Charles L. Donovan, a Loyola Blakefield science teacher who led the speech and debate team to a national championship, died of cancer Sept. 11 at the Portland, Maine, home of Ingrid Reaves, a close friend. The Cockeysville resident was 44.
“He was an extraordinarily gentle person who had a great way of connecting with students and presenting information, and had a good sense of how to pace a class and how to guide students,” said a fellow science teacher, Ryan C. Bromwell, who has worked with Mr. Donovan since 2002.
“He always had a smile on his face even when talking to a student about how he had to change his ways,” Mr. Bromwell said. “He was kind but firm. He wanted to guide them. It was a blend of care and firmness.”
Charles Lamonte Donovan who was the son of Robert Donovan, an accountant, and his wife, Marilyn Lamonte Donovan, a registered nurse, was born in New York Hospital, now New York Presbyterian Hospital, in New York City and raised in Bronxville, New York.
He attended the Chapel School, Immaculate Conception School and graduated in 1994 from Regis High School, a private Jesuit secondary school, in Manhattan where he received the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Math and Science Medal.
“We were in high school together and also Boy Scouts and summer camp at Camp O-AT-KA in Maine,” said Frank A. Martignetti, who is a professor at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he also lives. “He was smart as hell in high school and everyone said he was the smartest guy in our class. He was just so mellow, very, very kind and a top-notch person who never said a bad thing about anyone.”
Professor Martignetti added: “He always gave advice but was a very private person. He had a wonderful understated sense of humor, and one time after I gave a rant about the Olive Garden Restaurant, he sent me an Olive Garden gift card for Christmas.”
Mr. Donovan earned a bachelor’s degree in 1998 in biological sciences from Stanford University and obtained a master’s degree in business administration from Loyola University Maryland.
Before coming to Loyola Blakefield in 2005, he taught for five years at the Loyola School in Manhattan, and in addition to teaching, he had been summer director for two decades at Camp O-AT-KA in Sebago, Maine.
“I think Camp O-AT-KA was his spiritual home,” Professor Martignetti said. “He loved thinking and he loved teaching about nature, and he could communicate that clearly to campers to be advocates for nature.”
Mr. Bromwell said that when he was department science department chair, Mr. Donovan was always willing to teach an extra class.
In addition to his daily teaching load, he was director of Loyola Blakefield’s forensic program.
“He was a coach, therapist, travel agent and helped prepare the debate team for tournaments. He taught them life lessons,” Mr. Bromwell said. “He took the team as far north as Harvard and as far south to Wake Forest University and to the Midwest. Often at night he’d be in his office until 9:30 making preparations.”
“He was so good at speech and debating,” Professor Martignetti said.
His debate team won multiple district and state championships, and a national title in 2010.
He was held in high regard by his peers and students. He was also one of the first to be selected by his colleagues for Loyola’s Marcus Ryu ‘91 Employee Recognition Award in 2015, which is the highest form of recognition given to a faculty or staff member.
“He was revered by the students,” Mr. Bromwell said.
A Mass of Christian Burial was offered for Mr. Donovan on Sept. 25 at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Tuckahoe, New York.
Professor Martignetti said he was held in such regard that two Loyola students got up at 3 a.m. to travel to Tuckahoe for his Mass.
“Two boys who were dressed in suits came by bus to New York and then took a train,” Professor Martignetti said. “I saw them walking up the hill to the church.”
His mother, Marilyn Lamonte Donovan of Bronxville, is his only survivor.