Sometimes it takes a special person in our lives to realize what matters most. For those who knew and loved Chris Donahue, he was that gentle soul that truly made such a difference. With his loving and kind nature, Chris could easily strike up a conversation, and he loved to mingle. Despite his special needs, Chris was a social fellow who accepted others just as they were, even though there were undoubtedly times when he did not receive the same. Even so, Chris made a difference just by simply being the remarkable man that he was. Deeply missed, his memory will continue to be treasure.
Although conservative in nature, the decade of the 1950s sculpted the culture of America. The United States was the world’s strongest military power, and the economy was booming. The fruits of this booming prosperity included new cars, suburban houses and various other consumer goods which became available to more people than ever before. With many employment opportunities, a sense of stability, security and contentment among the American people was at an all time high. For Donald and Marguerite Donahue, the prospects for a bright future were never greater than when they welcomed the birth of their son, Daniel Christopher “Chris” Donahue into their arms on May 27, 1950.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin along the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan, Chris’ parents supported their large family operating a bicycle shop on the east side of the city where they sold and repaired bicycles. His mother was also a busy homemaker who remained at home taking care of Chris and his siblings. In addition to the bicycle business, his father was a high pressure fireman engineer. The fourth of eventually eight children in the Donahue household, Chris joined his three brothers, William “Bill”, Donald Patrick “Pat”, and John Michael “Mike”. He later welcomed four younger sisters, Susan, Karen, Marge, and Janet into their bustling household.
Although Chris was a great blessing in the lives of his family, he was born as what was termed at the time as mildly retarded. Even with his special needs, Chris attended Maryland Avenue Elementary School, and later went on to attend a special needs school in the area. Chris’ mother was one of his greatest supporters. She believed in Chris, and knew his tremendous capabilities, if given opportunity. She spent a great deal of time and was instrumental in getting him involved in activities. He went to dances, and was involved at “Willow Way” doing arts and crafts as well. He went on camping trips and also participated in Boy Scouts. Chris competed in Special Olympics as a runner, and won a number of ribbons and gold medals. Deeply loved, his entire family was always there for him encouraging and supporting him in all his endeavors.
Until he was in his twenties, Chris remained living at home with his parents. He then transitioned to group home settings in Cudahy and West Allis where life among others became a normality for Chris. He had a daily routine, a schedule, a job, and responsibilities he tended to.
Chris began working at Goodwill Industries and the Curative Workshop before later taking a position at Taco Bell. He cleaned tables, and absolutely loved his work, never wanting to miss a day. With his social and outgoing demeanor, it was a perfect fit for Chris. He loved to talk, and always asked those around him, “How are you?” He liked making contact with people, and became very good at shaking hands. Chris had several other favorite sayings including, “How you doin”, “What did you bring me?”, “What are we having for supper?”, and “Did you bring me my popcorn?” When it came to eating, Chris never missed a meal. He loved food, especially Friday fish fries during Lent. He enjoyed his snacks, particularly popcorn and orange soda, which was his favorite. If there was orange soda in the house, it belonged to Chris!
There was so much to love about Chris. He possessed the gentlest heart, and was soft spoken which endeared him to many. He was a loving soul who never hurt anyone. Chris believed in Santa with his whole heart, and his favorite colors included blue and red. He never asked for much, yet being a friend, sharing the company of those around him meant everything to him. Above all, Chris loved his family, and they in turn loved him dearly. They were very protective of him, and they each learned from Chris’ gentle, loving attitude.
After Chris took a fall at Taco Bell in 2007 and broke his hip, his legs were never quite the same. He experienced much pain in his legs, and he fell often, but never complained. Although he was thought to be on the mend, Chris died very unexpectedly on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at the age of 64.
A special man who held a special place in the hearts of many, Daniel C. “Chris” Donahue leaves much to be remembered. His gentle nature and kind-hearted ways was a gift to those who were blessed to have known and loved him.
Chris was preceded in death by his parents Donald and Marguerite Donahue; siblings, William Donahue, Donald Patrick Donahue, and Marguerite Marge Donahue. He was the loving brother of John Mike Donahue, Susan (Fred) Withrow, Karen Milligan, Janet Arnold, and brother-in-law of Laura Donahue. He is further survived by many nephews, nieces, other relatives, friends, and his many caretakers over the years.
Visitation with Chris’ family will be held from 5-7 PM on Tuesday, February 24, 2014 at the Suminski Family Life Story Funeral Homes – Suminski/Weiss location, 1901 N. Farwell Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202, (414) 276-5122 and on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at Three Holy Women Parish – Holy Rosary Church, 2011 N. Oakland Avenue from 9:30 AM until time of his funeral Mass at 10:30 AM. Entombment at Holy Cross Cemetery. To share a favorite memory or photo of Chris and to sign his online guest book, please visit www.suminskifuneralhome.com.