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Donna Krebbs  in Dallas

Despite the work of both Donna and. Sam,, their marriage began to sway and strain because of their age difference. Donna was, just coming- bursting-into her own, as Sam was leaving his. They had never been in love; their relationship from day one had been more like teacher/student. Amicably, they agreed to a trial separation, and in March of 1979 Donna moved to 2701 Jessmine Street in Dallas. One night, when Donna couldn't bear to be alone, she went into the Longhorn Bar by herself and met a cowboy named Ray. Donna was startled by how instantly attracted she was to him. She cautioned herself and kept her distance but found herself wanting to get to know him. She ran into him several times there, and though constantly reminding herself that she was still married, still Sam Culver's wife, she could not bring herself to reveal it to Ray. The dilemma was taken out of her hands. Ray found out. She had felt badly for her deception (well, she never lied; she just didn't tell him), but now she felt relieved. Although distressed, Ray seemed to be still interested in trying 'to work things out, and Donna was prepared to make the final break with Sam. When she started to tell Sam, he gave her some news of his own: he was dying of cancer and had only months to live. Donna moved back into the Preston Hollow mansion and stayed at Sam's side until he died, shortly after the new year of 1980.

Donna started seeing Ray Krebbs again, and it got serious, but then they split up over Ray's feeling that they had absolutely nothing in common. The money Donna had inherited from Sam's estate-some $10,000,000 after taxes-did nothing to win the esteem of the Southfork foreman. Donna threw herself back into politics. She helped Sam's son Dave Culver, move from his State Senate seat into the U.S. Senate. She was also a major force in obtaining ratification of the Health Care Reform Bill of 1980. On the personal front, she was still yearning for Ray, but when the rather dashing; difficult Cliff Barnes started pursuing her, Donna started seeing him.

Since Cliff was also Dave's legal counsel, they mixed politics and pleasure. Cliff didn't appeal to Donna in the way Ray did, but he was the first man of her own age group that Donna had had in her life since college. So it worked for about seven weeks, until the fall of 1980, when Ray and Donna were reunited in love and quickly married. Donna moved into Ray's newly completed house on Southfork, and all seemed well for the newlyweds.

Donna and Ray Krebbs marry in Dallas

That same fall, Donna joined forces with Ellie Ewing and the Daughters of the Alamo to stop the Takapa development in East Texas. Eventually a suitable compromise was worked out, thanks to Bobby Ewing. In the middle of that lengthy proceeding, Donna was approached to run for the State Senate seat that Dave Culver had vacated, but she declined, stating that she had no interest in public office, She did, however, join the party committee with Phil McKenna, Charlie Rowe, and Mike Whittaker to convince her old class mate Bobby Ewing to run. He did and won.

Donna started editing Sam's memoirs and then decided to turn it into a definitive biography, focusing on his later years. She worked at home on this while Ray was immersing himself in real estate deals, an activity that worried her. Although she knew her husband was smart, she felt he was simply in over his head with the wheeling and dealing and horrendously complicated financing. She had never known him to so much as balance his check book before this.

Donna finished the manuscript at the end of the summer and sent it off to New York. In the fall of 1981, she was astonished and then pleased beyond words when Edward Chapman of Chapman & Whitnow offered $50,000 as an advance for Sam Culver: The Man and the Legend. Donna was elated, but her success came at a time when Ray was feeling like a failure. He was depressed, drinking too much, and openly resentful of her newfound career and success. It wasn't fair at all to Donna. The good Lord knew how she had slaved over that book, and now here was Ray robbing her of the gratification and pride she should have about her efforts. But Donna loved him so, worried about him so, that she tried to overlook his hostility.

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