James K. Donahue

James Keefe Donahue, former president and CEO of Industrial Shows of America Inc. who also was producer of the International Auto Show and Chesapeake Bay Boat Show, died June 23 of heart failure at Good Samaritan Hospital.

The Lutherville resident was 88.


Mr. Donahue was born and raised in Arlington, Mass., and was a 1942 graduate of Belmont High School.

He enlisted in the Army in 1943 and served with an infantry unit in Europe, receiving a battlefield commission. At the Battle of the Bulge, he established a roadblock that held off the advance of a German unit.

He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star and was discharged with the rank of lieutenant in 1946.

Mr. Donahue was working as a professional minor league baseball umpire when he was recalled to active duty in 1951 during the Korean War.

While serving with Company F, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, Mr. Donahue led an attack on enemy bunkers, "firing his weapon with deadly accuracy inflicting numerous casualties on the foe. Inspired by bravery under fire, his men rose as one and resumed their attack until the objective was secure," read the Silver Star citation that was presented for "gallantry in action."

Discharged in 1952, he returned to Boston, where he was a salesman for the Thomas Edison Dictaphone Co., and then established a public relations firm in 1956.

While working for Dictaphone, Mr. Donahue met his future wife, the former Jean Morrison, when he tried to sell her boss a Dictaphone. While he didn't make the sale, he won the woman, whom he married in 1953.

In conjunction with the Boston Herald newspaper, he produced numerous trade shows in the Boston area. In 1974, he moved to Baltimore when he established Industrial Shows of America Inc., the International Auto Show and 25 other industrial and machine tool shows throughout the U.S. and Mexico.

At the time he sold the business to Penton Media and retired, his company was the largest privately owned trade show company in the nation, said his daughter, Susan Donahue Cross of Lutherville.

He enjoyed playing golf and vacationing at a second home on Cape Cod. He was a member of the Eastward Ho Club.

Mr. Donahue was a communicant of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Mount Washington.

There are no services. Interment will be later this summer at Arlington National Cemetery.

In addition to his wife and daughter, surviving are another daughter, Janice Donahue of Lutherville; and two grandchildren.