Cover photo for Chester Dwight Donaldson's Obituary
Chester Dwight Donaldson Profile Photo

Chester Dwight Donaldson

September 1, 1945 — June 24, 2024

Mills River

Chester Dwight Donaldson

Chester Dwight Donaldson, 78, of Mills River, N.C., passed away peacefully at home on Monday, June 24, 2024. He leaves behind a family and friends who loved him dearly and cherished his beautiful soul. 

Dwight was born and raised in the mountains of Canton, N.C. He was a proud graduate of Canton High School, Class of 1963, and loved attending his class reunions throughout his life. He grew up playing baseball and fast pitch softball and earned a spot on teams that traveled across North Carolina and other states playing the game he loved. 

Dwight was called upon to serve his country in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He was a Sgt. E-5 and served from 1967-1969. 

Afterward, he spent the first half of his career in Atlanta, Ga., working for Southern Bell and later, AT&T. There he started a family with his first wife, Sue Sisson Donaldson, raising two boys, Kelly and Keith Donaldson. 

During the second half of his career, he moved back to his maternal home in Canton, N.C., to become a successful general contractor and land developer. Along with his brother Gene and many other kindred craftsmen along the way, they built over 100 homes in Haywood County and the surrounding WNC region. During this time, he married his second wife Kathi Jo Haynes Donaldson in 1991, whom he loved dearly for the remaining 33 years of his life.

Dwight enjoyed watching most sports and pulled vigorously for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels through thick and thin. In the later part of his life, he attended all home football games at Kenan Stadium with Kathi, as well as several basketball games at the Dean Dome. They were proud members of The Rams Club. They also enjoyed traveling the United States in their motor home and spent many special years at Lake Chatuge in Hayesville, N.C., and Hilton Head Island, S.C., among other destinations. 

Dwight was an avid golfer and loved competing and winning. He was impeccable on the links, earning many trophies and tournament titles. He earned the right to play in golf tournaments in Hawaii and other states for his prowess on the course. He shot his age up until he couldn’t play any longer. 

Dwight was simply the most giving father and husband. There’s nothing he adored more than supporting his family.

Dwight was preceded in death by his mother, Lorene Swanger Donaldson and father Milas Barringer Donaldson of Canton, N.C.; his youngest son Keith Alan Donaldson of Canton, N.C./Beaumont, Texas; his sister Shirley Donaldson Ayers (Charles) of Canton, N.C.; a brother Gene Donaldson (Elaine) of Canton, N.C.; his oldest brother Rufus Donaldson, of Hayesville, N.C.; and his father-in-law Wiley Horace “Skip” Haynes of Clyde, N.C.

He is survived by his wife Kathi Jo Haynes Donaldson of Mills River, N.C.; his oldest son Kelly Dwight Donaldson (Julie) of Webster, N.C.; his brother Roger Donaldson (Vicky) of Hayesville, N.C.; his mother-in-law Barbara Brady (Joe) of Asheville, N.C.; step-grandchildren Katie Minyard (Mike) of Tampa, Fla.; Sarah Spiro (Brandon) of Lake Fontana, N.C.; and Abby Spiro of Boone, N.C.; and step-great grandchild Memphis Minyard of Tampa, Fla; along with many other nieces, nephews and cousins.

The family would like to express what an enormous hole has been left by this loss of life. Dwight was an impeccable man, a true southern gentleman, and a tremendous son, husband, father, brother, and friend. He will be dearly missed and never forgotten. 

The family would also like to thank the Veterans Affairs Hospital of Asheville, N.C., and his amazing at-home caregivers during the last few months of his life. There are truly angels among us. 

The family will hold a private service at a later date. 

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Hop on a Cure, to help fund research for a cure to ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease. For more information, visit and consider dedicating your donation to the memory of Chester Dwight Donaldson. 

The care of Mr. Donaldson has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Home of Canton and an online memorial register is available at “Obituaries” at


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