Donna Anderson Lay comes from hardscrabble beginnings that color her beliefs in life and politics. Born into poverty, Donna escaped the area for a short time before returning for a lifetime of hard work in nursing, hard work and firm beliefs in politics, and hard work while writing in retirement.
Born in Pitt County on what was once a large slave plantation, Donna’s childhood revolved around working the fields with her migrant farm family. Her dad never worked for a “share of the crop” but worked for low wages as they “followed the crops and lived on the fish we caught and the rabbits we killed in the winter” Donna allowed.
She continues, “I don’t know how Mama did it, but, because of the way she treated me, I rarely ever felt I was missing anything. She and Daddy always made me feel like I was special. Somewhere between the two of them, I learned to be me.”
“Mama believed every word in the Holy Bible and read it every day. Daddy was more superficial. He would tell you what you wanted to hear to save an argument. Mama would tell you the truth if it killed you.”
Donna left home as soon as she could. She traveled with a circus for a bit and then lived in South Carolina and Atlanta where she sang in night clubs. She met Bob, her Tennessee born husband while home in Washington visiting her mother. She decided to stay home with Bob and earned her nursing degree at Beaufort County Community College, her cardiac nursing degree at St. Mary’s School of Nursing associated with Saint Mary’s Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, and ANA Certification in Psychiatric Nursing while working at Pitt County Memorial Hospital.
Donna worked as head nurse at the County Nursing Home and then moved on to Pitt County Memorial Hospital. She recently retired from PCH with “with about 25-years of on-and-off service” with sixteen of those years in the Psychiatric Unit.
Donna worked for short periods as a travel nurse, hospice nurse, Home Health Nurse, real estate broker, and as Lead Nurse at the Walter B. Jones Rehab Center for Drug and Alcohol Abuse. She worked for a total of 39 years in nursing related jobs.
Husband Robert (Bob) Lay, Donna continues “worked for the most part at Warren Field Airport, both as Fixed Base Operator and in his own Aircraft Mechanic’s Shop at the Airport. He is also a commercial pilot. He retired from Warren Field about two years ago and moved to a private strip where his customers still come to him to have their airplanes worked on. He earned the most prestigious award the Federal Aviation Agency can bestow on an aircraft master mechanic a couple of years ago: The Charles Taylor Award.”
Bob and Donna have “one son, John Warren Lay who currently lives in Pitt County with his wife, Daphne Ann Lay.”
Bob is a lifelong singer and guitar player and he and Donna make music in “a gospel singing group called “The Way Markers where I serve as a backup singer” Donna relates. “I enjoy writing and have written songs for our Gospel Group.”
“I belong to the Tea Party because I believe we have problems in this Country that have not been addressed by either Republicans or Democrats as well as they should have been, and for the same reason, I work with a Constitution Studies Group. I believe in God and Country and am going to do all I can to help with getting our Country back on track.”
Donna’s retirement two years ago was hastened by the need to care for her mother, a blind, 25-year cancer patient. After her mother’s death, Donna turned her attention to writing. Using a lifetime of accumulated notes, Donna completed the manuscript for “Era!” in about three months. It took another three months to find a publisher and bring the novel to market in late 2010. Donna’s second novel “Johnny Walker Rose” and fun book
“The Pirates of Nags Head” are in progress. “There will be a sequel to Era!” she promises.
Donna has read excerpts of her novel “Era!” at PWG meetings. Please read some of Donna’s work on her author page at http://pamlicowritersgroup.org.