Donna Lee Baum

Donna Lee Baum

Donna Lee (Cantwell) Johnson Baum, 80, of Vincennes, passed away on Thursday, March 19, 2020 at BridgePointe Health Campus.

Donna Lee Baum

Donna Lee Baum

She was born on Nov. 16, 1939 in Knox County to Donald Lincoln Cantwell and Erma Grace (Enley) Cantwell. She grew up in Verne and graduated from Monroe City High School in 1957. After high school, she moved to Indianapolis and graduated from the International Beauty School in 1958 and Patricia Stevens Modeling School in 1959. She married Ben Johnson, the chairman of the physical education department at Vincennes University where he was also the track and cross country coach, in 1959. She later married to Jerry Baum, a regional and international mission watercolor artist, in 1991 and he survives. 

Donna is also survived by two children, Jerry Johnson of New York City, and Sherry Johnson Smith and her husband, Mike, of Vincennes; two grandchildren, Jasper Smith and Lincoln Smith of Chicago; three step-daughters, Catherine Newlin Bechtel, Jennifer Gieselman, and Julia Bauer; and seven step-grandchildren. Her brother in-law, William Johnson, of New York City, and sister-in-law, Sandra Lunney, of Hershey, Pennsylvania, also survive.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her ex-husband, Ben Johnson; her brother, Dr. Edgar R. Cantwell and his wife Betty (Phipps) Cantwell; her sister, Z. Jean Cantwell; her nephew, Mark Cantwell; and her niece, Crystal Cantwell.

After being a homemaker and stay-at-home mother when her kids were young, she later worked as receptionist for Drs. Hippensteel, Stewart and Combs, manager of Kings Food Host in Vincennes and Hilton Hotel in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. She served as Catering Manager and General Manager for Bob Green Executive Inns in Vincennes, Evansville, Paducah and Owensboro, Kentucky, in the 1980s-90s. While married to Jerry Baum, she lived in Monterey, California, Santa Claus, and Vincennes.

Donna’s memberships include Indiana Presbyterian Church, a lifelong member of Pals of Yesterday, Francis Vigo Chapter, DAR and the Grouseland Foundation. She founded the local chapter of Sweet Adelines (a ladies barbershop vocal group) in the 197os under the direction of Bessie Hatton; while married to Ben Johnson she was active in the local Jaycees and VU Faculty Wives club. She was designated as an honorary Kentucky Colonel by former Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins. She was an adept organizer and spearheaded many events. She loved to play Bridge and started the first social Mahjong group in Vincennes. Donna had a love for the community and a passion for promoting historic Vincennes. She was instrumental in planning, fundraising, and supervising the design and installation of the “Tecumseh” monument on the Vincennes Riverwalk (sculpted by artist William Toth) and was awarded a certificate for “Chief Tecumseh Day” by the Mayor of Vincennes in 2009.  

Donna was also proud of her Lincoln family heritage. There are no direct descendants of President Abraham Lincoln; only cousins remain. Donna is a first cousin (four generations removed) to the President through her paternal grandmother, Sophia Lincoln Cantwell.  Donna enjoyed planning and hosting the annual Lincoln Family Reunions held at the Verne Store, and sharing family history.

Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, a memorial service for her will be announced at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to the Knox County Community Foundation’s “Cantwell Family Fund.” Checks may be made to the foundation and mailed to 20 N. Third St., Vincennes, IN 47591. Please include her name or “Cantwell Family Fund” on the check. Goodwin-Sievers Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Donna Baum.


Jordan, Alan Wilber, died March 11. Services: 11 a.m. today at Fredrick and Son McClure Utt, Vincennes Chapel, 313 Church St. Burial: Oaktown Cemetery. Condolences:


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