Donna J. Tanaka

Donna J. Tanaka, a resident of Coronado for 36 years, passed away on Sept. 10, 2021. She passed peacefully in hospice after an extended illness due to a stroke. In her final days, many of her loved ones were able to visit and say their goodbyes. She leaves behind her children Mandy Book, Colleen Young and Victor Tanaka; grandsons Connor Young and Mikey Tanaka; siblings Joanne Myers, Betty LeZotte, John Strong and Jeff Strong; as well as many nieces, nephews and in-laws who all loved her deeply.

Donna was born in Dalton, Massachusetts, the eldest child of Donald and Vivian Strong. She and her four siblings spent an idyllic childhood in the small western Massachusetts town of Lanesboro. In 1961, she married and followed her husband, William Book, around the country as he completed his military service, finally settling in 1963 in Coronado, the place she always felt most at home. Donna met many of her closest friends in those first years in Coronado and they remained her confidants, playmates, and support system throughout her life. Life circumstances forced Donna to leave her beloved Coronado to live for a time in various parts of California and Florida. However, in 1985 she returned to the city she loved so much and was able to remain here in Coronado. 

Donna was a positive and strong person regardless of her circumstances, raising three children mostly on her own, and often working two jobs. She was beautiful, kind, funny, and quirky and she collected friends and admirers easily because of her warmth and caring soul. In the last few years, she had been a resident at Sharp Villa Coronado, and made many friends among the other residents and staff, a testament to her positive outlook on life and her easy ability to charm people wherever she went.

Donna worked primarily as a private bookkeeper and could remember where every scrap of paper had ever been filed for her clients. After she retired, she helped provide hospice and friendship care for families, a job she enjoyed immensely. She also loved spending time with her family, and large family reunions at the beach were her favorite type of vacation.

She adored fashion and was always dressed impeccably, with a great sense of style and whimsy. Her famous passion for shopping also showed the generous spirit she had, as she often shopped for a friend or family member. She was a person you could count on, and she would literally give you the shirt off her back (or one of her many bathing suits!) if you were a friend in need. She donated much of her time to the Friendship School and actively supported Camp Able after her grandson Mikey was born with disabilities. As a doting grandma, she spent as much time as possible with Mikey. In her free time, she loved meeting her friends for a snack, a cocktail, or a water aerobics class. She was famous for her hors d’oeuvres, including her amazing wontons and crab Rangoon.

Donna was one of a kind and will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

A celebration of life will be held on Oct 16, 2021, 1 to 4 p.m. at 707 Orange Avenue, Coronado. All are welcome. Please wear something she gave to you, and/or bring a photo or story to share.

In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests a donation to one of her favorite charities, Camp Able, at, or Friendship School, 525 Third Street, Imperial Beach, CA 91932, 858-298-2213.

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