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Donna Benton James

Former Durango resident Donna Benton James died of breast and brain cancer Tuesday, June 25, 2013, in El Cajon, Calif. She was 57.

Mrs. James was born to Cecil and Mary Ellen Benton on Aug. 24, 1955, at the old Mercy Hospital in Durango. She grew up here, attending local schools and graduating from Durango High School in 1973.

On Sept. 25, 1980, she married James B. James in Durango. The couple moved to San Diego the following spring, where Mr. James attended law school and later practiced law. The marriage ended in divorce.

Mrs. James worked at the University of California at San Diego and later at the University of California at Tustin.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from San Diego State University in 1999.

An avid reader, she enjoyed both fiction and nonfiction. Mrs. James loved gardening and surrounding herself with beautiful flowers and plants. She and her family visited Durango often, rafting and hiking in the summer and fall and skiing in the winter. Her family said she missed the changing seasons.

“Donna was compassionate and loving,” her family said. “She enjoyed life with an amazing spirit and a beautiful smile.”

Mrs. James is survived by her daughters Dana Rae James of San Diego and Shelly Melissa Jerman of El Cajon; parents, Cecil and Mary Ellen Benton, of Durango; sisters Carol Benton Melcher of Ignacio, Charlene Benton Goff of La Plata, N.M., and Deborah Benton Whitley of Santa Fe; brother, Howard Lloyd Benton, of Grand Rapids, Mich.; one grandson; and four nieces and one nephew.

Cremation has occurred. At her request, there will be no memorial service. A celebration of life was held Saturday, July 6, 2013.

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