John Donahue

John "Jack" William Donahue

August 22, 1925 - December 14, 2019
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On December 14, 2019, we lost this sweet man to his forever home. Although our hearts break to see you go… you were a hero to our families as well as so many others… we know that the Glory that has been revealed to you is what you deserve after a full, amazing life.
John “Jack” William Donahue, 94, passed away with his loving family around him, his loving wife of 74 years holding his hand.
Jack was born August 22, 1925, in the Winner area/Tripp County, to Charles and Mildred (McQuistan) Donahue. He had one sister, Patricia Burns. He grew up in Yankton, SD. He was a football, basketball, and track athlete in high school, excelling in track. During his Senior year in high school, June of 1943, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and became a navigator on a Boeing B-29 during WWII. He also ran on the Air Force track team. After being discharged from the Air Corps, he returned to Yankton and attended Yankton College. During this time, he met the love of his life, Arlene Amy, and they were united in marriage in Wessington Springs on July 8, 1945.
After getting his Bachelor’s Degree in Science from Yankton College, he taught and coached football, track, and basketball in Pickstown, SD. They then moved to Onida, SD, where he was a teacher and coach before he received his Master’s degree through USD and became Superintendent at Onida. He was in the Onida area for 13 years and led the track team to 2 State Championships. He then moved his family to Murdo, where he was Superintendent for 18 years. Jack enjoyed his time at each of these communities, making life-long relationships. He could make friends with the young and old, and was known for his quick wit, humor, and shenanigans. He had many students, friends, and co-workers who he always remembered fondly.
After retiring, he resided in Silver City, SD, with his wife, Arlene. At this time, he was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame for both Yankton and Onida High Schools in honor of his athletic and coaching abilities. Jack loved hunting, fishing, golfing, gardening, and spending time in the Black Hills with his family.
He is survived by his wife, Arlene; son, Bill (Victoria) Donahue; daughter, Patricia (John) Brunskill; daughter, Julie (late Steve) Wagner; 7 grandchildren; many great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Mildred Donahue; sister and brother-in-law, Patricia and Rod Burns; sister and brother-in-law, Bonnie and Jack Robinson; son-in-law, Steve Wagner; and granddaughter, Bonnie Brunskill.
Memorial services will be held in Sturgis, SD, in August 2020.
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Service Details

  • Memorial Service

    August 21, 2020 | 11:30am
    August 21, 2020 11:30am
    First Presbyterian Church
    1319 Junction Ave
    Sturgis, SD 57785
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Reverend Paul Henschen
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  • Interment

    August 21, 2020 | 10:30am
    August 21, 2020 10:30am
    Black Hills National Cemetery
    20901 Pleasant Valley Drive
    Sturgis, SD 57785
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Carol kortan

Posted at 09:52am
Such memories-saw Jack’s obituary in the online paper and I’m back in Onida in high school. Sending sympathy and thoughts of all the good years! Carol (Dunlap) Kortan, Onida class of 1962 and Yankton College class of 1965

Robert Keener

Posted at 08:33am
I was about nine years old when Jack, known to all of us at Pickstown as Coach, pulled me from the Missouri River and pumped me back to life. He will always be one of my heroes. Bob Keener, Class of '61.

Crystal Walton

Posted at 03:50pm
Donahue family - My name is Crystal Carlson Walton. My father was Harry "Junior" Carlson from Winner, who I believe was a cousin of Mildred, but much closer in age to Jack. My dad often talked about your father. My husband and I live close to Silver City and my dad came to visit and he and my husband went up to Silver City to visit your father. My dad enjoyed that visit so much. I am imagining they are chatting again in Heaven! My sympathies to you all, it is a hard thing to lose a father. Memories of my very special father sustain me as I am sure yours will also. God Bless.

Guy Rhoades

Posted at 02:56pm
Coach Donahue was my favorite at Pickstown high school ... participated in all three sports under him. He got me interested in track and taught me to hurdle ... won both events at the 1955 state track meet and placed in the high jump and broad jump resulting in a second place for our school ... and leading to a SDSC track scholarship for me. I will be forever grateful to him for all he did for me in my formative years! A wonderful man with a terrific perspective on life. I will get a message out to myr Pickstown mailing list.
Guy Rhoades [Pickstown Class of 1955]
Guy Rhoades

Rob W. Edwards

Posted at 01:28pm
Jack, He influenced me to get into construction, I started my career in Building construction in June of 1973, and am still doing it even today Dec 19, 2019. I don't know how to quit.
On a lighter side, My dad ask me if I wanted to go fishing him and Jack, ok so I came out with them. Set up on the South side of the North Dam, they told me to get all the lines set up and I looked around the bend and couldn't find them anywhere, Reeds were pretty tall, so I went back to vehicle and their they were, laying next to a tree facing the sun, and sound to sleep, I just turned around and mined the lines, just hoped the Game warden did show up, because these guys are more then 50ft from their poles. No I didn't catch a thing!

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