Obituaries: 01-19-23

Donna Nowak

Donna J. Nowak, age 92, of Naples, Fla., and formerly of Maumee, passed away on Monday, January 9. 

Born in Toledo on August 21, 1930 to Lester and Helen Luettke, Sr., Donna graduated from Libbey and Whitney High Schools in 1948. After attending Wartburg College, she moved to Houston, Texas, where she worked as a church secretary and where she met her future husband, Richard Nowak, who was also from Toledo. They married in 1953. They had three boys, Mark (Jacque), Dale and Dean (Jenny); four grandchildren, Connie, Victoria, Ciara and MacKenzie; and three great-grandchildren, Keegan, Brooklyn and Olivia. Donna is also survived by her sister, Barbara Emptage. She was preceded in death by her brother, Lester Luettke, Jr. 

Donna enjoyed painting, golfing, fishing and playing Bunco with her sister and was an accomplished bowler. She was a volunteer and lifelong member at St. Petri Church in Toledo. Donna will be remembered as caring and generous to everyone who crossed her path in life.  

Family and friends were received on January 13 at Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home in Maumee. The funeral service took place on January 14 at St. Petri Church in Toledo, followed by entombment at Toledo Memorial Park. Online condolences may be shared at


Barbara Basilius

Barbara Joyce Basilius passed peacefully in her sleep on Thursday, December 15. She was 93 years young. Weighted down here on Earth with canes and walkers, poor eyesight and a fading memory, there is no doubt she is back in the arms of her beloved husband Donny, dancing the polka, the stars in heaven her spotlight.

There isn’t much Barbara didn’t try in this lifetime.

An avid gardener, she surrounded herself with marigolds, geraniums and, when her son shipped them up from Florida by the boxful, gardenias. Flowers were her love language and she spoke volumes with the beds she tended and the parks she curated.

She had an insatiable curiosity for learning, taking correspondence courses in calligraphy and handwriting analysis, belly dancing, ice skating, cooking, astrology and travel. Never one to miss an opportunity for exploring, she spent time in Europe, Hawaii, Aruba and cruising the Caribbean. A lover of the sun, she found her happy place for years on Sanibel Island, basking on the beaches, walking with the tides and collecting sand dollars and periwinkle shells for her grandchildren.

When her own children were young, Barbara was the den mother of the block, hosting pool parties, block parties, baking cookies, welcoming straggling friends with open arms and pierogis, rouladen and spareribs a plenty. Christmas and Thanksgiving meals at the Basilius house were always a coveted invitation and Barbara made sure every guest had a stocking and a seat at the table.

When she wasn’t mothering, she was dancing. Bells in hand, she could always be found at the Elks or the Eagles, step-hopping her way around the dance floor. She once said she would not marry her husband-to-be unless he learned how to dance, at which he promptly enrolled in lessons. The two lived happily, cheek-to-cheek from then on for 68 years until his death in 2017.

Barbara is survived by her children, Dwight (Beth), Pam, Scott (Deni) and Brian (Candy) Basilius; grandchildren, Meagan (Jason), Drew, Kiersten (Yash), Molly (Ty), Nick (Erin), Alex, Mike (Victoria), Jade and Chelsea; and great-grandchildren, Silas, Will, Zoe, Rilyn, Kason, Sophia, Olivia, Ella and Bennett.

The family wishes to express their deep gratitude for the team at Brookdale Senior Living in Bowling Green for their loving care of Barbara over the years. The family is also immensely grateful for the services of Bridge Hospice Wood County at the end of her life and would kindly request that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to Bridge Hospice, 15100 Birchaven Lane, Findlay, OH 45840, or to a charity of choice in Barbara’s memory.

A viewing was held on January 7 at Walker Funeral Home in Toledo, followed by a prayer service and cemetery burial in Ottawa Hills Cemetery. 

Thomas Witte

Thomas Moulton Witte passed away on Monday, August 29, 2022, in Carmichael, Calif. Surrounded by his family, Tom passed with peace and love in his heart.

Born in Toledo to Charles and Mary Witte, most of Tom’s life was spent in Sacramento (Orangevale), Calif. Tom is survived by his children, daughter Danielle Witte, son Thomas Mason Witte, son Connor Jackson Witte and daughter Samantha Witte; brother, John (Lynn) Witte; and sister, Carol (Glenn) Rambo.

Retreating to California for law school meant that Tom could see more of something he loved the most, the sun. In the sun, surrounded by music and love, Tom was blissfully happy, as he was someone who insisted on living life on his own terms. Finding peace in owning his own law practice gave him the freedom he desired. He believed that life was too short to limit the way you lived and worked hard to achieve his own success.

While not working, Tom loved anything that had to do with sports. A “work hard, play harder” motto was how he lived his life. Basketball and football were two he found joy in the most. At an early age, Tom could be found on a basketball court, either with a team or shooting around with friends. Playing for the high school football team was a memory he always loved to share. Teaching his children how to throw a ball allowed his love for the game to continue. A diehard Detroit Lions and Tigers fan, Tom always had a game on in the background, whether it was on TV or sports talk radio. His contagious smile was often attributed to his love for the sun and frequent time spent either at the pool or on a beach.

He always took advantage of what life had to offer, whether it was taking the week off to go to Santa Cruz with his family or catching an A’s game in Oakland. For Tom, life was precious, and time was valuable, being around his loved ones was perpetually how he spent his days. Insisting on family get-togethers during the holidays, a few rounds of backgammon, or simply sharing a conversation were some ways Tom enjoyed life. He was a huge fan of turning the music up loud and dancing. Over the years, he took his family to concerts of bands he loved to listen to such as Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty.

Tom’s optimistic view of life never slowed him down and only fueled his lust for living. He never let the bumps in the road get him down or deter him from his goals. Everything had an answer, or a solution, and Tom constantly sought to figure out what that was. He worked hard his whole life to provide for his family; his children were consistently the No. 1 priority, and he showed that through unwavering patience and understanding. There wasn’t anything that Tom wouldn’t do for his children, nothing that would ever get in the way of his love and protection. Encouragement was something Tom never lacked when it came to them, and he was always faithful in expressing his pride and joy.

A memorial will take place for Tom in his hometown of Toledo on Saturday, January 21. Tom will be laid to rest next to his parents and a reception will follow. For more information, please contact the family at,

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