Joseph E. Donavan


Joseph E. Donavan, born April 24, 1932, in Chicago, Ill., died May 20 in Charleston, S.C.

Donavan had recently moved to Salida, Colo., from Pagosa Springs, Colo., and was visiting family when he died.

A retired veterinarian who built one of the largest practices in Wisconsin and also practiced on the island of Grand Cayman, Donavan was committed to public service his entire life. An Eagle Scout, he served in the United States Army from 1956-1961. He was elected and served as a county supervisor for Dane County, Wis., and was instrumental in establishing one of the most highly regarded park systems in the country. As a Jaycee, he spearheaded the construction of a children’s zoo in Madison and was an avid supporter of protecting wildlife. He was an active volunteer at the Cayman Turtle Farm, established in 1968, where he contributed his efforts to study and preserve the green sea turtle. He volunteered as a trail veterinarian for the Iditarod dog race in Alaska. He served as president of the Rotary Club in Jackson, Wyo., and was active in both the Rotary Club and Humane Society work everywhere that he lived. He was recognized for his volunteerism in 2002 when he was selected to carry the Olympic Torch on its journey to Salt Lake City.

Family came first in everything that Donavan did, and his children and grandchildren were treated to endless stories (both fiction and nonfiction with the line occasionally blurred) and an amazing repertoire of jokes. He and his wife worked together to create a wonderful family life that treated their five children to adventures that were uncommon in the middle of the 20th century.

An avid skier and scuba diver, he had just recently completed writing his first novel. It is believed that he ticked every box on his bucket list and then some, including rafting down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon several times at his wife’s request.

Donavan is survived by his college sweetheart and wife of almost 64 years, Janet Hugus Donavan; his sister, Margaret; his children, Leslie (John Seymour), Michael, Christine (Bruce Councell), Jennifer (Tom Kloes) and Bill (Laura); eight grandchildren; and three great-grandsons.

Services are private.