Elizabeth D’Onofrio is the kind of person you can talk to for hours. Her warm manner and great sense of expression draw you in, and then she becomes so passionate and intense when she talks about her craft that she keeps you hanging on every word. Small wonder, then, that she is both an accomplished actress and acting teacher, and she has come to our Island with the desire to help our arts community evolve, by bringing her Method acting workshops to Ft. Myers Beach and becoming involved with our local theater.
On September 10, 1960, Hurricane Donna slammed into Fort Myers Beach with winds estimated at 140 miles an hour. It is widely regarded as the most destructive storm in our state’s history – causing 15 deaths in Fort Myers.
During the time of the storm Jane Hyatt Upsal’s mother, Kay Hyatt, lived in Fort Myers and owned a cottage at 5664 Estero Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach. The family had moved to Fort Myers from the Beach two years earlier because it was easier for the kids to catch the bus from there, but they returned to their cottage as much as possible. She wrote several letters to her mother-in-law, Leila, immediately after Donna had passed, detailing what she went through. The following story is taken directly from those letters and further interviews with Jane Upsal.