Gillian Donaldson

Obituary of Gillian S. Donaldson

Gillian Sheen Donaldson, M.B.E., D.D.S.

Gillian Sheen Donaldson, grandmother, orthodontist, Olympian, and community volunteer died July 5, 2021 in her adopted hometown of Auburn, N.Y., U.S.A., surrounded by her family.

Gillian (née Sheen) was born August 21, 1928, in London U.K., daughter of Ronald and Ethel Sheen, the youngest of four children (Clive, Barry, and Annette) of the staunchly Victorian couple. Gillian attended North Foreland School, where she first started fencing, the sport for which she would later become well-known. As a school girl, Gillian survived the W.W.II bombing of London and always proudly exhibited the steadfastness that this era required. After school, Gillian attended University College Hospital in London where she earned her degree as an orthodontist.

It was her professional dental training that brought Gillian to the Eastman Dental Dispensary in Rochester N.Y., where she met the love of her life and husband Robert George Donaldson (d. 2004) with whom she had four children. Gillian maintained her professional skills by working with Bob in the family orthodontics practice which they maintained in Auburn for four decades. Gillian also established a dental practice on the island of Montserrat in the Eastern Caribbean to serve the Montserratians, who otherwise had no orthodontic care.

In addition to her dental work, Gillian did volunteer work with numerous Auburn civic initiatives and charities. Gillian also proudly served as a board member and President for the Auburn YMCA, for which she became a sporting advocate.

Gillian's love of sports was most evident from her success as a fencer. Gillian won the first of her 10 British national championships in 1949. Gillian also represented Great Britain in three Olympics (Helsinki 1952, Melbourne 1956, and Rome 1960) and won gold in 1956. Gillian maintained a life long love of the sport and she regularly served as a coach, volunteer, and referee well into her 60's. As all who knew her can attest, Gillian loved tennis, golf, and other sports and her competitive spirit always shone through.

Gillian is survived by her four children: Bruce (Meghan) Donaldson of Summit, NJ; John (Sarah) Donaldson of Denver, CO; Jane Donaldson of Jersey City, NJ; and David (Danielle) Donaldson of Irvine CA; and, her eleven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m., Friday July 9th, at the Episcopal Church of Saints Peter and John (169 Genesee Street). Calling hours will be held at the Langham Funeral Home (75 Genesee Street) from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday July 8th.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the YMCA-WEIU. http://auburnymca.org   
Arrangements by Langham Funeral Home.

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