On Friday, November 5, 2021, Donna Archer, loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend passed away in her home.
Donna Marie Fonsetto was born on July 29th 1943 in Teaneck, New Jersey. She was previously married to Roy Archer with whom she had two sons, Roy Archer Jr. and Timothy Archer. She had a long and varied career as a nurse, working predominantly in New York City, as well as in northern New Jersey and Cooperstown, before retiring in 2014.
Influenced by her son Roy’s challenges, and driven by a belief in human dignity, Donna spent years fighting for the rights of people with special needs. Whether it was writing to a politician, showing up to a march, serving on a board, or just making sure someone received the extra care they needed, she was a tenacious and uncompromising advocate for people with disabilities.
Donna had a strong creative passion for interior design that she expressed with an assertive and carefully honed style her entire life. She was often sought out by family, friends, and new acquaintances for her instinctual eye for what works and her experience in developing savvy design solutions. She did not mind being copied and was quick to praise someone else’s originality, resourcefulness and taste. It was not unusual for a friend to show up to Donna’s house with a complete stranger, explaining that they needed to show the person what Donna created, paint colors chosen for a certain room, or an ingenious furniture makeover.
She loved to laugh with friends and family and was always working to understand, learn from, and forgive others -- usually over ice-cream (or her true favorite, frozen custard). She truly loved, constantly praised, and cheered on those around her. Known for her warmth, kindness, perseverance, and sense of humor, Donna had many close friends who were dear to her from her youth and was regularly forming new friendships with others. Even in her final months, her life was full with both old and new relationships, with her care-givers singing her praises as someone they felt they really knew and wished they had always known.
Like most grandparents, her final and greatest source of happiness was her grandchildren, Jude and Lila Archer, son and daughter of Timothy Archer and his wife Kim Kessler. Whether taking them “down the shore” or giving them a magical Christmas celebration, her main goals were to ensure they knew how cherished they were, and to instill fantastic memories of this beautiful life. She succeeded.
In addition to her son and his family, Donna also leaves behind her loving sister Debbie Witte and her husband Paul, Debbie’s daughter Alissa Savage and husband Matt, son-in-law Chris Brooks, and Debbie’s grandchildren; her nephew Dean Marchesani and his wife Cheryl and their children Nick and Joey; and her niece Kimberly Scorese with whom she shared an especially close and unique relationship, and Kim’s children Joseph and Noelle. The family’s joys, losses, concerns, and triumphs were Donna’s as well. She was predeceased by her son Roy, sister Barbara Marchesani, niece Tia Brooks, and grandnephew Vincent Scorese. She will be greatly missed.
Donations in her memory may be made to The Arc of Bergen & Passaic Counties (Attn: Kathy Walsh), 223 Moore Street, Hackensack, NJ 07601.