I am not any different from anyone else who has lost someonethey love dearly. I am 54 and I have never lost a family member, until now. My parents are still living, 88 and 87 years of age. That fact ranks me among the most fortunate. My father-in-law though, passed from this earth this week. I’m sure, those of you who are reading this today, and who have experienced a loss of a loved one can readily recall the memories, the emotions, the answerless questions and the pain you endured. I am no different. My circumstances are not special. Like you I hurt inside. I fight back tears at the thought of all the times and ways he touched my life and the lives of my wife and children. Our faith, a faith my father-in-law helped nurture in our family, now sustains us. I want to tell you about him and how special he was to us and to all those who were fortunate enough to have known him.
Daniel “Dan” Francis Donovan, 78, passed away peacefully on July 27, 2013 while surrounded by his loving family in the Hospice Unit of Regional Hospital in Scranton, PA following a brief but courageous battle with cancer.
He was born on Dec. 3, 1934 to Daniel Donovan and Catherine Dolan Donovan in “West” Avoca. Daniel was a triplet and the youngest of five boys. 55 years ago on June 21, 1958 he married the love of his life and best friend, Ann Petras Donovan. They were blessed with two daughters, Colleen and Erin, and five grandchildren, all now residing in Moosic. Dan was a good, decent, honest, hard working, loyal and faithful family man whose life was devoted to God and the protection and betterment of his family. The countless people, who were fortunate enough to have had their lives touched by him, even in the smallest of ways, were made better by his caring and compassionate nature.
His love of family, his loyalty to his friends, his unwavering discipline, his unrelenting drive, and his ability to intensely focus on accomplishing whatever the task, challenge or opportunity that presented itself to him, were the intrinsic character qualities that guided his remarkable life. He was an accomplished athlete in high school and at the collegiate level. He captained his Avoca High School football, basketball and baseball teams where he graduated in 1952 and then later captained his football, basketball and track teams at East Stroudsburg State College where he graduated with a B.S. in 1956.
His athleticism and competitive nature coupled with his boundless energy and genuine love of education were the ingredients to a long and notable career as a high school coach, teacher, principal, and superintendent. His incredible work ethic is evident in his seemingly endless list of associations and accomplishments. He excelled academically at East Stroudsburg State College, all while playing three sports and working full-time washing dishes to pay his way through school. After graduation from ESSC in 1956, Dan went on to further his education by obtaining his M.S. in Education/History from the University of Scranton in 1963, Secondary School Principal Certification from the University of Scranton, Superintendents Letter of Eligibility from Lehigh University and additional Graduate Studies in Elementary and Secondary Administration from both Wilkes College and Marywood College.
His coaching career began at Darby Jr./Sr. High School in Darby, PA outside of Philadelphia where he was the Head Football, Head Basketball and Head Track Coach from 1956-58. The newly built Cathedral High School in Scranton was his next assignment where he taught and coached from 1958 through 1967. He was Cathedral’s Head Basketball and Baseball Coach during that entire time and his basketball teams won 184 games while losing only 56. From 1964 through 1967, his basketball teams had an incredible record of 98 wins and only 16 losses. His most notable Championships at Cathedral included: PCIAA State Championship Class B in 1967, Eastern PA Catholic Interscholastic Association Championships in 1965 through 1967 (State Runner-ups 1964 and 1966), Scranton Diocesan Class B Championships in 1964 through 1967, Lynett Invitational Tournaments Class A Championships in 1962, 1965 and 1966, and many more. His baseball teams, while at Cathedral, were equally as successful. He compiled a record of 91 wins and only 29 losses while garnering League Championships in 1963, 1965 and 1966. West Scranton High School was his next endeavor where he again taught and coached with great success from 1967 through 1973 winning Lackawanna League Basketball Championships in 1969 and 1970, District II Class A Championship in 1970, Eastern Regional Class A Basketball Champions in 1970 and Lynett Invitational Basketball Tournament Championship in 1970.
Dan’s commitment to this area’s sports community will live on forever as he was the 1975 Founder and President of the Lackawanna Scholastic Girls’ Softball League. He also founded, in 1976, the Lackawanna Scholastic Girls’ Basketball League. He was the Secretary/Treasurer of Lackawanna Scholastic Basketball League for nearly 20 years, an Eastern Football Conference Steering Committee member and a PCIAA Football Official for over 30 years. His lifelong dedication to sports has been honored with several inductions into area Hall of Fame Chapters.
After his stay at West Scranton High School, Dan left the ranks of coaching to pursue his educational career in administration. He became the Mid Valley High School Principal from 1973 until 1982. In 1982, he became Superintendent of Schools for the Old Forge School District, where he resided, until his retirement from the Public School System in 1993. His restlessness would soon cut short his retirement as he accepted a position within the Diocese of Scranton School District as Assistant Superintendent of Schools for Personnel. His tenure there lasted for over 11 years until his retirement in 2005.
His professional affiliations are too numerous to list. Notable past associations were: Chairman of Educational Division of the Lackawanna County United Way; Evaluator, Assistant Chairman and Chairman of Middle States Association of Secondary Schools, Colleges and Universities for more than 25 years; President of the Lackawanna County Principals’ Association, Member of the American Association of School Administrators; Executive Member for the Catholic Youth Center Board of Directors; Lackawanna College Advisory Board of Directors Member.
Dan was proud of his family, proud of his birthplace in West Avoca and proud of his Irish heritage. He was an avid Notre Dame University supporter and without question, their most loyal fan. He was faithfully devoted to St. Ann and annually attended the Novena at St. Ann’s Basilica. He enjoyed playing and watching the game of golf and was one of Glenmaura National Golf Club’s original members.
Dan was preceded in death by his triplet brother, Joseph, who died shortly after birth, his eldest brother and family’s patriarch, John “Jack” Donovan and Jack’s son Thomas, both of Avoca, and a niece Carole Brannan of Morrisville, NC.
Dan is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Ann; two daughters; Colleen Barnic and her husband Greg and Erin Burke and her husband Tom, all of Moosic; 5 grandchildren; Brittany Barnic, Bridget Barnic, Thomas Burke, Daniel Burke and Patrick Burke, his twin brother Paul and his wife Veronica of Las Vegas, NV, a brother Robert “Bob” Donovan and his wife Mary Doris of Pittston and 17 nieces and nephews.
Dan had a beautiful funeral service held in his memory on July 31, 2013 complete with Bag Pipes, Violins, Flutes and a rendition of one of his favorite Irish songs, “Danny Boy,” as we exited the church service at St. Lawrence of O’Toole Church in Old Forge.
I’m glad I got this chance to tell you about this special person we called Dad and Grandpa. You may not have gotten the opportunity to meet him here on earth. I hope my words helped you to understand how much he meant to our family. We need more people like Dan Donovan in this world. Someone who will try to make a difference in other people’s lives the way he did. We will miss him. We all will miss the ones we love. If I don’t get a chance to meet you here on earth, please take good care of yourself and those who you love. I’ll see you at the gates. I’ll be standing next to the guy with the Notre Dame hat on.