Cover photo for Donna L Arnold's Obituary
Donna L Arnold Profile Photo
1962 Donna 2024

Donna L Arnold

July 10, 1962 — June 8, 2024


Donna L. McLaughlin Arnold, a woman who lived by the motto, “Breathe & Believe,” lost her courageous battle with cancer on June 8, 2024 at her Plantation Key home with husband Bob Arnold and dear friend/physician Eileen Turbessi by her side. 


Born in Fairfax County, Virginia on July 10, 1962, she graduated high school in 1980 then quickly embraced island life in the Caribbean, exploring the undersea world as a diver and becoming a certified dive instructor with a specialization in underwater photography. She spent time in San Salvador Island, Bahamas, as well as Bonaire, a Dutch nation, and Cayman Brac, a British territory, each well known for amazing diving excursions. It was through her work that the underwater photography and videography world expanded throughout the Caribbean, work that landed her on the cover of Skin Diver magazine at least nine times in the 1980s and 90s.


She moved to the Upper Keys in 1992, joining the dive community as an underwater photographer and videographer and establishing McLaughlin Photo & Video. In 1995, she transitioned to above water work, shooting weddings and events for nearly 30 years, growing and expanding the business, which will remain one of her legacies.


Donna and Bob married on Dec. 5, 1996, at the Florida Keys Elks Lodge, uniting over their shared love of diving and photography. They welcomed son, Lance, in August 2001, and quickly became a family of water-loving adventurers. Together they enjoyed the beautiful and unique scenery of the Keys while boating, diving, fishing, lobstering, any activity that took them on, in and under the water. 


To describe Donna is to identify a woman, wife, mother, professional, friend, artist who possessed kindness, positivity and a love of adventure and travel, including an enthusiasm for the Tour de France, watching on television and from the roadside. Her gregarious personality embraced everyone she encountered with her easy smile.


In recent years she became actively involved in the local art scene, joining the Florida Keys Council of the Arts as an advisor, proudly promoting the arts council and its mission in the Upper Keys. She also served on the Monroe County Tourist Development Council’s Cultural Umbrella Grants Committee. 


In addition to Bob and Lance, she is survived by an extensive family, as well as a network of personal and professional friends who became family. This includes her father Jerry Schnabel and wife Cynthia of Port St. Lucie, Fla.; stepdad Don Wilson, Smith Mountain Lake, Va.; former stepmother Suzi Swygert, husband Elvis and daughter Julia, Bonaire; co-mom to Lance, Paula Vieceli and partner Randy, Islamorada; Chris McLaughlin and his extended family; Ken and Denise Nedimyer and family; sister-in-law Nancy Tollison, Seattle; brother-in-law David and his wife Anne, Augusta, Ga.; and so many more. 


She was predeceased by her mother Barbara Wilson. 


In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations in Donna’s memory to the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, 1100 Simonton St., Key West, FL 33040, or 


Live. Love. Laugh…Together!

To order memorial trees in memory of Donna L Arnold, please visit our tree store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, July 13, 2024

6:00 - 10:00 pm (Eastern time)

**Celebration of Life**
Donna Lynn McLaughlin Arnold
July 10, 1962 - June 8, 2024

Please join Donna’s husband, Bob and son, Lance, and other family members and friends on

Saturday, July 13, 2024 - Open House from 6 - 10 pm

at the Florida Keys Elks Lodge #1872
92600 Overseas Highway
Tavernier, Florida 33070

6:30 pm - Presentation
7:45 pm - scatter petals on the water at sunset

Please bring words of love to share and petals to scatter.

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