Published: January 3, 2023
AMSTERDAM, N.Y. — Donna L. Reston, 84, an antiques dealer who was quite well known in upstate New York, passed away peacefully on December 21, 2022, two days after receiving a brain injury resulting from a fall. Her son James was by her side when she passed.
The daughter of the late Thomas Lees and Leona Lees (Canary), Donna was born on August 17, 1938. She resided in Amsterdam her entire life. She received her high school diploma from Amsterdam High School and bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees (in history and social studies) from the University at Albany.
Donna began her career as a high school history teacher at Scotia-Glenville High School from 1960 to 1968 and continued her teaching career at Fonda-Fultonville High School from 1968 to 1979. In 1980 she left teaching to become a full-time, self-employed antiques dealer; the business was called Reston’s Books and Antiques and continued until her death.
Donna was passionate about Mohawk Valley history and cared deeply about preserving local cultural heritage. She spent many years as a member of the Palatine Settlement Society helping to restore the historic 1747 Nellis Tavern in St Johnsville, N.Y., contributing not only to building and restoration work but also making several donations of antique furniture, which are now on display in the tavern’s interior rooms. She was also proud of her numerous sales of historic items to the New York State Museum in Albany, N.Y., as a contribution to preserving New York state cultural history. During her career she helped inspire interest in local historic artists, including Fritz Vogt and Claude Mann, not only selling their work but also writing several newspaper articles promoting their work.
Donna loved life and loved meeting new people, often striking up a conversation with complete strangers who became fast friends. She had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh with her friends; anyone who knew her well will remember her laugh. She inspired many of her students and other people who knew her to love teaching, local history and antiques (some even followed her life path by becoming teachers and/or antiques dealers themselves). She also loved feeding the numerous squirrels, chipmunks and birds that visited her backyard deck.
Donna is survived by her son, James T. Reston, and close cousins Eugene Lees, Kathleen Oakes, Timothy Oakes, William Oakes, Judy Phillips and numerous other cousins.
Donna was predeceased by her father, Thomas Lees, mother, Leona Lees (Canary) and husband, Rodney Reston.
Donna’s family has chosen to mourn privately in lieu of a funeral service but plans a memorial service celebrating her life to be conducted later (date to be determined). Cremation has taken place through the care of Simple Choices, Inc.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her name can be sent to: Palatine Settlement Society, PO Box 183, St Johnsville, NY 13452.
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