Site Navigation Menu Navigation
X Close

Elizabeth Arnold Donohoe

February 7, 1925 - March 26, 2020

Elizabeth Arnold DonohoeElizabeth Arnold Donohoe Johnston “Bessie”


Elizabeth Donohoe, known to friends and family as Bessie, passed away on March 26, 2020, at the age of 95.  On February 7, 1925 in Saltcoats, Scotland, a wee Scottish lass was born to James Johnston and Mary Waters.   Bessie was the middle child of five, and lived a happy childhood growing up in the coastal town of Saltcoats with cherished memories of spending time with her relatives from Ireland.   World War ll began in her teens, during that time she worked for the Gas Company.   She has many stories from that time, including the memory of sitting in the dark of night listening to the German bomber planes flying above.   When the war ended and the soldiers came home, she met returning British soldier and would-be husband George Donohoe at a dance in Ayr, Scotland.   Bessie and George wed in their hometown of Saltcoats at St Andrews Church on September 24, 1947.   Wanting to provide a better life for their family, the two immigrated to America and settled down in Salem, Oregon in 1949 while expecting their first child Irene.   Shortly after beginning their new life in Salem, both Bessie and George felt the distress of being away from home and their families, but soon were joined by Bessie’s siblings  Dora and Jim helping make the foreign city feel more like home.   Upon building their new life, Bessie and George made new friends and had two more daughters, MaryAnn and Janice. The family loved to vacation to Victoria BC and had
many trips to the Oregon Coast, both reminding Bessie and George of their homeland Scotland.   Bessie’s interests include family, friends, travel, baking and her involvement in various groups.   She loved to dance, play cards, socialize, tell stories and jokes.   She also loved to tell your fortune by reading your tea leaves!   Bessie traveled back home to Scotland several times, with her last trip being in 2014.   Bessie was active in her First Presbyterian Church, including participating in Kirkin O’ The Tartans representing her family’s Johnston tartan.   Bessie was involved in The Accent Club, Daughters of the British Empire, The Brits, where she developed wonderful, lifelong friendships.   She began working in the cosmetic department of Meier & Franks, then moved to JC Penney cosmetics for many years, retiring in the late 80's.   After losing the love of her life George in 1990, she kept busy by volunteering at the Salem Hospital for over 20 years, which she loved doing. She joined new groups which included church dinner groups, The Sunshine Girls, a group of four friends taking a monthly day trip making many memories.   Along with her friendships, the time she spent with her family and grandchildren were her life’s highlights.   Bessie was a wonderful mother, grandmother and friend who will be missed by all the lives she has touched in her 95 years.   She was resilient and lived life to the fullest.   Bessie is survived by her daughters Irene Alukonis, MaryAnn Hawks  (Lenny), and Janice Whitney (Dale), grandchildren Eric, Nicole, Jennifer, Ryan, Adam, Kyle and Oliver. Great grandchildren Jordan, Kenzie, Avery, Arvilla and Claire as well as many nieces and nephews. Bessie was preceded in death by her parents, James and Mary Johnston, husband George Donohoe, sisters; Sadie Shedden, May Johnston, Dora Odle and brother Jim Johnston.   A private graveside service is planned for May 2. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the charity of your choice in her honor.  Assisting the family is Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.


Sign The Guest Book

Add your condolences, memories, photo, or prayers in the area below. Thank you for sharing.

After submitting your guest book entry, it will undergo a brief review by the Virgil T. Golden staff to ensure that it's not spam and it's appropriate for the context of this obituary. Once this review is complete, your obituary will be posted publicly on this page.

Guest Book Entries

Bess was a very special lady to us.  Always so cheerful, caring and gracious.  We met her at Salem First Presbyterian church several years ago. And we attended her lovely 90th birthday party...what a memory.  God rest her soul.

John and Eileen Brown

What a sweet, sweet woman she was!  I have so many great memories of Bessie and her sweet daughter Janice!!  I will cherish them forever!  I was so honored to have known such an amazing lady...….I will miss you Bessie.  Love you Janice!