Remembering Michael Donovan: An Inspiration to Others
15 May 2018
by Pete Wlodkowski of AmateurGolf.com
Michael Donovan teeing off at Monterey Peninsula CC
OAKLAND, California (May 15, 2018) -- Today Michael Donovan was laid to rest at St. Mary's Cemetery in Oakland, having lost a 23 year battle with throat and tongue cancer on April 30.
Throughout the years I knew Michael, via his entry in AmateurGolf.com events and our occasional pairing at his beloved Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Michael could only speak very lightly due to his tracheotomy. He could not take solid foods, yet he summoned the energy to walk the course, even competing in golf tournaments up until two years ago.
I only wish I got to know Michael better, and that I didn't learn about his life -- and how much he did for others -- by attending his service and meeting his family.
But even before I learned more about him, I took a great deal away from watching him conduct himself on the course in the face of his illness. Never did I hear him complain, or see him in a cart. His beautiful swing produced many great shots, and his quiet smile was all I needed to know that he still found a great deal of satisfaction from walking the links with friends.
Often, we shared a joke that I knew would have produced a big laugh from him when he was healthy. No matter. All I had to do was look at the twinkle in his eyes to know that we shared the same sense of humor. I always tried to listen to his quips - no matter how quiet his voice was.
Mike played varsity golf for Santa Clara University, and competed throughout his life. If you played with him, I'm sure you share the same memories that I do. Two highly regarded Northern California golfers who knew Mike well shared some of their thoughts we me.
“During the late 80’s and early 90’s Mike and I were the two best players at Claremont CC,” wrote Greenway Golf CEO George Kelley. “We tended to meet each other yearly in the club championship. I always looked forward to playing Mike because he was the consummate gentleman while being a fierce competitor at the same time. He never wished for any ill fortune to come your way, he just relished playing better than you. It was this warrior-like attitude that enabled him to fight this insidious cancer as long as he did while continuing to maintain a positive outlook on life.”
Frank Pieper, a multiple winner of the MPCC club championship, shared those sentiments.
“Mike was an elegant golfer with a silky short game only matched by his personality” said Pieper. “I will always treasure Mike's friendship and will dearly miss the inspiration he bestowed on everyone he met. We have lost a hero! Mike's favorite advice: ‘Don't sweat the small stuff!’”
Mike couldn't play golf for the last two years of his life. His brother George (who, with his family cared for him during those final years) eloquently stated at his service:
"Mike passed away at 3:40am on April 30. After removing the straps and tubes that burdened him, I said 'you are untethered now' - and after being greeted in Heaven I know he was in time for a 3:48 tee time"
Rest In Peace Mike.
Michael Donovan's Obituary