It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Donna Dorathea Mahlstedt, MD, on Monday, August 14, 2023, due to a brief and sudden cardiac event. Born on March 20, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York, to Mildred and Donald Mahlstedt, Donna's early life was characterized by her commitment to academics and service to others.
Raised in Queens, Donna attended Franklin Lane High School before earning her degree from Baruch College of the City University of New York in Manhattan. Her initial foray into the professional world began at the criminal court in New York City. However, with encouragement from colleagues and friends, she pursued a career in medicine. Donna achieved her medical doctorate from Rutgers Medical School in 1980 and completed her pediatric residency at Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia by 1983.
As a physician, Donna was not only remarkable, but caring for people was one of her most significant rewards. In her relatively short time practicing medicine, she achieved a legendary status within the medical community. Her dedication to the health and well-being of children led her to practice pediatrics in Warren Township. Yet, when blessed with motherhood, she retired from her practice to raise and nurture her two sons.
In 1978, during her internal medicine training, Donna met her soon-to-be life partner, George Reilly. Their bond grew quickly, and they were united in matrimony in 1980 at the First Presbyterian Church of East Williamsburg. Their marriage culminated in 44 years of loving commitment. Together, Donna and George celebrated life's milestones with their sons, Scott and Daniel, and extended family, including Scott's wife, Kim, their children, Jack and Rhys, and Daniel's girlfriend, Ceida.
Beyond her professional accomplishments, Donna was a woman of many passions. She held a deep reverence for the American Constitution, was a staunch patriot, and actively participated in politics. Nature beckoned her often. Whether it was summers spent in the Adirondacks, daily 6-mile hikes, or moments tending to her garden, Donna felt a profound connection to the world around her. This bond with nature extended to animals, with a special place in her heart reserved for her beloved cat, Nomar. Yet, of all the joys she experienced, nothing surpassed the happiness she felt being with her children and especially her grandchildren.
From her birth in Brooklyn to residences in Queens, Warren, New Jersey (from 1983 to 1996), and finally settling in Watchung from 1996 until her passing, Donna's journey was one marked by dedication, love, and resilience.