Harry Donovan leaves a legacy of charity, honor and a lifetime of community service
— Local war hero, philanthropist and business owner Harry Donovan passed away at age 90 on Thursday, Feb. 8. He will be remembered by many in the community as a selfless man who was focused on helping others.
After freshly graduating from Kenmore High School, Donovan began his life of public service at age 17 when he joined the Navy during World War II. He was stationed in the South Pacific, where he survived several enemy encounters and earned many military honors, including two Purple Hearts. Today, his war efforts are recognized at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, where Donovan can be found marching alongside General Douglas MacArthur as a featured image in the “America Returns” exhibit.
Upon returning from the war, Donovan married his first wife, Mabel, and became a father to three children. He earned a business degree from the University of Akron, became a certified public accountant, and opened his own accounting firm. Donovan was successful as a CPA and even briefly worked as an economic advisor to President Richard Nixon. After selling his accounting business, Donovan moved to southern Florida and enjoyed prosperity in real estate on Marco Island. Eventually, he became homesick and moved back to Ohio, where he established another CPA firm, Donovan Klimczak & Company, and worked as a consultant.
Donovan and Mabel were married for 56 years when she passed away after living with Alzheimer’s disease for many years. He later married Fran Timlin, a retired Akron Public Schools teacher who shared his passion for philanthropy.
In keeping with his lifelong mission of service, Donovan became an active volunteer and donor to several charity organizations in the Akron area, focusing most of his efforts on veteran affairs. He was instrumental in propelling several local nonprofit organizations, including the Veterans Service Commission of Summit County, Greater Cleveland Fisher House, Wounded Warrior Project, Honor Flight CAK, OPEN M and VFW Post 349. Donovan also developed the Harry Donovan Jr. Valor Home of Summit County, a transitional housing program for homeless male veterans. In 2012, the VSC awarded Donovan for his vigorous efforts in reshaping veteran life in Summit County and granted him the Veteran of the Year recognition.
“So many people don’t understand: When you have been in a war and had buddies killed around you, and you’ve been exposed to someone shooting at you, you are just so glad you got home,” Donovan had said. “It can be difficult to get your life back together.”
He and Fran were happily married for more than a decade. Through Akron Community Foundation, the couple established two donor-advised funds to facilitate their charitable giving. In 2012, they started the Donovan Veterans Fund to educate, rehabilitate and train veterans so they can enjoy successful lives and careers like Harry’s. Since then, their fund has awarded more than $500,000 in grants to organizations like Wags 4 Warriors, the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, and Project Summit. The following year, the Donovans founded the Donovan Family Fund to support other causes dear to them, including OPEN M and St. Hilary Parish.
“God has been good to me, but I’ve always shared,” Donovan said.
Service was Harry Donovan’s motto, and he never forgot his fellow veterans and patriots. He dedicated his life to these brave men and women, and his legacy will live on through the charitable organizations he founded and worked with during his life. Through these causes, Donovan will continue to serve well past his days.