‘Man of the people’ John Donegan remembered

Aug 8, 2018 by

Published in the August 8, 2018 edition

By DAN TOMASELLO

LYNNFIELD — The family of late Selectman John “Jack” Donegan came together to unveil a brand new memorial bench and planter at the Lynnfield Housing Authority complex on July 29.

Donegan, who served as a selectman from 1974-1991, passed away in October 2011. Planning Board member John Gioioso, who is Donegan’s son-in-law, said the family began discussing the possibility of creating a memorial in the late selectman’s memory during a family vacation last summer.

“It’s always good to see a plan come together,” said Gioioso. “Now that I am on the Planning Board and see a lot of town officials, you really start to appreciate what Jack did for the town of Lynnfield. I know the family (is) proud of his many years of service.”

In addition to serving as a selectman for 18 years, Gioioso noted Donegan served on the Housing Authority.

THE DONEGAN FAMILY unveiled a new memorial bench and planter in honor of late Selectman John Donegan at the Housing Authority complex on July 29. Front row, from left, Nils Martin, Hannah Donegan, Cate Donegan, Genna Gioioso, Annette Donegan, Sarah Donegan and Claire Donegan. Back row, from left, Billy Callahan, Denise Donegan, Stephen Donegan, Colleen Gioioso, David Lipman, Jay Donegan, Lisa Donegan, John Gioioso, Jim Donegan, Kacie Donegan, Max King and Daren Flitcroft. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

“The seniors in town were always important to Jack,” said Gioioso. “He was the chairperson of the Housing Authority for a number of years. As my mother-in-law was looking around town for an appropriate place to memorialize Jack, we feel the bench will serve as a centerpiece for the Housing Authority. I think he would be extremely happy that we have a bench and a planter that will be here forever.”

While serving in town government, Gioioso said Donegan “always thought of others first.”

“He was always objective in town government and never had a hidden agenda,” said Gioioso. “He was a man of the people.”

Gioioso also noted Donegan served on the Recreation Commission and was president of Lynnfield Junior Sports.

“Jack was always involved with the sports programs in town,” said Gioioso. “He was an athlete when he was younger.”

Gioioso said Donegan served as chairman of the Lynnfield Democratic Town Committee as well.

“Jack was very passionate about that,” said Gioioso.

A PROUD ANNETTE DONEGAN admires the new bench and planter installed in late Selectman John Donegan’s honor during a ceremony held at the Lynnfield Housing Authority complex on July 29. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

While Gioioso joked his father-in-law would have preferred that the family erected “a statue” in his honor, he is positive Donegan is “looking down at us with pride.”

“He is missed,” said Gioioso.

Jay Donegan thanked Gioioso for working to get the bench and planter installed at the Housing Authority. He said his father would be incredibly proud.

“It’s a great way to remember Dad,” said Jay. “There was nothing more important to Dad than his family. He was a great son who loved his parents. He was a great brother who loved his siblings. He was a great husband who loved our mother, who we love. He was a positive example for our family. I try to embody the principles and values he had. We all do.”

Jay said the bench installed in his father’s honor is just like his Dad.

“It’s a very attractive bench,” said Jay. “It’s sturdy and solid, and it’s functional. It comes back to having a solid foundation, and I think he gave us that. We will always have that.”

Jay also said his father had tremendous leadership skills.

“Dad was an unbelievable leader,” said Jay. “People loved him and gravitated toward him. He could come into a room and control it, not in a flashy way but more of a substantive way. That is how he felt about people. He loved helping people. He was selfless and was a leader for his family.”

Jay noted Donegan worked his way up from a humble beginning on the Boston fish pier to being elected president of the Seafood Workers Union. Donegan also served on the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission. He was president of National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) Local #291, was national vice president of NAGE-SEIU and was vice president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

“Dad was a labor leader to his core,” said Jay. “He did so much for people we did not know. He always wanted to help someone who was less fortunate.”

In closing, Jay said the memorial bench and planter will serve as a way “the town could remember” the late selectman.

“This is one way my Dad can live on,” said Jay.

Housing Authority Chairman Joe Markey thanked the Donegan family for donating the memorial bench and planter.

“Jack was the embodiment of the town he loved and led for more than two decades,” said Markey in an email. “As chairman of the Board of Selectmen and as a Housing Commissioner, Jack helped make his hometown the vibrant, welcoming, world-class place it is today. His legacy will now live on at the Housing Authority.”

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