Mother of 13, grandma of 75, great-grandmother of 120, celebrates milestone birthday

Donna Crosby is known to her family as “Grandma” and it’s a fitting name because this matriarch is the mother of 13, grandmother of 75 and great-grandmother to 120. (KWTX)
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 12:08 PM EDT
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GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX/Gray News) – Donna Crosby is known to her family as “Grandma” - which is fitting as she’s the mother of 13, grandmother of 75 and great-grandmother of 120.

She and 284 other people, mostly family, gathered in Texas Saturday to celebrate her 90th birthday, according to KWTX.

“I’m so thankful for Grandma and the legacy of faith and family that she lived and that she modeled for us and continues to model for me and my children,” said grandson Andrew Crosby, 39.

The family ate, visited and sang together – something Grandma’s family has been doing together for nearly a century.

Granddaughter Danie Beth Crosby, 35, traveled the farthest from Honolulu, Hawaii, and 4-month-old great-grandson Ezra Timothy Parrish was the youngest in attendance.

Donna Crosby gathered with friends and family at Grace Bible Church in Gatesville Saturday to...
Donna Crosby gathered with friends and family at Grace Bible Church in Gatesville Saturday to mark her 90th birthday.(KWTX)

“Our mom is strong and resilient,” said son Timothy Crosby, 70. “She did everything necessary to raise us. She took care of our home, all the meals, washed all our clothes and most of what she cooked around our home was from scratch.”

Donna was a woman of humble beginnings. She and her twin sister, Delores Ann, were born on April 28, 1932, to Eldon and Edna Riethmiller, in Mason, Michigan.

At age 8, Donna’s family moved to Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where she and her four sisters were raised.

Donna met her future husband, Russ Crosby, on the school bus the first day of seventh grade when Russ was a new student. He later told his mom on that first day, “Oh momma, I’m gonna love this new school.”

Donna with her husband (right) on their wedding day.
Donna with her husband (right) on their wedding day.(Courtesy Photo)

Donna and Russ were married on Sept. 5, 1950, and were together, and much in love, until his passing in 2011.

“When we got married, my husband told me he wanted a dozen boys,” Donna laughed. “But I told him one time I thought he was only kidding, but I had five that way, but he loved all the children and wanted them all, too.”

The Crosbys ultimately had nine sons and four daughters.

While raising such a large family came with its hardships, Donna said she never lost her focus.

“I put important stuff first and always was taking care of the children, that was the most important,” Donna said. “That was my priority that they were well taken care of before I did anything else.”

Since 2011, when Russ passed away, Donna has not had a permanent home.

Her family says she lets her “spirit of adventure in travel” help her decide which of her 13 kids to stay with and for how long.

As for her secret to a long life and legacy of love, Donna points to her faith and priorities and says to always remember age really is just a number.

“I don’t feel old at all. I just feel young,” she laughed. “Because of my family, I feel young. They make me feel young. They’re so good.”

She says she’s already planning her next big adventure with family.

“Oh, I’m leaving in June for two weeks to go home to Pennsylvania with Jon and Shirley. Then in September, I’m going to the beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama with Sam and Jan,” Donna said. “Then, I’m going to talk somebody into taking me to Alaska, the only state of the USA that I’ve not visited.”

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