The news yesterday of Don Donovan’s passing was very affecting for me and my wife Diane.
Don and I worked together at Carlton Carruthers du Chateau in Wellington in the later 1960s and we kept in touch because of a mutual love of books and writing.
Last year I asked Don for some reminiscences about life in advertising agencies when he started in the business for an essay I was writing for Peter Alsop’s Promoting Prosperity and with his reply we renewed what had been a desultory correspondence over the years.
Early this year I emailed Don and Pat to see if they’d be at home when Diane and I were going to be in Auckland in early May. “Will you be around?” I wrote, thinking he might be on a painting expedition somewhere. The quick response said he might not be around at all, having just been diagnosed with incurable cancer.
As it turned out, he was still around when we visited them on their beautiful Albany property on 10 May. The Lockwood’s wooden walls hidden behind books and Don’s evocative watercolours, we spent a cheerful half an hour with him propped up in bed, his music
earphones at the ready. We talked about advertising, the intervening years, and he wanted to know about our writing and publishing projects. There was a firm handshake for me, a kiss for Diane and before putting on the earphones again he said, with a half smile and not an ounce of self-pity, “I hope I don’t wake up tomorrow”. His wish has been granted but, as I said to him as we left, “a great many people will be very sad indeed when that happens”.
We enjoyed a longer chat over coffee with Pat and daughter Philippa during our visit and now send our heartfelt sympathy to them and all their family.
Ian F Grant
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