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JOHN THOMAS DONLEY Obituary

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JOHN THOMAS DONLEY

Westlake, Ohio

April 4, 1946 - June 2, 2024

JOHN THOMAS DONLEY Obituary

John Thomas Donley, affectionately known as “Papa John” to his loved ones, passed away

suddenly on June 2, 2024, at the age of 78, leaving behind a legacy of love, laughter, and

entrepreneurial spirit.


A man of simple pleasures, John was the heart of every gathering. His infectious humor and

captivating storytelling filled every room he walked in with smiles and laughter. Whether it be a

4th of July Gala to rival the likes of Las Vegas or an improvised holiday ritual replete with his

special touches, John took great joy in delivering one-of-a-kind memories to all those around

him. An avid cook, his culinary creations were the centerpiece of many joyful celebrations,

adding warmth and charm to every event. In his later years, his greatest joy was gathering

family and friends to "talk story" (and politics!). Despite being hard of hearing, John never found

himself in a position where he couldn't tell his new favorite joke or weave a tale of his or his

comrades' little-known exploits. He was indeed a master marketer, whether commercially or

personally. Our world will be a much less warm, funny or interesting place in his absence.


Born on April 4, 1946, in Ashland, OH, John was the son of the late Lois (Comer) Donley and

James E. Donley. He graduated from Ashland High School in 1964 and studied at Duke University

before transferring to Ashland College, where he earned a degree in economics in 1968. He

went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from Miami University in 1969.


John’s career began as an investment officer with Huntington Trust in Columbus, OH, before he

joined Merrill Lynch as the youngest institutional salesman in their system. In 1975, he returned

to Ashland to lead the family business as Owner and President of Donley Seed Company, Inc.

Following the sale of Donley Seed, John pursued a career as a government securities arbitrage

and business broker, which eventually led him to found Presidential Golf Inc. (later PGI Inc.), a

golf ball manufacturer in Loudonville, OH. He also served as trustee emeritus for Ashland

University, a recognition for his efforts in restructuring the university’s financial plan in the early

1980s.


His greatest professional pride came from the founding of Angus Mackay Clubmakers in 1993, a

testament to his entrepreneurial spirit and dedication. For 25 years, he lovingly nurtured this

venture from his lakeside cottage in Perrysville, OH, crafting handmade hickory shaft putters

and embracing his whimsical persona as a Scottish proprietor despite his unmistakable Irish

roots.


In addition to his parents, John was preceded in death by his sisters, Nancy Donley and Susan

(Donley) Craig. He is survived by his beloved wife, Catherine McKeegan Donley of Avon Lake,

OH; his daughter, Sara Bishop (Anthony) of Fayetteville, AR; his son, James Kevin Donley (Bess)

of Mendocino, CA; his step-sons, Justin Rzepka (Amy) and Jordan Rzepka (Ashley), both of

Arlington, VA; and his ten cherished grandchildren, Sam, Kate, John, Peter, Leo, Tasman, Grace,

Anne, Garrett, and Sloane.


John will be deeply missed and forever loved.


In lieu of flowers or other expressions of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to The

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) at www.aspca.org.


A CELEBRATION OF LIFE WILL BE HELD IN THE FUTURE

To share a memory or send a condolence gift, please visit the Official Obituary of JOHN THOMAS DONLEY hosted by McGorray-Hanna Funeral Home.

John Thomas Donley, affectionately known as “Papa John” to his loved ones, passed away

suddenly on June 2, 2024, at the age of 78, leaving behind a legacy of love, laughter, and

entrepreneurial spirit.


A man of simple pleasures, John was the heart of every gathering. His infectious humor and

captivating storytelling filled every room he walked in with smiles and laughter. Whether it be a

4th of July Gala to rival the likes of Las Vegas or an improvised holiday ritual replete with his

special touches, John took great joy in delivering one-of-a-kind memories to all those around

him. An avid cook, his culinary creations were the centerpiece of many joyful celebrations,

adding warmth and charm to every event. In his later years, his greatest joy was gathering

family and friends to "talk story" (and politics!). Despite being hard of hearing, John never found

himself in a position where he couldn't tell his new favorite joke or weave a tale of his or his

comrades' little-known exploits. He was indeed a master marketer, whether commercially or

personally. Our world will be a much less warm, funny or interesting place in his absence.


Born on April 4, 1946, in Ashland, OH, John was the son of the late Lois (Comer) Donley and

James E. Donley. He graduated from Ashland High School in 1964 and studied at Duke University

before transferring to Ashland College, where he earned a degree in economics in 1968. He

went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from Miami University in 1969.


John’s career began as an investment officer with Huntington Trust in Columbus, OH, before he

joined Merrill Lynch as the youngest institutional salesman in their system. In 1975, he returned

to Ashland to lead the family business as Owner and President of Donley Seed Company, Inc.

Following the sale of Donley Seed, John pursued a career as a government securities arbitrage

and business broker, which eventually led him to found Presidential Golf Inc. (later PGI Inc.), a

golf ball manufacturer in Loudonville, OH. He also served as trustee emeritus for Ashland

University, a recognition for his efforts in restructuring the university’s financial plan in the early

1980s.


His greatest professional pride came from the founding of Angus Mackay Clubmakers in 1993, a

testament to his entrepreneurial spirit and dedication. For 25 years, he lovingly nurtured this

venture from his lakeside cottage in Perrysville, OH, crafting handmade hickory shaft putters

and embracing his whimsical persona as a Scottish proprietor despite his unmistakable Irish

roots.


In addition to his parents, John was preceded in death by his sisters, Nancy Donley and Susan

(Donley) Craig. He is survived by his beloved wife, Catherine McKeegan Donley of Avon Lake,

OH; his daughter, Sara Bishop (Anthony) of Fayetteville, AR; his son, James Kevin Donley (Bess)

of Mendocino, CA; his step-sons, Justin Rzepka (Amy) and Jordan Rzepka (Ashley), both of

Arlington, VA; and his ten cherished grandchildren, Sam, Kate, John, Peter, Leo, Tasman, Grace,

Anne, Garrett, and Sloane.


John will be deeply missed and forever loved.


In lieu of flowers or other expressions of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to The

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) at www.aspca.org.


A CELEBRATION OF LIFE WILL BE HELD IN THE FUTURE

To share a memory or send a condolence gift, please visit the Official Obituary of JOHN THOMAS DONLEY hosted by McGorray-Hanna Funeral Home.

Events

Event information can be found on the Official Obituary of JOHN THOMAS DONLEY.