When Village of Oregon board president Jeanne Carpenter first dipped her feet into local government, trustee David Donovan was right there to show her the ropes.
Carpenter told the Observer when she joined the village board in 2014, her seat was next to Donovan’s, who died June 19. Donovan, 63, had been reelected in April for a second term after filling Jeff Boudreau’s vacated seat in November 2019.
Donovan battled amyloidosis and multiple myeloma, a disease of the bone marrow, for three years leading up to his death, according to his obituary. He previously served on the Village Board from 2010 to 2014 before becoming a manager at Xcel Energy in Eau Claire.
“I was definitely stunned by David’s sudden passing as his behavior and meeting contributions were not affected by his condition,” trustee Jerry Bollig wrote in an email to the Observer on Monday, June 29.
Carpenter broke the news of Donovan’s death at the Monday, June 22, village board meeting over Zoom to a seemingly somber audience of trustees. At the mention of his name, faces turned downward and eyes appeared glossy.
“The aspect I respected most about David, and which I have tried to adopt in my tenure on the board, is that he only spoke when he had something meaningful to contribute,” Carpenter reminisced. “That meant the board and the public always listened carefully when he talked and his opinions were highly regarded.”
Carpenter said Donovan offered “many times” to meet with her and fill in any information gaps she had.
“At times, he would be using lingo or discussing a project and I had no idea what we were talking about,” Carpenter recalled in an email. “I’d slip him a note with a question and he’d write back an answer, or quietly fill me in so that I never looked stupid.”
Back when he sought reelection for his 2020 term, Donovan told the Observer he valued making decisions in a timely, but concise, manner. He said he was on the board to ask the tough questions before moving forward with a big project or solving a complex problem.
And he stood firm on that tenet of his philosophy – whenever Carpenter opened up the floor for deliberation after a motion, Donovan always offered points that would promote discussion.
“One could tell he enjoyed a good debate almost as much as he enjoyed kidding a fellow colleague,” Bollig wrote. “His discussion input was always thoughtful adnt to the point but he was quick to tastefully able to point out if he thought your logic was off-base or faulty.”
That contemplative and careful spirit translated into his life outside local government, according to his obituary. Donovan, who received his master’s degree in Forest Management from Iowa State University, put his knowledge to work at Oklahoma State University and the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell.
“He worked to encourage and support greater use of renewable energy and was especially proud of the completion of the Ashland Lakefront Project,” the obituary reads.
The obituary states Donovan had a love for sports, beekeeping that strengthened his bond with his daughter and history that bonded him with his son.
Carpenter said she learned a lot about local government and the village as she sat next to him during her first year on the board.
“I will miss him as a colleague and as a good-hearted human who had the community’s best interests at heart,” she said.
Bollig echoed Carpenter’s words, saying
“I will very much miss working with such a fine man,” Bollig added.