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Dorothy Donovan, wife of famed Colt Art Donovan, dies

Dorothy Donovan, a country club owner and retired pharmacist who was the wife of Baltimore Colts tackle Art Donovan, died of a respiratory ailment Thursday at the University of Maryland St. Joseph's Medical Center.

The Riderwood resident was 85.

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Born in Baltimore and known as Dottie, she was raised on Pinewood Avenue in the northeast section of the city. She was the daughter of Christian "Bud" Schaech, a police officer and his wife, Evelyn, who owned Evelyn's diner on Pulaski Highway.

A 1951 graduate of Towson Catholic High, she earned a degree at the University of Maryland's School of Pharmacy.

As a pharmacy student she worked for the Read's drug stores. In 1956 she opened her own business, Schaech's Pharmacy, at Harford Road and Bonaparte Avenue.

She met her future husband, Art Donovan, when he came to call for her roommate on a blind date for a yacht club dance. He asked if Dorothy wanted to accompany them.

"After that, the roommate was toast," said her daughter, Kelly Donovan-Mazzulli. "They were always together."

In a 1959 article in The Sun, she said of their first meeting: "I didn't know who he was and he didn't believe I was a pharmacist and owned a drug store. He came around to the store the next morning to make sure I was telling the truth — and asking for a date after finding out that I did own a drug store."

She told him she was not available immediately for a date because she played piano in an all-girl orchestra, the Queens of Rhythm, and had a engagement.

"I [also] discovered that Art, in his own right, was something of a hero," she said.

Her parents had a financial interest in Riderwood's Valley Country Club. In 1958, she and Art Donovan and her father bought the club from the other stockholders. She became the club's general manager and held the post until 2005. She remained the club's president.

The 1959 Sun article described Mrs. Donovan as a "dynamo" who worked six days a week at the country club, where she was the "major domo." She said she found the work more interesting that running a drug store.

"I could never stay at home and just be a housewife," she said.

As she became increasingly active in the club, she enrolled in the Cornell University School of Hotel Management and obtained a master's degree in club management.

"I took every hospitality course that I could find," she said in an interview in a hospitality trade publication. "Whenever there was another level of education, I wanted to achieve it."

Her daughters said she helped plan thousands of weddings.

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"Dottie was an incredible person and has left an indelible mark on those she served," said Mitchell Platt, manager of the Cosmos Club in Washington. "She joined the Club Managers Association of America in 1961 .. and has become a CMAA matriarch."

She was a past president of the Greater Baltimore Club Managers Association.

"Not only did she lead the Greater Baltimore chapter as its president but she served as a national director, the first female to do so," said Mr. Platt. "She would break another glass ceiling, becoming the first female Master Club Manager.

"She was simply a giant in our industry, inspiring countless club managers," he added. "In most places where she would travel, she would be known as Artie Donovan's wife. In our world of hospitality, it was the opposite."

Her daughters said Mrs. Donovan took many overseas educational trips that she thoroughly researched before she left Baltimore. She consulted the Fodor and Berlitz travel publications and worked with travel agents on her worldwide tours.

"She was fearless. There was a time she drove us through 13 countries in nine days," said her daughter, Kelly. "There was nothing she was afraid of."

She also arranged bus trips of her club's members to China and Germany and other international spots, her daughter said. "My mother was the leader and the point person."

Mrs. Dovovan retained her pharmacy license and took refresher courses in the profession. Later in life she returned to work at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

She, her husband and family also owned a home in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where they spent portions of the winters. She read several books a week.

She was a founder of the Free State Swim League in 1961.

A funeral Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles Street, where she was a member.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include a son, Arthur J. Donovan III of New York City; three other daughters, Debbie Donovan Smith of Towson, Christine Donovan of McLean, Va. and Mary Donovan O'Hern of Lutherville; and seven grandchildren. Mrs. Donovan also cared for a sister, Jean Schaech, who died 2005. Art Donovan died at age 89 in 2013.

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