Obituary: Donna Elise Wilsker

Obituary: Donna Elise Wilsker

Donna Elise Wilsker, RN, MSN, aged 67, passed away in Beaumont on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.  At the time of her passing, she was surrounded by beloved family and friends.  Up until her death, Donna was an Associate Professor of Nursing at Lamar University, where she served for nearly 40 years.

Born Donna Elise Garbis in Bayonne, NJ, to Benjamin and Lillian Garbis in June of 1950, Donna always wanted a career in the medical field. To accomplish her lifelong goal, she attended the University of Bridgeport (Connecticut) as a Dana Scholar, graduating with a BSN in 1971.  Immediately after graduation, Donna enrolled in the MSN program at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, where she graduated with her Master’s in 1972.  Donna was then employed as an Instructor of Nursing at Catholic University, in Washington, D.C. While at Catholic University, Donna was recruited by the University of Maryland to teach in the growing Army nursing school at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing, known better by the acronym “WRAIN.”  In 1977, with the closing of WRAIN, Donna moved to Beaumont where she was hired by the Lamar University Nursing Program.

Serving the community was one of her core beliefs, and Donna had always been extensively involved in community service, actively serving on the boards and in executive positions of several area nonprofits including the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Eta Mu sorority.  Most recently, she served as board president of the Rape and Suicide Crisis Center, a position that she has held for over 20 years. Donna’s extensive contributions to community service were recognized with the Julie and Ben Rogers Community Service Award in 2010.

After being fixed up on a blind date, Donna met her life’s love, Ira Wilsker; they were married in 1973 and were married for 44 years. Together, they enjoyed camping, fishing, and travelling around the country.

In addition to her husband, Ira, she is survived by her loving family including her four daughters. Donna was exceptionally proud of her children, often boasting of their academic achievements, which included two high school valedictorians, one salutatorian, four bachelor’s degrees, four master’s degrees, a law degree, and a PhD.  Her children are Tammy Mermelstein of Houston; Dr. Amanda Wilsker of Suwanee, Georgia; Lesley Wallace of Wylie, Texas, and Dara Connor of Oxford, Pennsylvania.  Donna also loved her six granddaughters who are living in Texas, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.  She is also survived by her brother, Gary Garbis of Florida.

A private interment was held Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, at Hebrew Rest Cemetery, Beaumont, followed by a memorial service at at Broussard’s, Beaumont.

In lieu of flowers and other memorials, Donna had previously stated her intention that contributions be made to the Rape and Suicide Crisis Center of Southeast Texas, P. O. Box 3208, Beaumont, Texas, 77704.

Complete and updated information may be found at

— Broussard's