Elwin Donahoo

February 17, 1930November 18, 2020

Elwin L "Irish" Donahoo February 17, 1930 - November 18, 2020

On Wednesday, November 18, 2020, Irish Donahoo passed away at his home at the age of 90. He was surrounded by his family.

Born in his home on February 17,1930, in Lincoln, NE to Paul and Bertha (Barnett) Donahoo, Irish was a life-long native of Lincoln, NE, and never moved far from his hometown. He was hardworking, a talented musician, frugal, and happy.

He graduated from Lincoln Northeast High School in 1949 where he was voted the captain of his high school football team.

On August 16,1953, he married Betty Jean (Sharpnack). Betty and Irish raised their children in the first home they bought in 1957 and made this their lifelong home where he spent his final hours.

Prior to a 40+-year career with Western Electric, Irish was employed by Miller & Paine. He was a member of Masonic Lodge #210, a Shriner, past commander of Mount Moriah Commandery 4 and member of Starcraft Chapter #307, OES.

He was preceded in death by Betty Jean, his wife of 49 years, and survived by daughters: Sandy L Spooner(Terry), Patricia A Schmidt (Greg) all of Lincoln, NE. Sons: Jon (Linda) of Georgetown, FL, and Robert (Jolin) of Lincoln, NE.

He began his love for the steel guitar at the age of 8. He was inducted into America's Old Time Music Hall of Fame on October 6, 2012. He was the founding member of The Cornhusker Music Club in Louisville, NE. He was a member of multiple bands including The Country Outlaws, Rawhide, Country Caravan, and Country Pride, giving him the opportunity to play his steel guitar at numerous venues in Eastern Nebraska and Kansas. He had many offers to go play his steel guitar professionally, but he chose to stay in Lincoln to raise a family. He played all his instruments by ear, including the dobro, the mandolin, and guitar. He attended and performed with professional steel guitar musicians at The National Steel Guitar Convention over Labor Day weekends in St. Louis, MO, for several years, traveling with his wife and friends. He met and performed with Patsy Montana and Joe and Roselee Maphis. He had the honor of meeting and performing with Ernest Tubbs, steel guitar player.

He loved traveling to their cabin in Minnesota in their motorhome. Spending many summer weeks in Minnesota with his family. Later in his life, he enjoyed going out to eat and spending time with his family and friends. He always ended his phone calls with "I love you, bye-bye."

He is also survived by his brother and sister-in-law Lloyd and Wilma Donahoo, Millard, NE, sister-in-law Priscilla Sharpnack, Greenwood, NE. Grandchildren Shannon Donahoo, Mikayla Obermier, Nash Schmidt, Sydney, Sawyer, and Sloan Donahoo, two great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, special friends Mary Woodcock friend and neighbor of 78 years and Donna Matthes. He was known as Papa to Nash, Sydney, Sawyer, and Sloan. Sydney described her Papa as loving. Sawyer described her Papa as caring. Sloan described his Papa as dynamic, sociable, and affectionate. Papa called Sloan his little "Irishman." He called Sydney and Sawyer his sweeties.

He was also preceded in death by his parents, infant brother Wesley, sister and brother-in-law Bonnie and Gene Kalkwarf, sister-in-law and brother-in-law Marilyn and John Erickson, brother-in-law and sister-in-law Kenneth "Lee" and Mary Sharpnack, sister-in-law and brother-in-law Laverna and Chuck Donahoo, brother-in-law Joseph Clyde Sharpnack Jr.

"Thank you for all the love you gave me. There could be no one stronger." Hank Williams Sr

We will miss you so much Dad and Papa💙

Visitation will be Monday November 23, at the Lincoln Memorial Funeral Home 6800 S. 14th St from 5-7 pm. Private family services will be held Tuesday November 24, at 10 am and may be viewed on Facebook at Lincoln Memorial Funeral Home and Cemetery, press like and then press videos.

Memorials are suggested to the Shriners Hospital

Condolences online at


  • Scott Donahoo, Pallbearer
  • Gaylen Donahoo, Pallbearer
  • Greg Schmidt, Pallbearer
  • Bob Lamb, Pallbearer
  • Robert Donahoo, Pallbearer
  • Brent Aden, Pallbearer



  • Visitation with Family

    Monday, November 23, 2020


  • Private Family Service But live streamed for the public


Elwin Donahoo

have a memory or condolence to add?

Roxanne Busby

November 27, 2020

Irish was a Wonderful man and Uncle. I have memories of Irish and Betty Jean coming to visit my family, laughing and enjoying the visit.
I, like everyone else, loved his Steel guitar playing. It was WONDERFUL! He was So talented! You could see how much he enjoyed playing music.
When Irish and Betty Jean were at their cabin in Minnesota (just a hop & skip from my Mother (Marilyan & her husband's John) cabin. Irish played in my Step Dad's (John Erickson) band. They played at the Dance Hall's and the Retirement Homes up there. I don't know who enjoyed it more, Irish & John and the band, or the Retirees!
Irish will be missed by many but if you listen, I'm betting you'll hear that Steel Guitar of his playing in the wind. Miss you Uncle.
Roxanne Felton Busby

Ken Sturdy

November 22, 2020

Like many others, I met Irish through music. I played bass and sang in a band with Irish and others and I learned a lot from him. He and his wife were very gracious - offering their basement for our practice sessions. A Nebraska country music legend - he will be missed. My condolences to the Donahoo family.

Lucille Windels

November 22, 2020

I was in the car pool with Irish after moving to Lincoln from Millard. I rode in the car pool with him for about 13 years, before moving back to Omaha. We had many memorable rides to & from work. He loved his diesel car & although it gave him trouble quite a bit, he held onto it, even after we were all stranded at a rest stop one morning. Betty had to rescue us & get us to work. We just laughed about it because we never knew what could happen. I’m so sorry for your loss. I have many good memories of Irish & that old car pool.

Pat Grimes

November 21, 2020

Irish -- you will be missed very much by your friends that followed you in the bands you were in and played at the VFW on West A. I was a friend of your friend, Duane Meier, and enjoyed your Steel Guitar playing. Attended several of your jam sessions you hosted in your basement. You learned that my favorite Steel Guitar song was "The Bells of St. Mary" and played it frequently when we were together and at a birthday surprise you & Duane planned at the VFW club.
Condolences to the family and remembering them in my thoughts and prayers.

Scott donahoo

November 20, 2020

Remembering watching him play the steel at cornhusker country music club he ls my favorite uncle


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