John Donovan

Obituary of John F. Donovan

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John Francis Donovan passed away peacefully on September 23rd with his wife Jeanne by his side at his residence at Fox Run in Orchard Park, NY. In addition to Jeanne, he is survived by his children: John, Bill (Karen), Molly (Dirk Young), Joe (Anna), and Paul (Cris); his grandchildren Jenevieve (Conner Bystrom), Patrick, Liam, Amanda, Aidan Young, Clare, Eliza Young, Ella, Isabella, and Gavin; his step-grandchildren Lana Donovan Hearst, and Aliena, Wilhelm, and Alexander Aubrecht; his great-grandchildren Adeline and William Bystrom; and his sister Joan Norton. John Francis Donovan was born in 1927 in Rochester, New York, to John and Frances Donovan. After graduating from St. Thomas Aquinas high school, he enrolled in the Navy in 1945. After the war, he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on the GI Bill and graduated in 1951, receiving the Tau Beta Pi award for academic achievement and his BS in engineering. A member of the so-called Greatest Generation, John embodied the ethos of service to others, including ones' country, community, and family through sacrifice, loyalty, hard work and faith. After college, John applied his engineering degree to a job at Kodak in his hometown. While there, he reacquainted himself with a woman, Jeanne Drexelius, whom he had met a few years earlier. He wooed her away from her physician boyfriend by arranging for friends to give Jeanne an apple each day (to keep the doctor away). On September 3rd, they celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. John's intellectual curiosity led him to Georgetown Law School where he finished in a record two years and second in his class. In the decade that followed, John and Jeanne welcomed their five children. As a partner for the Buffalo law firm Phillips Lytle LLP from 1959-1992, John would eventually lead their labor law division. He worked alongside both labor and corporate leaders to settle countless disputes, carrying out the role that characterized him best -- peacemaker. John was a doer who, through quiet example, worked to build character in his children and managed his son's hockey teams, led the race committee for weekly sailing races and served as Junior Activities Director at the Buffalo Canoe Club in the 1970s and 80s, and volunteered for the homeless (Little Portion Friary), the challenged (as Gateway Longview's in-house counsel), and the aged (Episcopal Church Home). In the 1970s during the height of the Irish Troubles, John served on the Board of the Belfast Summer Relief Program. In addition, he served on the Boards of the Episcopal Church Home, Canterbury Woods, and Gateway Longview. When he retired, John spent more time with family and friends, graciously hosting visitors with Jeanne in Buffalo and Canada, and sharing his elegant and thoughtful counsel. Fair winds and following seas, Big D. The family is deeply grateful for the care given to John by Gretchen Markarian and Colleen Riker. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to Gateway Longview ( A memorial mass will be said at St. Louis church in Buffalo at a later date to be announced. A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday July 22, 2022 at 9:30am in St. Louis Roman Catholic Church 780 Main St. (corner of Edward St.) Buffalo NY 14202.


9:30 am
Friday, July 22, 2022
St. Louis Roman Catholic Church
780 Main St.
Buffalo, New York, United States
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John Donovan

In Loving Memory

John Donovan

1927 - 2021

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