Donald (Donny) Leon Brunner was born in Minot, N.D., on Jan. 25, 1955, to Tony T. and Grace Margaret (Hennessey) Brunner, and died unexpectedly at a Missoula, Montana, hospital on Dec. 22, 2018.
Though stricken with polio at age 3, Donny spent his life defeating all odds and overcoming every obstacle in his path. Don graduated from Ann Carlson School in Jamestown, N.D., and from Moorhead Tech in Moorhead, Minn. Donny traveled to Meonstoke, England, and won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic wheelchair rugby team. He worked as a machinist and a carpenter and eventually made his home with the love of his life, Diana Sue (Deats) Brunner in Polson, Mont. Donny’s sense of humor and infectious laugh will be missed by all who knew and therefore loved him.
Donny is survived by his wife, Diana Sue Brunner; mother, Grace Brunner; sister, Renee Brunner; brother, Rick Brunner; aunts, Sharon (Dick) Shaefer and Dorothy Anderson; stepsons, Troy (Liz) Ricciardi, Chester (Mandi) Ricciardi, Daniel (Jennifer) Ricciardi, and Nathan (Dandee) Ricciardi; step-grandchildren, Saren, Trista, Zoie, Iyla, Scotty, Devin and Payton; nieces, Nescha (Matt) Lee, Nicole Brunner, and Shyla (Ed) Bradshaw; great nieces and nephews, Connor, Jameson, Eric, Avery, Natalie, Jacob and Evelyn; and a number of cousins.
He is preceded in death by his father, Tony Brunner; maternal grandparents, Clarence and Effie (Harris) Hennessey; paternal grandparents, Mike and Barbara (Kuntz) Brunner; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.
A Celebration of Life and Christian memorial service and burial will take place in June.