William J. Donovan

William J. Donovan

June 04, 1928 - September 08, 2014

William J. Donovan

June 04, 1928 - September 08, 2014


Bill Donovan, a devoted family man who exhibited the virtues of a committed, life-long Catholic, died Monday of natural causes at his residence in Newport Beach, CA.

Although he would be reluctant to acknowledge it, Bill spent most of his life in service of others. Among the roles he dutifully carried out during his 86 years included father to seven children, ‘Papa’ to 20 grandchildren, dedicated husband to his wife of 59 years, basketball coach and Director of Athletics of Loyola Marymount University, and generous contributor to numerous charitable causes.

William Joseph Donovan was born on June 4, 1928 in Los Angeles, CA to Robert Emmett and Alice Bennett Donovan from Nebraska. He attended Loyola High School (’46) and Loyola University (’50) where he excelled in both basketball and baseball. Following a period serving his country in the US Air Force, Bill became head basketball coach of Loyola University at just 24, which at that time made him the youngest Division 1 coach ever. In 8 years coaching, he became the winningest coach in the university’s history, a record that still stands. He later served as Director of Athletics for the University.

In 1955, he married Elana Haidinger Donovan and they went on to have 7 children and 20 grandchildren. For all of his life, Bill’s number one priority was his family. His favorite pastimes included coaching his six boys in sports, beach time at El Morro with his children and grandchildren, and attending Mass with his wife Elana on Balboa Island.

Throughout California, Bill is best known for his success in golf. Following a career as a stock broker and later a builder, he founded Donovan Golf Management where he owned and/or managed a number of courses along with partners including Western Hills Golf Course. Initially starting with Willowick (where he won the Santa Ana City Championship at least twice while in his early twenty’s), a municipal course in Santa Ana which his descendants still manage to this day, Donovan built Southern California’s largest family-owned and operated golf course management business. Today, they manage numerous golf courses throughout California. As an amateur, Bill was Club Champion eight different times at several different clubs including Irvine Coast (now Newport Beach Country Club), The Reserve and The Valley Club where he last won at 74 years of age.

Bill and Elana were involved in many charitable endeavors. They contributed to the founding of Casa Teresa with the Sullivan Family and were actively involved throughout their entire lives.

Bill is survived by his wife Elana, and his sons and their wives Tom and Joanne Donovan and their three children, Matthew and Gabriella and their three children, Mike and Doris and their four children, John and Rebecca and their child, Bill and Lynda and their five children and Dan and Julie and their child and his daughter and her husband Alana and Jerry McGee and their three children.

The funeral mass will be held at Our Lady Queen of Angels on Monday, September 15 at 10:00 a.m.

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