did it a few years ago.

Dona said she will be harnessed onto an experienced sky diver when she jumps. She consulted with her doctor before signing up to jump, and she gave her the OK, Dona said.

Several family members and friends will be gathered to watch her jump from the sky Saturday.

Dona has fond memories of her time at Electric Forest a few years ago. “It was a wonderful experience, and kids were so respectful. I was very impressed.” Living so close to the festival, she had always wanted to go inside and see what it’s all about.

Another “bucket list” activity Dona has planned is going horseback riding. “When I was young, we lived on a farm and we had a horse that my brothers and I got to ride,” she reminisced. “I just liked to bareback ride.”

She plans to go to nearby Rainbow Ranch and ride again — but with a saddle.

Kitty said she tried to convince her mom to do the horseback riding and then the skydiving. But, Dona insisted, “I’m going to save the horseback riding for when I get old.”

The spitfire grandma has another future “bucket list” activity up her sleeves that she’s keeping secret. “I might have my children a little concerned about what it might be,” she said with a grin.

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