Richard E. Donovan of Downingtown lost his fight with Covid 19 on May 9th at Chester County Hospital. He is survived by his wife, Hilda, daughter, Jan, and predeceased by his daughter, Sue (1980).
Dick was born on February 10, 1927, in Belding, Michigan, the son of Frank M and Avis Donovan. He served as an acting sergeant in the Army before attending college. He graduated from Central Michigan University with a BS in Chemistry/Biology and from Michigan State University with a BS in Electrical Engineering. While at Central, he married his high school sweetheart, Hilda Houseman, who, at the time, was working in his father’s law office.
In 1954, Dick was offered a job as a sales representative for Spaulding Fibre Company. He was transferred from Belding to the Cleveland, Ohio area in 1959. In 1963, he was promoted to branch manager with a move to Pennsylvania. In 1967, Dick and Hilda decided to start their own business, Donovan Associates Inc., as manufacturers’ representatives. At the same time, Dick pursued a certificate of Plastics Technology at the University of Delaware. He became increasingly involved in design work for the railroads including one patented part, the ticket holder, still used on many local regional rail cars.
Dick had a passion for flying and received his pilot’s license when he was 15 years old. He took Hilda up for loops and spins when they were dating. After a long hiatus, he renewed his pilot’s license in 1964. Dick was proud of Hilda for taking a “Pinch Hitter” course enabling her to land the plane in an emergency.
In 1979, Dick and Hilda purchased “Breesey Court” in Downingtown converting the manor house and carriage house to offices and apartments. In 1991, they purchased the balance of the original property. To complete this project, Dick had to give up flying, but traded that passion for a love of restoration. After four years, the “Hat Rack” was ready for lease. He took great pleasure in repairing and maintaining the properties which are both listed on the Pennsylvania Inventory and the National Registry of Historic Places.
Dick and Hilda would have celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary on July 30th—a date Dick never forgot. He will be sadly missed but fondly remembered for his sense of humor, his love of Mantovani and Big Band music, his joy in dancing the jitterbug, and his delight in Hilda’s home-cooked meals.
Funeral services will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) by calling 1.800.872.2672, option 1, and mention the “You Can Fly” program, or to the Brandywine Valley SPCA - https://bvspca.org/donate/ - under “How to Give”.