Leo Donovan

Obituary of Leo Donovan

Leo P. Donovan, 93, of 22 Bateman Avenue, died peacefully at Forest Farm Health Care Center on Friday, August 31, 2007. He was the husband of the late Paula (Orth) Donovan. Born in Newport, RI, on October 23, 1913 and was a lifelong resident of Newport's Fifth Ward, he was the son of the late John F. and Mary (Donovan) Donovan. Leo was a graduate of De La Salle Academy, class of 1932. In high school he participated in basketball and tennis; in 1930 was named to the all-state basketball team and in 1931 was elected basketball team captain. He spent 70 years involved in Newport County athletics as both a player and coach. In his first coaching experience, he led the St. Augustin grade school basketball team to a city and state parochial championship. In the 1930's, he played semi-pro basketball for St. Augustin's and Narragansett Clothing teams which played against the top semi and pro teams of that era. In 1938 he and his teammates of Newport Oil won the Rhode Island softball title and then traveled to Chicago to play in the World Championship Series. Leo coached football, basketball, baseball and tennis at Rogers High School, the Portsmouth Priory and St. George's School; his teams won the state basketball championship in 1946 and tennis championship in 1947 while at Rogers. Staying true to his belief of coaching, he was one of the first coaches, if not the first, to have a female player on one of his tennis squads. He often said, with a smile, that other teams were reluctant to play for fear of losing to a girl. Leo was elected a 4th ward alderman in 1940 and resigned in 1941 to become a Newport policeman. He retired as a lieutenant in 1960. He worked mostly the night shift due to his dedication to coaching. During this time he worked at the Newport Country Club as the caddie master and club manager. While manager he oversaw President Eisenhower's visits to the golf course. He also worked for O'Neill -Hayes funeral home, the Recreation Department, the Fire Department as a call fireman and for over 30 years he served as superintendent for Beverly Bogert's estate "Anglesea". The class of 1966 at St. George's School dedicated their yearbook to Leo, stating, "He was a great person and a great athlete his wonderful common sense and his ability to be fair and honest, and to avoid pretense" were his attributes the students admired most. In 1996, he was inducted into the St. George's Hall of Fame as a coach and friend. In 2002, he was inducted into the 1st class of the Newport Athletic Hall of Fame, in recognition of his athletic ability and contribution to sports on Aquidneck Island. Leo was a signature member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #8; he was a member of the Newport County Preservation Society, Redwood Library, Knights of Columbus, Ducks Unlimited and served on the Board of Directors of the YMCA. Leo is survived by his children, Paula C. Shea, the wife of late Martin Shea of Newport, RI and Winter Haven, FL, Leo P. Donovan Jr., Ph.D. of Stamford, CT, Gerard E. Donovan, and his wife Nancy, of Newport, RI; and grandchildren Christopher Shea, and his wife Amy, of Lakeland, FL, Mary Beth Shea and Patrick Shea, of Newport, RI, Rian Shea and his wife Christen, of Lakeland, FL, Regan (Donovan) Wagner, and her husband Jason, of Bel Air, MD, Corey Donovan, of Newport, RI, Jill Donovan, of San Diego, CA; great-grandchildren Daniel, Brittany, Tyler, Evan, Madelyn, Brady, Zachary and Alec and niece Joan (Vaughan) Seander of Jamestown, RI. He was the brother of the late Marguerite Harrington, Miriam Vaughan, Gertrude Collins, Reverend John F. Donovan, M.M., and Edward J. Donovan. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, September 5, 2007, at 10 a.m. in St. Augustin Church, Carroll Avenue, Newport. Burial St. Columba Cemetery, Brown's Ln, Middletown, RI. Visiting hours are respectfully omitted. In lieu of flowers, donations in Leo's memory may be made to the Newport Police Relief Association, c/o Newport Police Department, 120 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840 or to a charity of your choice.
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