2015-03-05 / Obituaries

William (Bill) A. Donahue, Sr.

William Arthur Donahue, Sr. passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015 at the age of 86 in Modesto.

Bill was born on Oct. 23, 1928 in Torrington, Conn. to the late William M. and Evelyn M. (Schroeder) Donahue. He lived in Torrington and grew up with his three brothers and two sisters, graduating from Torrington High School Class of 1946.

After high school, Bill enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of 17 with permission from his parents. After basic training Bill served as an Electronics Technician aboard the USS Rochester CA-124, a heavy cruiser, during the Korean Conflict. The Rochester was the flagship leading the invasion of Inchon, a strategic battle during the war. Bill received his honorable discharge in 1952 after five years of service at the rank of Electronics Technician Second Class.

Bill attended college at the University of Connecticut and San Jose State College, working towards a degree in engineering, a degree he never realized because of family and career obligations. He instilled the importance of an education in his sons and grandchildren, but most importantly, a work ethic to always strive for excellence.

Bill was united in marriage to Vivian Beattie on April 30, 1955 in Torrington, Conn. Following their marriage, the couple drove across the United States to Southern California to start their life together. They resided in the communities of West Hollywood, Cupertino and Mariposa during their marriage and Bill moved to Modesto in 2005 after Vivian passed away. Mariposa was the location of the family cabin which had a tremendous influence in the lives of Bill Jr., Mark, Jim and Robert growing up, as well as being the retirement home of Bill Sr. and Vivian for many years.

Bill was employed by Lockheed Missiles and Space Company for 32 years until his retirement in 1987. He started his career as an electrical technician in research in Van Nuys, then transferred to Sunnyvale, where he rose through the engineering ranks to design specialist working on many top secret projects throughout the Cold War Era. His contributions to the aerospace industry and national defense were numerous, but remain for the most part unknown to all but a few.

Among his special interests, Bill enjoyed fishing, hunting, backpacking and woodworking, activities he participated in with his sons and other family members for many years. He also enjoyed travelling and would accompany his sons and their families on vacation trips in the United States as well as abroad, creating many lasting memories.

Bill was a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, serving at Post 6042 in Mariposa, where he was a member of the honor guard. He was also a member of the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office SCOPE program, assisting the Sheriff’s Office in several capacities during his retirement years. Community service and military service were always important to Bill.

He was preceded in passing by his wife, Vivian Donahue; his son, James R. Donahue; his parents, Bill and Evelyn Donahue; his siblings, Shirley Poplawski, Robert Donahue, Richard Donahue and Kathleen Brooks.

Bill is survived by his children Bill Jr. (Leanne) Donahue of Modesto, Mark (Laura) Donahue of Mariposa and Robert Donahue of San Jose, as well as his brother, Edward (James) Donahue of Modesto.

Also surviving are his six grandchildren; Erin, Michael, Robert, Karen, Carolyn and Sierra and four great-grandchildren; Luca, Nico, Thomas and Ellie, all of whom brought a smile to his face and warmth to his heart.

A graveside service with full military honors was be held on Monday, March 2 at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Santa Nella.

In his memory, donations to the Mariposa VFW Post #6042, P.O. Box 163, Mariposa, CA 95338 would be a fitting tribute.

Return to top

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
Click here for digital edition
2015-03-05 digital edition