"He loved his children and grandchildren and our mother more than life itself, and he would never have been able to bear seeing family members go before him."

Besides his wife, Donovan is survived by a sister, Joan Elizabeth Donovan of New York City; a son, Arthur J. Donovan III of New York City; daughters Debbie Donovan Smith of Towson; Christine Donovan of McLean, Va.; Mary Donovan O'Hern of Lutherville; and Donovan-Mazzulli of Lutherville; and seven grandchildren.

A funeral Mass for Donovan is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore. There will be no viewing and interment is private.

For one who reminisced at will, Donovan never second-guessed his own life.

"Take me for what I am," he told The Sun. "I'm a nobody, like you or anyone else. I was lucky enough to play pro football, and everyone liked me. That's it."

One more thing, Donovan said. He wanted to go the way he had lived:

"If my wife don't send me off with a case of Schlitz in the coffin, I'm gonna haunt her."

mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

Donovan at a glance

Born: June 5, 1924, in the Bronx, N.Y.

Colleges: Notre Dame and Boston College

Drafted: By Colts, third round of special selection draft in 1950

Family: Married 57 years to the former Dorothy Schaech ... Five children (Debbie, Christine, Arthur III, Mary and Kelly)

Career highlights: Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame (1968) ... U.S. Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame (2004) ... NFL champion (1958 and 1959) ... NFL All-Pro first team (1954-1957) ... Pro Bowl (1953-1957)

Personal highlights: Author of "Fatso" (his autobiography) ... co-host of several Baltimore radio and television sports talk shows ... longtime guest on network talk shows ("Late Night with David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno") ... pitchman for Maryland State Lottery and ESPN