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James Jeremiah Donovan

Obituary for James Jeremiah Donovan

August 27, 1927 - March 12, 2021
San Mateo, California | Age 93

Loving husband, father, and grandfather


James Jeremiah Donovan

James passed peacefully on Friday, March 12, 2021, at Peninsula Hospital from pneumonia. He was 93 years old.

He was born in Sacramento, CA on August 27, 1927. He is the son of James Aloysius Donovan and Margaret Josephine (McTaggart) Donovan. He was the loving husband of Margery Ann Tumbleson Donovan. It was love at first sight, happily married for 58 years. He is survived by his three daughters: Deborah Ferrier and her husband Bill, Nancy Bradley and her husband Marty, and Pamela Hollar and her husband Michael. He loved his four grandchildren - Timothy Bradley, Katie Bradley, Christina (Hollar) Gottlob, and Daniel Hollar.

Jim was born in Sacramento, CA but grew up in San Francisco, CA. He lived in San Mateo, CA for 67 years.

He attended St. Paul's Catholic School and St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco. He loved St. Ignatius, but was unable to finish high school due to being drafted to serve in the Army Air Corp during World War II. During his service, he was stationed in Okinawa. He returned after the war and finished High School at Glendale Junior College in Glendale, CA. Always wanting to work in aviation, he graduated from the Northrup Aeronautical Institute with an Aircraft and Engine Mechanics license through the GI Bill.

Jim proudly worked for United Airlines for 42 ½ years as an aircraft inspector working on the wide-body planes. From his dad, he learned the importance of the union and was a proud member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. He wrote a monthly union history column for their newspaper. Jim and Marge shared a love for travel. Using his United Airlines flight passes, they visited all 50 US states - with their Route 66 adventure as their favorite.

He had a vast variety of interests and always kept busy. He loved sailing - owning four boats throughout his lifetime. He gladly taught many people how to sail, creating many fond memories with his family. He and Marge loved water skiing behind their handmade wooden runabout. Jim's love for the water led him to Pinecrest, the lake he sailed and camped at with his family for 50 years. He won many El Toro sailing races with his Amoeba and the family built lifelong memories around Donovan Rock.

Jim was mechanical; he could fix or build anything. He built a telescope by hand from a book he bought at a garage sale, using a glass porthole to hand-grind the mirror. He continually remodeled and enhanced their house, even building the kitchen cabinets from classic maple wood.

Jim was an avid reader, taking after his mother. He loved opera, classical music, and theater. He taped PBS shows on videotapes in the 1990's and 2000's and enthusiastically watched these every day.

Most of all, he was devoted to family. If the kids had an interest, he supported it. He helped Marge with the Girl Scout outings and projects, took Debbie to her dog shows, Nancy to her band concerts, and Pam to her gymnastics meets. Later when the girls went to college, he followed sports at their colleges attending basketball at USF and football at USC. As the grandchildren grew, he followed their interests as well - attending sports, music, and dance events both in San Mateo and Southern CA.

Jim always held his strong Catholic faith close. He was very knowledgeable about the Bible and its history. He passed on his knowledge and love of the Bible through teaching 6th-grade catechism at St. Bartholomew's Catholic Church for many years. He always delighted in the beautiful and unique faceted glass windows of the St. Bart's Church architecture. What a comfort it is, for those of us here, to know that he is again with his beloved Margie.

Jim is irreplaceable to all who loved and knew him. He will be dearly missed.

Jim will be interred at St. John's Cemetery, San Mateo. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Hydrocephalus Association.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a memorial contribution be made to the Hydrocephalus Association
  • Hydrocephalus Association
    Hydrocephalus Association Development Office
    4340 East West Highway, #905
    Bethesda, MD 20814-4447

Arrangements By

Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home - FD-230

977 S. El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94402
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