Donnalyn C. (“Honey”) Twyman (nee Keim) of Orlando Florida and formerly of Lincroft, NJ died of natural causes on Saturday, May 27, 2023. Her husband Robert (“Bob”), her son Douglas, and daughter Aimee had all visited with her only minutes before her death.
It was undoubtedly a cold night in Fargo, North Dakota, when, on January 18, 1938, Honey was born. She was of Norwegian and German heritage, the daughter of Ted and Aimee Mjogdahlen Keim. The family moved from the cold of Fargo to The Windy City of Chicago in the late 1940’s, where Ted had a business selling mobile homes. As a side note, Ted was a very early private pilot. No one is sure when he started flying, but his private pilot license number was 12.
Due to reasons relating to health, Ted retired in 1947, bought land on the shores of Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and built a home. This move provided Honey the opportunity to discover water skiing. Before long, Honey was a professional water ski show skier at Lake of the Ozarks, participating in the parade of flags and being the girl at the top of the pyramid. But her real love was the swivel ski, where she could perform a variety of tricks including skiing backwards while holding the rope on her foot, and deep water starts on one ski – backward. These tricks are somewhat commonplace today, but in the 1950’s, this was some radical show-stopping stuff.
Bob and Donnalyn met in 1959 at the University of Missouri (Go Tigers!) on a blind double date. Bob was “fixed up” by one of his ATO fraternity brothers with a cute gal from the Tri Delta sorority. Amusingly, Bob was fixed up with the other sorority sister, but he and Honey hit it off and soon were dating. A mutual interest in water skiing was an early bond, but like other skiing couples, quality boat driving was sometimes lacking, and Bob’s skills getting Honey up on her ski after she stuck her head under water holding her breath for a backwards deep water start often led to Honey nearly drowning. Long story short, she didn’t drown and on June 25, 1960, they were married.
After graduating from “Mizzou,” Bob took a job with Owens Illinois as an executive in a plant making plastic bottles, then a cutting-edge product. Bob rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a general plant manager specializing in turning around under-performing facilities. Along the way, Bob and Honey lived in Kansas City, where Honey taught school in Bob’s hometown of Hickman Mills until Doug came along in 1961, followed by Aimee in 1964. In 1965, Owens Illinois transferred Bob to a plant in Chicago, so the family moved to LaGrange, Ill. In 1974, Bob was promoted and transferred to an O.I. plant in Edison, NJ, and the family relocated to Lincroft, NJ where they lived for the next 35 years until Bob (sort of) retired.
Honey was a tireless mother, always on the go with her children and their activities, whether it be Doug’s baseball games or track meets, or Aimee’s figure skating. She continued water skiing until the late 1990’s. Her last ride was skiing triple with her daughter Aimee and her then six-year-old granddaughter Grace on Lake Placid. She was an avid tap dancer; dancing in recitals and shows into her 60’s, often with her granddaughter Erin Twyman. She was a fantastic cook, even if every recipe started with a stick of butter and led to a wave of high blood pressure across Central New Jersey. She loved to entertain her friends and neighbors -usually one in the same- around the pool in the summer or the family room and kitchen in the colder months. Thanks to her son Doug, she acquired a lovely collection of vintage and non-vintage lawn jockeys. She and Bob would often unwind with their collection of antique clocks.
Like all of us, Honey had her vices. Hers was feeding her son-in-law’s dog from the table and then adamantly denying it, even when caught red-handed.
“Nanny” to her grandchildren, she was famous for her Snoopy waffles. She taught her eldest granddaughter Erin to cook and even danced alongside her in recitals. Nanny was so proud of her grandchildren's athletic and educational accomplishments. Erin also played field hockey and lacrosse. Grace was a D1 equestrian and collegiate water skier. John (“Joe”) was a nationally competitive snowboarder and water skier. Dillon played baseball, soccer and lacrosse. Colin play baseball and set records in track. Nanny loved watching her grandchildren grow and succeed. In the words of her granddaughter Erin: "Nanny was the best grandmother you could ask for. She always put her grandchildren first, ensuring they always left her house with a full stomach and even fuller heart."
Honey is survived by her husband of nearly 63 years, Bob Twyman of Orlando, FL, her son Douglas and his wife Michele of Sea Girt, NJ and their children Erin of London, UK and her fiancé Christopher Mezey, also of London, Dillon of New York City and Colin of Sea Girt. She is also survived by her daughter Aimee Wilkins and her husband John of Orlando, FL and Lake Placid, NY, and their daughter Grace Wilkins and her husband Richard Walters of Charleston, SC. Honey had one great-grandchild, Lucy Walters of Charleston. She was predeceased by her parents, her sister Danny Bartlett O’Rourke, her brother Billy Keim, and by one grandchild, John M. Wilkins of Lake Placid, NY.
Honey will be buried in Memorial Park and Green Lawn in Kansas City, MO. Her funeral will be held on Monday, June 5 at Park Lawn Funeral Home in Kansas City. The family will greet friends and relatives beginning at 12:30 with the service to begin at 1:30. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a (tax deductible!) donation be made to the John MacKenzie Wilkins Scholarship Fund, New York State Ski Education Foundation, Whiteface Mountain, 5021 Route 86, Wilmington, NY 12997. A link to the scholarship fund is here: https://www.nysef.org/wilkins-