John T. Doonan, age 79, of Glenwood, passed away on Monday, August 24th, 2020 at Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, NY.
He was born in Brooklyn to the late James and Mary (Reynolds) Doonan. After graduating St. Theresa Avila High School, he became an ironworker and a member of Ironworkers Local 40 in NYC. In 1964, he was drafted and served in the US Army as part of the 709th Military Police Battalion, stationed in Mainz, West Germany. During that time, he met the love of his life, Rita. They were married in Bern, Switzerland in April of 1965. Later that year, he was honorably discharged and returned to Brooklyn with his bride and their newborn daughter, Carmen. After adding three sons to their family, Martin, John Paul and Mark, John built the family home in Vernon with the help of his father, Jim, his brother in law, John Joe and other family. After the home was finished, John and Rita moved their family to Vernon in 1975 and soon after welcomed two more sons, Matthew and JJ.
John was very active with Ironworker’s Local 40. During his 40 plus years in the trade, he made many lifelong friends among his fellow union brothers. He was a consummate professional dedicated to the trade, and served as an example and inspiration to many other ironworkers through his many years of service as an apprentice instructor, teaching them the trade at night. He was also an instructor in the Ironworkers International Instructor Training Program for many years, teaching other apprentice instructors from all over the country each July on the campus of the University San Diego. He was a delegate to the NYS District Counsel of Ironworkers and a member of the Local 40 Ironworkers Examining Board. Upon his retirement, he was a Vice President of Local 40.
John was a parishioner of St. Francis de Sales RC Church, was active in the Church and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was a man of devoted and steadfast faith, which was the foundation for his character and his relationships. John contributed his gifts to the construction of the St. Francis de Sales RC Church in Vernon, which was finished in 1985. He served on the building Steering Committee, and asked his Local 40 union brothers to volunteer labor to raise the steel of the new church at no cost, including two of his sons, Martin and John Paul.
John was proud of his Irish heritage, and passed those traditions onto his children. He looked forward to planning frequent summer trips to Ireland in later years accompanied by Rita, and often some of his children and grandchildren as well. He was always willing with a smile and a story, or a hearty laugh, while enjoying a good cup of tea, and occasionally, an Irish whiskey, offering a toast of “Sláinte”.
John was a family man in every sense of the word. He was a devoted son, brother, uncle, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He treasured his faith and his family equally, and nothing gave him more pleasure than spending time with his friends and family, especially his children, grandchildren and his great granddaughter. To know John was to know a man of rare and exceptional faith, patience, character, generosity and kindness. He always looked for the best in every person and in every situation. His positive spirit and joyful nature enriched the lives of his entire family, his many friends, and all those he met. His grandchildren especially looked forward to fresh batches of “Grandpa’s cookies”. He will be dearly missed.
John was predeceased by his brothers, James “Red” and Frank Doonan, and his oldest son, Martin. He is survived by his wife, Rita (Curley) Doonan; his daughter, Carmen Wager, of Vernon; his son, John Paul, and his wife, Liza, of Fair Haven; his son, Mark Doonan, of Yonkers, NY; his son, Matthew Doonan, and his wife, Diane, of Mullica Hill, his youngest son, James “JJ” Doonan, of Vernon, his grandchildren, Dylan, Stephanie, Nora, Patrick, Kevin, Matthew and Bridget, his great granddaughter, Savannah, as well as his sisters, Maureen Higgins, Kitty Coyle, and Betty Parsons.
Visitation will be held on Friday, August 28th, 2020 from 3-7PM at the Ferguson—Vernon Funeral Home, 241 Route 94, (One Vanderhoof Court for GPS), Vernon, NJ 07462. Due to social distancing, only 75 people, with masks, are allowed in the building at one time. A Funeral Mass will be on Saturday, August 29th, 10AM at St. Francis de Sales RC Church in Vernon. Burial in the Glenwood Cemetery will follow. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Arthritis Foundation (arthritis.org). Online condolences may be offered at www.fergusonfuneralhomesnj.com People who are uncomfortable or unable to attend the funeral are encouraged to attend Mass at their local parish in John’s memory.