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Francis R. Donovan

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Memories & Candles

“I wish I felt more comfortable with the claim that we "served in the military together" but the truth is that as a Lieutenant Commander at the time,...Read More »
1 of 95 | Posted by: Kathryn Hichborn - Stafford, VA

“Having respected him second only to my own father, I often shared with my future troops that if (then) Captain Donovan announced at quarters that...Read More »
2 of 95 | Posted by: Stephen Robillard - Bluffton, SC

“Francis was one hellva naval officer and that do not make like that anymore he showed me a side of the navy that I will never forget. I love that...Read More »
3 of 95 | Posted by: JOSEPH JOHNSON - San Diego, CA

“Vice Admiral Donovan was our X.O., (He was a Commander at that time), when I was on board Belleau Wood. Got into some trouble and he could've had...Read More »
4 of 95 | Posted by: John Sadlowski - Lenoir, NC

“None better than Admiral Donovan and his wife Martha... I had the distinct honor of serving as his XO aboard the the USS Belleau Wood (LHA 5). He...Read More »
5 of 95 | Posted by: Donald J Snodgrass, Captain, USN (Ret) - KY

“Fair winds and following seas to a long time friend of over 50 years. Frank and I were not only contemporaries, but family friends. He was a natural...Read More »
6 of 95 | Posted by: Captain Jack Gelke USN(Ret) - CA

“I had the honor of serving under CMR Donovan aboard the USS Meredith. His love and concern for and fairness to his men was felt by all of us, from...Read More »
7 of 95 | Posted by: Donnie Mercer - Valdosta, GA

“I served under the command of Frank Donovan aboard Ricketts for his entire tenure on that ship. I was a Signalman and often had to bring wrinkled,...Read More »
8 of 95 | Posted by: SM3 John J. Snyder - Philadelphia, PA

“Frank and I grew up in Arlington, MA but I never met him until NAPS where he was a Sonarman 3rd Class. Then we both graduated with the Class of 1959...Read More »
9 of 95 | Posted by: Bob Armour - Virginia Beach, VA

“On behalf of all the Jerry Murphy family we send our love to your entire family. We remember the great days we shared as neighbors in Mayport and...Read More »
10 of 95 | Posted by: Susan Murphy - Brookfield, CT

“Hi Mary, this is Julie Cullin a YN2 that worked for your father at MSC. I have met you many times. I married long ago and have been overseas...Read More »
11 of 95 | Posted by: Julie Shepard - Arnold, MD

“We continue to treasure these messages. Thanks to all who have posted here. He'll be interred at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, October 20,...Read More »
12 of 95 | Posted by: Mary Donovan Bonner

“I am passing on my sincere condolences to the Admiral's family. I am absolutely sure you have been enindated with stories where then CAPT Donovan...Read More »
13 of 95 | Posted by: CDR Nate Schneider - MD

“Martha and Family, I just read in "Shipmate" about the passing of your husband and father. I can't tell you how sad I was to read about. I was...Read More »
14 of 95 | Posted by: John Martin - Acton, MA

“Dear Mrs. Donovan and family, Please accept my condolences on Admiral Donovan's passing - I was so blessed to have worked for him briefly during...Read More »
15 of 95 | Posted by: Tom Owens - Albany, NY

“I was deeply saddened to read of Admiral Donovan's passing in SHIPMATE. My condolences to the family and shipmates of Admiral Donovan who was the CO...Read More »
16 of 95 | Posted by: Kenneth McKay - Pittsburgh, PA

“I give my sincere condolences to the families and friends. Francis was greatly loved and will be missed. The best description of Jehovah God is...Read More »
17 of 95 | Posted by: Tabby M. - Houston, TX

“I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family. ”
18 of 95 | Posted by: CDR Kirk R. Benson, USN (Ret) - LA

“Just saw this sad news. Very sorry to all for your loss. I really enjoyed getting to know your Admiral Donovan, first as a midshipman, then through...Read More »
19 of 95 | Posted by: Terry Kraft - Yokosuka Japan

“To the Donovan Family, My condolences to you. Your father was a well-respected Naval Officer. My association w/him was through USNA, where I...Read More »
20 of 95 | Posted by: Lt. Richard Duffett, USN - OH

“I just learned of the Admiral's passing. It figures Death would sneak in during the night; he must have heard the tale floating around about the...Read More »
21 of 95 | Posted by: Charles A. Hardy - Maplewood, MO

“An unforgettable boss, "shipmate," and beloved friend! ”
22 of 95 | Posted by: Dave Chandler - NEW GLOUCESTER, ME

“Admiral Donovan was my Commanding Officer on USS Belleau Wood. He was also one of the finest men I have ever known. His influence on my life has been...Read More »
23 of 95 | Posted by: Mario J Diaz - Houston, TX

“I just recently met Admiral Donovan and his amazing family. In the short time I knew him, I got to know him quite well. Although I wish we would...Read More »
24 of 95 | Posted by: Neal Petersen - Rockville, MD

“Frank Donovan was a leader and inspiration to all who knew him. He gained the respect of many Navy Men and Women, as well as others in his long...Read More »
25 of 95 | Posted by: Robert C. Powers - Portsmouth, VA

“I am the product of a military upbringing, and my father's Naval career shadowed Admiral Donovan's. My siblings and I were aware of Admiral and...Read More »
26 of 95 | Posted by: Gretchen Quast - Annapolis, MD

“I love these wonderful messages about our father and his friendships. Thank you for sharing them here. ”
27 of 95 | Posted by: Mimi - VA

“GOD BLESS.FRANK WAS A GOOD MAN.I HOPE I GET TO SEE HIM AGAIN.JOE B. ”
28 of 95 | Posted by: JOE BRANTUAS - SAN DIEGO, CA

“In 1983, on board USS NASHVILLE, there was one particularly difficult sailor who none of us could reach. He eventually found his way to a meeting...Read More »
29 of 95 | Posted by: Bruce & Rhonda Sonn - VA

“Martha The greatest honor I have had in my life is to have been Frank's roommate our last year at USNA. My prayers for you and your family. Please...Read More »
30 of 95 | Posted by: Richard Pagnillo - Monterey, CA

“It is with great sadness that the news of a great officer and friends has gone back to his maker. I served under him and there was no greater, nicer...Read More »
31 of 95 | Posted by: Mario A. Arnero - Cape Coral, FL

“Martha, my sincere sympathy & condolonces to you and your family. My prayers are with all of you. ”
32 of 95 | Posted by: Lucrezia Harrington - Oakton, VA

“This Sailor knows Grandpa is out to sea with her right now. What better guardian angel could anyone want out at sea? I love you, Grandma. Thank you...Read More »
33 of 95 | Posted by: Brigid Byrne - Coronado, CA

“I served with VADM Donovan at MSC. He asked me to do some messy jobs while there. He always called me "pardner" at those moments. When he called me...Read More »
34 of 95 | Posted by: David Frump - Raeford, NC

“I served Under Mr.Donovan while aboard the USS The Sullivans('61-'62) and visited with him again at the 2007 reunion. He will always live in our...Read More »
35 of 95 | Posted by: R. Carl DePoy RMC USN (ret) - FL

“I had the honor and pleasure to serve under VADM Donovan at the MSC HQ. He was "simply the best". He was a wonderful leader, good listener, trustful...Read More »
36 of 95 | Posted by: Kevin G. Ryan - North Potomac, MD

“When I knew Mr. Donovan he was a relative new lieutenant serving as department head of the deck division. I was an E-5 Yeoman who came aboard on...Read More »
37 of 95 | Posted by: Ken Palmersheim - Hudson, WI

“Martha and family: I think often of the times Frank and I shared both in the Navy and after. While he will be greatly missed he will live forever...Read More »
38 of 95 | Posted by: Don $ Mary K. Stoufer - VA

“My condolences to VADM Donovan's family. I served under VADM Donovan when he commanded the USS Claude V. Ricketts (DDG-5). I have always considered...Read More »
39 of 95 | Posted by: Peter Wright, CAPT USN (Ret) - VA

“My condolences to Martha and the Donovan family. Admiral Donovan was the most caring leader I ever met and an inspiration to all of us. He did the...Read More »
40 of 95 | Posted by: Konrad Hayashi, Captain (Ret), MC, USN - GA

“My sincere sympathy and condolences to you, Martha, and your family. May it comfort you to know that Frank is now free of pain and enjoying his new...Read More »
41 of 95 | Posted by: Angela Dinkle - Falls Church, VA

“Mr. Donovan will be greatly missed around St. Mark parish and Vienna. He was always warm and friendly and ready with an interesting story. It was...Read More »
42 of 95 | Posted by: Kate & Russell Orf - Fairfax, VA

“To the Donovan Family, It is so sad to face the loss of such a great man. Bob and I knew Frank and Martha from St. Mark Church in Vienna. What an...Read More »
43 of 95 | Posted by: Kathleen Becker - Vienna, VA

“Danielle and family - Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. ”
44 of 95 | Posted by: April & Madilyn Smith - VA

“Frank was a devout Catholic gentleman. My prayers are with all of you. Fr. Charlie Bourke ”
45 of 95 | Posted by: Fr. Charles Bourke - Winthrop, MA

“Frank and the example he set is the reason I joined the United States Navy. He inspired my devotion to service and never stopped supporting and...Read More »
46 of 95 | Posted by: LCDR John F. Butler, JAGC, USN - VA

“In loving memory of a great man, we will miss him dearly. I am saddened to hear of Mr. Donovan's passing on Sunday. Mr. Donovan was an important...Read More »
47 of 95 | Posted by: Michael McNally - Vienna, VA

“VADM Frank Donovan was an exceptional leader empathetic to Sailors and their leaders. As a young Commanding Officer of an MSO, his encouragement and...Read More »
48 of 95 | Posted by: Capt Ted Kaye USN (RET) - VA

“It was an honor to serve under Frank at MSC. He was truly a great American. Sincerely, John McKinley, RADM (Ret.). ”
49 of 95 | Posted by: RADM John McKinley - Kingsport, TN

“Our class of USNA '59 could not have been more fortunate to have such a wonderful model of leadership, courage and moral character than Frank. He...Read More »
50 of 95 | Posted by: James B. Rucker, Jr. USNA '59 - OH

“During this time of agonizing grief for the entire family, I pray that God will give you the strength to concentrate on how Frank made this world a...Read More »
51 of 95 | Posted by: Raquel Saenz - McLean, VA

“My sincere condolences to Mrs. Donovan and the entire Donovan family. I feel very fortunate to have known VADM Donovan as a dedicated father, and a...Read More »
52 of 95 | Posted by: Colleen (Carpenter) Woods - WA

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you during this time. I have smiled about so many wonderful "Donovan memories" over the past few days! ...Read More »
53 of 95 | Posted by: Kevin and Anne O'Brien - Suffolk, VA

“Martha, Carol & I extend our sympathy to you and your family. Frank was a special and caring person and I have many memories of him mentoring ship's...Read More »
54 of 95 | Posted by: Bob & Carol Larkin - San Diego, CA

“Our deep and Most Sincere regrets to a Very Dedicated and Delightful Family and to a GREAT Naval Officer.Men like Frank Donovan are Clearly the...Read More »
55 of 95 | Posted by: Vadm Tony and Leanne Less - VA

“Aunt Martha and to all my cousins, we send our condolences and prayers. Uncle Frank touched so many lives all over this country while proudly...Read More »
56 of 95 | Posted by: Ellen and Chuck Gordon - RI

“Martha and family. I am so sorry to learn of the death of Frank. I remember talking with him after Mass and at one of the Little Rock Classes we...Read More »
57 of 95 | Posted by: Mary Margaret McGowan - Oakton, VA

“On Monday I learned of the passing of Vice Admiral Francis Donovan. His oldest, Mary Donovan Bonner, is my best friend from high school. To me her...Read More »
58 of 95 | Posted by: JILL CARR - ANNAPOLIS, MD

“I am so sorry for your loss. I never had the honor of meeting Mr. Donovan, I did however, meet his daughter so he must have been a wonderful person. ”
59 of 95 | Posted by: Evalyn Dunn Harding - Chocowinity, NC

“We extend our deepest condolences, knowing there is little we can say or do to alleviate the loss with Frank's journey to be with his Heavenly Father...Read More »
60 of 95 | Posted by: Paul & Maria Somogyi - VA

“Dear Martha and Family, My heart goes out to you in the loss of your highly esteemed husband, father and grandfather.Frank was the epitome of a Naval...Read More »
61 of 95 | Posted by: Grace Fritzinger - Los Angeles, CA

“Admiral Donovan made a lasting impact on so many lives. He truly was the most genuine and BEST BOSS EVER! I had the distinct pleasure of serving as...Read More »
62 of 95 | Posted by: Kristine & John Bealmear - VA

“Our prayers and condolences to you Martha and all of your family on the passing of a dear friend, the sage leader of our class and an admired comrade...Read More »
63 of 95 | Posted by: Les & Rosemary Sellers - Equality, AL

“Our thoughts, prayers and sincere condolences go out to Martha and the entire Donovan family. VADM Frank Donovan tops my list as the most...Read More »
64 of 95 | Posted by: Capt. Bob & Mrs. Maureen Ianucci, USN (Ret.) - VA

“I remember the times Jean and I visited the Naval Academy and how gracious Francis and Martha were to us during the visit. I remember Francis...Read More »
65 of 95 | Posted by: Tony Horton - Westerly, RI

“Although I only briefly met Admiral Donovan, I had the honor of serving with his son, Frank, during the late 90's with the 15th MEU. My parents...Read More »
66 of 95 | Posted by: Joe O'Hara - Los Angeles, CA

“I was a young Major when I met Captain Donovan at the Naval Academy. He was unfailingly gracious to Barbara and kind to me. The Donovan family were...Read More »
67 of 95 | Posted by: mike and Barbara Williams - MD

“Martha and Frank Donovan Family, Jennifer and I extend our heartfelt condolences to you all. I knew Frank from the very beginning days in 1955 at...Read More »
68 of 95 | Posted by: Jack London - McLean, VA

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. ~From a headstone in Ireland My thoughts and prayers are with you...Read More »
69 of 95 | Posted by: Janet Chaves - Virginia Beach, VA

“Lived next to Frank for four years in the 13th Company at the Naval Academy and to the day of his passing he never changed. The consummate gentleman,...Read More »
70 of 95 | Posted by: Brig. Gen. & Mrs Donald C Smith USAF Ret. - PA

“My wife, Barbara, and I first met the Donovan's in Newport,R.I. in 1971 when Frank was on the staff of the Naval War College and I was a student. He...Read More »
71 of 95 | Posted by: Rear Admiral Joseph C. Strasser USN Retired - DE

“Remembered fondly as my plebe year company commander for his consistent leadership, example, fairness and unfailing good humor. The very traits...Read More »
72 of 95 | Posted by: Raymond Sisk - Bluffton, SC

“Danielle, I'm so sorry to hear this news. What a nice picture of your dad! Keeping you in prayer. Love, Leah ”
73 of 95 | Posted by: Leah Kondes - Minneapolis, MN

“I will miss a truly wonderful storyteller who would often begin by saying ''stop me if you've heard this" but you learned quickly that there would...Read More »
74 of 95 | Posted by: Byron Coffin - Brookline, MA

“My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Donovan clan on the passing of the Admiral into the arms of the Lord. I am certain He said "well done...Read More »
75 of 95 | Posted by: Candace Donnell - Virginia Beach, VA

“FRANK'S ATTRIBUTES: DEDICATION; FRIENDLINESS; RESPONSIVENESS-TO THE NEEDS OF OTHERS; INTEGRITY, COURAGE AND LOYALTY-HE NEVER WAVERED IN HIS SUPPORT...Read More »
76 of 95 | Posted by: VADM AL HERBERGER - STERLING, VA

“I'm very saddened to hear about the loss of your husband, father & grandfather. As a young mid, his sea stories & leadership lessons enthralled me...Read More »
77 of 95 | Posted by: JC Harding, CAPT USN (Retired) - MD

“A great loss to the Navy and the seafaring community. His knowledge and wise counsel will be missed. Condolences to Mrs. Donovan and family. God...Read More »
78 of 95 | Posted by: James Westenhoff - Reston, VA

“Love to all the Donovans from your extended " north island" family. We share your loss.Our sincere condolences. love all the newmans ”
79 of 95 | Posted by: terry&roger newman - coronado, CA

“Thank you for your service Admiral Donovan. ”
80 of 95 | Posted by: Nancy O'Hara Bizon - Bel Air, MD

“I was pulled into the orbit of VADR Donovan when I became good friends & then roommates with his daughter Danielle. Upon hearing from her of her...Read More »
81 of 95 | Posted by: Lynnette Fitch Brash - VA

“Frank, you had 7th Co. plebes memorize John Paul Jones's description of a Naval Officer. You provided a living example to those who had the honor of...Read More »
82 of 95 | Posted by: Charles Judge II - Bowie, MD

“Martha and family, We hold you in our hearts and prayers. We know that Frank is "singing with all the saints in glory". ”
83 of 95 | Posted by: Jack and Joanne Thorn - VA

“Our country and the Navy and our class are all better places because Frank touched them all. He was a truly fine man and we will miss him. My...Read More »
84 of 95 | Posted by: Tony Marks '59 - Branford, CT

“A consummate professional and a wonderful gentleman. The Navy and the Naval Academy have lost a great friend. My most sincere condolences to the...Read More »
85 of 95 | Posted by: Rusty Yeiser USNA '74 - MD

“So many of us remember that, at some point in our life journey, Frank was there, and that wherever we are now, we are better off because we were with...Read More »
86 of 95 | Posted by: RADM Tim Jenkins, USNR-Retired - FL

“We are so saddened to hear of your loss. Monica and I know what a great man he was. While the Donovan Family lost one of the best husbands and...Read More »
87 of 95 | Posted by: Kevin and Monica Kelly - VA

“My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the entire Donovan family; your loss is our loss too. Frank was a larger than life person, who led, counseled and...Read More »
88 of 95 | Posted by: Walter F. Welham - Annandale, VA

“Frank's devotion to God and Country, and particularly to his USNA Class of '59, is only surpassed by his steadfast devotion to Martha and his...Read More »
89 of 95 | Posted by: Linda And Norm Bednarek - MD

“Dear Donovan Family, We are sending our condolences and deepest sympathies to you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult...Read More »
90 of 95 | Posted by: Hubert Evertz - Williamsburg, VA

“Our deepest sympathy to the Donovan family. ”
91 of 95 | Posted by: Julie Cullin Shepard - Annapolis, MD

“We are keeping you and the entire Donovan family in our thoughts and prayers. Semper Fidelis, Troy & Carol Pugh ”
92 of 95 | Posted by: Troy & Carol Pugh - VA

“Love to all. ”
93 of 95 | Posted by: Grace - Coronado, CA

“Love you Momma and Daddy. ”
94 of 95 | Posted by: Thomas Donovan - VA

“Your sense of humor and help was much appreciated by this plebe. You kept it in perspective. Fair winds and calm seas, Frank. Thank you! ”
95 of 95 | Posted by: CDR R. K. Nerup,USN(Ret) - WA


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Francis R. Donovan Navy Vice Admiral (Retired) Francis Raymond Donovan died in his Vienna, Virginia home on Sunday, May 4, 2014 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He is survived by his wife of 53 years, the former Martha Dwyer Lyons; their children Mary Bonner and her husband Kevin, Julie Fouhy and her husband Byron Coffin, Amy Byrne and her husband William, Francis Donovan and his wife Kimberly, Danielle Dunn and her husband Sidney, Grace Stedje-Larsen and her husband Eric, Thomas Donovan and his wife Michelle, and John Donovan and his wife Jacqueline; and 27 grandchildren. He is also survived by his siblings and their families: William and Dorothy Donovan of Natick, MA; Joseph and Anna Donovan of Arlington, MA; Sarah and David Sutherland of Quincy, MA; Mary and Michael DeSimone of Lexington, MA; and Gerard and Donna Donovan of Billerica, MA. Born in Arlington, Massachusetts on August 31, 1934, he was the son of the late Mary (Leahy) Donovan and Francis F. Donovan. He attended St. Agnes School in Arlington and was a graduate of St. Clement High School in Somerville, MA. To augment his education, he audited math courses at Harvard and MIT before enlisting in the Navy in 1952. He received a fleet appointment to the United States Naval Academy and was president of his class, graduating in 1959. He held a master of marine affairs degree from the University of Rhode Island and a doctor of philosophy (honoris causa) in public administration from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. He also studied at the University of Washington, the Naval War College, and the National War College. In his 40-year naval career he served aboard USS TIMMERMAN (DD 828), USS THE SULLIVANS (DD 537) and USS RICHARD L. PAGE (DEG 5). He commanded five others: USS SALISH (ATA 187), USS CLAUDE V. RICKETTS (DDG 5), USS MEREDITH (DD 890), USS NASHVILLE (LPD 13), and USS BELLEAU WOOD (LHA 3). He also commanded Amphibious Group Three and the Military Sealift Command. During operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, his command was responsible for transporting more than 95% of all personnel and material, at that time the largest sealift conducted in the shortest period of time in U.S. history. Ashore VADM Donovan served on the faculty of the Naval War College as Military Planning Supervisor and at the U.S. Naval Academy as Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen and Director of Professional Development. He was also assigned as Deputy Director of Operations in the National Military Command Center of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Manpower, Personnel and Training)/Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel. Following retirement from the Navy, he worked as a maritime consultant specializing in port and cargo security. He lectured at the Joint Forces Staff College, a component of the National Defense University. He was a past president of Designers & Planners, Inc., of Arlington, VA, a naval architecture and marine engineering consultancy, and also of the Surface Navy Association. He served on the boards of Avondale Industries; Lykes Lines, Ltd.; and on the Northrop Grumman Ship Systems advisory council. As a member of the Center for the Commercial Deployment of Transportation Technologies, he supported research and development of maritime transportation for commercial and military interests. Focusing on sealift for national security purposes, he was also a member of the Society of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineers. Together with his wife, he joined with other active duty and retired naval personnel to encourage attendance for the annual Sea Services celebration at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He was a member of St. Mark Catholic Church in Vienna and also of St. John the Apostle Parish in Virginia Beach, VA. A visitation is scheduled at St. Mark on Thursday, May 8 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. and also from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. A Funeral Liturgy will be held there on Friday, May 9 at 11:30 a.m. The interment will take place at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA on October 20 at 1:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Archdiocese for Military Services, PO Box 4469; Washington DC 20017.

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