James F Donohue
June 11, 1934 – October 2, 2019
James (Jim) Fitzgerald Donohue, age 85, formerly of Scituate, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully on October 2, 2019 in the loving company of his daughter Debbie Discher. James was a journalist, novelist, and public relations specialist. He was also a devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend to many.
James is preceded in death by his beloved wife Muriel, who passed away on March 27, 2017 after a 9-year battle against dementia. James is survived by his two daughters, Cathy Brittingham of Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Debbie Discher of Newton, New Hampshire, two grandchildren Daniel and Ben Brittingham of Wake Forest, North Carolina, a sister, Sheila Ross of Westlake, Ohio, and her children Mike Ross of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Jody Ross of Valley City, Ohio. On Muriel’s side of the family, James is survived by brothers-in-law, David Lyford of Greene, New York and Winston Lyford of East Freetown, Massachusetts, sisters-in-law, and numerous nieces and nephews who remember him as a fun-loving uncle with a great sense of humor.
James was born in 1934 in New York City. His father was Harold J. Donohue, a hotel manager. His mother was Josephine Hamel Donohue, a homemaker. During his childhood, James and his family lived in various places, including New York City; Kinston, Jamaica; West Palm Beach, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia. He loved to tell stories about the time he lived near the Everglades when he was a young teenage boy. He developed an interest in nature and bird-watching, and when he wrote a story about a mockingbird, he discovered that he had a passion and talent for writing. He also loved to tell stories about the many fun days that he spent visiting his Aunt Peggy and Grandmother Tessie in New York City as a young man.
James attended the Theological College at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. but ultimately chose not to become a priest. James served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves for 6 years from 1958 to 1964. James received a BA in Philosophy from St. Mary's University in Baltimore, MD. He began working as a newspaper reporter in Gainesville, GA in 1959, and worked for newspapers in North Carolina, for the Boston Globe and for the Associated Press. James covered the Civil Rights Movement as a journalist in North Carolina in the 1960’s, and conducted interviews of Martin Luther King, Junior, Jesse Jackson, Senior, and Senator Ted Kennedy. He was a reporter and managing editor of magazines published by Cahners Publishing Co. in Boston and was a columnist for the Mariner weekly newspapers published in southeastern Massachusetts. While he was working as a public relations specialist for Honeywell's EDP Division in Newton, MA, in the late 1960s, James won a Silver Anvil, the highest award given by the Public Relations Society of America, for work on Honeywell's project to teach computer programming to inmates at Walpole State Prison.
James wrote a novel, Spitballs and Holy Water, that was published by Avon Publishing Co. in 1977, and which won several awards including for best fiction based on historical fact by the West Coast Review of Books. A book written by Allen E. Hye in 2004 titled “The Great God Baseball” looked at nine fictional baseball novels that feature religion and the spiritual qualities of the game of baseball including what Mr. Hye referred to as the lesser known nuggets of James F. Donohue’s Spitballs and Holy Water, and established classics such as W.P. Kinsella’s book Shoeless Joe, which was adapted into the movie Field of Dreams in 1989. Mr. Hye states in his book that Spitballs & Holy Water may be “little known” to most readers, but he would bet that W.P. Kinsella knows it very well.
James fell in love with Muriel Estelle Lyford in Greensboro, North Carolina while she was attaining a BA in Psychology from Greensboro College, and he was working as a journalist for the Greensboro Times. They were happily married for 51 years beginning in 1965, and they lived a great life in Scituate, Massachusetts for 46 years. Their daughters, Cathy and Debbie, were active in the Scituate Public Schools Music Program, and James and Muriel attended innumerable music concerts, recitals, and marching band events over the years. James and Muriel nurtured their daughters’ love of animals, and over the years they had many pets. They also fostered a productive garden and natural habitats in their backyard on Country Way. James and his daughter Debbie’s care allowed Muriel to stay at home for as long as possible after she developed dementia. James and his daughter Debbie became very close in the last 11 years of his life as Debbie helped him with all of his daily needs. Despite a long distance relationship, James maintained a close bond with his grandchildren Daniel and Ben and daughter Cathy, and they visited each other often. He and Muriel provided important support to their grandchildren and daughter Cathy at critical times of their life. James also maintained close relationships with his sister Sheila, nephew Mike, niece Jody and many relatives from Muriel’s side of the family.
James and Muriel were very active in the local community, and they developed strong lifelong friendships with their neighbors and other people they met. They both sang in the church choir at St. Christine’s Parish for many years, they were active longtime participants in the vigil at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church, and James supported Muriel with the logistics of her work as a church organist and Music Director at numerous Catholic churches. James enjoyed working with children, and over the years he taught Sunday School, tutored local children, and was a substitute teacher in the Scituate Public Schools. James and Muriel frequently attended concerts by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and also attended countless local music programs. They loved to take walks in nature, especially Dwyer Farm in Marshfield, Massachusetts. James and Muriel were avid readers, and also loved to watch movies and television together. James and Muriel loved to travel, and they enjoyed many voyages together to locales including Saint John in the Virgin Islands, the Grand Canyon, London, Paris, Switzerland, San Francisco, San Diego, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Quebec, Cape Cod, Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Orlando, West Palm Beach, Atlanta, Asheville, Raleigh, Minneapolis, Sedona, and many more. James traveled to additional places without Muriel on business, including Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Italy, and Ireland.
There will be a Funeral Mass at St. Christine's Parish, 1295 Main Street, Marshfield, Massachusetts, on December 28th at 10:00 am. A reception will immediately follow the funeral mass. All are welcome to the Mass and reception.
In lieu of flowers, tax-deductible memorial donations in James’ name may be made to Scituate Friends of Music, c/o Mr. William Richter, Scituate High School, 606 C.J. Cushing Highway, Scituate, MA 02066. Checks should be made payable to “Scituate Friends of Music.”
St. Christines Church
1295 Main Street