Former Mayor of Minoa and President of New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) Richard J. “Dick” Donovan passed away suddenly on Saturday, Dec. 29. (file photo)
Former mayor of Minoa and president of New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) Richard J. “Dick” Donovan passed away on Saturday, Dec. 29, after developing sepsis following surgery. He was 74 years old.
Donovan served as Minoa’s mayor for 12 years, 26 years on the village board and served throughout the state as president of NYCOM, the first village mayor in Onondaga County to hold that title in the 104-year
history of the organization.
Donovan and his wife Phyllis lived in Minoa for more than 40 years, raising both children and grandchildren in the village. He was involved in community service for 44 years; for 20 of those years, Donovan served on the Minoa-Kirkville Athletic Association (MKAA), now ESM Youth Sports, including three years as president. He also served nine years as a volunteer EMT and firefighter with the Minoa Volunteer Fire Department, served as president of the Onondaga County Mayors Association, and in 2012, was elected by his peers to serve as the president of the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM).
Before his political career, Donovan was a newspaper salesman in the Upstate New York region for over 40 years and was most recently employed by East Syracuse Chevrolet after his retirement.
For 12 years, current Mayor of Minoa Bill Brazill served as Donovan’s deputy mayor on the village board, and said Donovan helped him “understand what it takes to be a leader, to become a better listener and to always return calls promptly from our residents.”
“He was my mentor, friend and family; he loved our village,” said Brazill.
When Donovan was elected president of NYCOM, Brazill said “he brought that same passion and love for all the residents of the county and the state.”
“It was always about everyone else not about him,” he said. “He understood the importance of having a united voice to lobby for what was important to the village, county and state.”
Brazill said sitting on his desk is a plaque with a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that defines Mayor Donovan: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”
“Our village will miss one of the great pillars of our community,” said Brazill. “I loved the man and I will continue to be the best I can be and never forgot our Mayor Richard Donovan.”
For East Syracuse Mayor Robert Tackman, Donovan was one of his biggest supporters after he was first elected mayor, and was always one phone call away.
“Mayor Donovan was a great friend and will be missed dearly,” said Tackman. “When I was first elected, he was a great mentor to me as a first-time mayor and elected official. He wasn’t assigned or asked to mentor me, he just made sure I knew he was there as our neighboring village if there was anything I needed.”
Tackman recalled the time a major storm hit the village, just two months after he took office, and had to declare a State of Emergency for the village.
“Once news broke of the damage we sustained, Mayor Donovan called me up right away and without being asked, immediately said he and his staff were on-call for anything they could do to help our village out,” said Tackman. “I will truly miss his big heart and his friendship very much.”
Donovan is survived by his wife of 53 years, Phyllis; his children John (Beth) Donovan and Beth (Kevin) Merriman; sister-in-law Carol Foran; four grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 5 at R. H. Schepp & Son Minoa Chapel Schepp Family Funeral Homes in Minoa. A celebration of his life will follow at the Village Hall on 240 N. Main St. in Minoa.
Contributions may be made to the Richard J. Donovan Scholarship Fund; c/o East Syracuse-Minoa Central School District, 407 Fremont Rd. East Syracuse, NY 13057 or Clear Path for Veterans, 1223 Salt Springs Rd., Chittenango, NY 13037.
Reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican.