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Joseph Francis Xavier Donovan, Jr.

February 21, 1950 ~ May 14, 2018 (age 68)
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Joseph Francis Xavier Donovan, Jr. passed away peacefully on May 14, 2018, in Cambridge, MA. He was surrounded by his loving wife of 41 years, Mary Kane “Mikki” Donovan and their two children, Megan Donovan-Chien and Joseph F.X. “Jay” Donovan III. Joe worked in the development office at Harvard University for 40 years and had recently retired. He loved Harvard, a second home to him since his years there as an undergraduate. He was known for his tenacious work ethic, dedication to his friends and family, and love for Harvard athletics.


After graduating from Harvard College in 1972 and receiving an MBA from Northeastern University in 1974, Joe remained at Northeastern as assistant director of the MBA program until 1976, when he moved to Providence, RI, to serve as director of development at Moses Brown School. In June 1977 he returned to Harvard as an associate director of the Harvard College Fund. He was a key member of that team for 16 years before moving to major gifts in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) in 1992. For many years he was the mainstay of FAS’s fundraising efforts in Boston and a key partner to then vice president of alumni affairs and development, Fred Glimp. In 2008, Joe joined the newly formed University Development Office principal gifts team, where he became a driving force in many important fundraising areas, including House Renewal, financial aid, professorships, and athletics. With his remarkable drive, attention to detail, judgment, and strategic skill, Joe was a role model and mentor to many in the next generation of fundraisers.


The son of Joseph F.X. Donovan, Sr. and Mary McTiernan Donovan, Joe was born in Beverly MA, and grew up on the North Shore. He attended the Brookwood School in Manchester, MA, as a member of the first graduating class. He then went on to Lawrence Academy in Groton, MA, where he was a scholar-athlete and a recipient of the Harvard Book Prize. He was a competitive tennis player, ranked within New England. He loved to travel with his family and hosted several Harvard Alumni Association trips to Europe and Africa. He was a true believer in the value of education and made it his priority in life to make certain his children had the best education possible.


Joe volunteered as a board member or led campaign initiatives for many area institutions. He was a former vice president of the Harvard Club of Boston and an emeritus board member of the Brookwood School.


Joe went above and beyond for his family. He adored his children and his granddaughter, Griffen “Griffer” Chien. He was the first call for many—family, friends, and colleagues alike—and the one person you could always count on.


He is survived by his wife Mikki Donovan, children Jay Donovan and Megan Donovan-Chien, son-in-law Dr. Kenneth Chien, and granddaughter, Griffen Chien. A memorial service will be held Monday, May 21 at 2 pm at Memorial Church in Harvard Yard, followed by a reception at the Harvard Faculty Club, 20 Quincy Street, Cambridge. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Joey Fund, 55 Cambridge Parkway, Suite 200, Cambridge, MA 02142 or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105

Donations may be made to:

The Joey Fund
55 Cambridge Parkway, Suite 200, Cambridge MA 02142

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105
Tel: 1-800-805-5856

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