Edward F. Donohue served as a programmer in the Air Force and as a manager for tech companies before turning to faith-based service.

Obituary: Edward F. Donohue, 67, helped found Placer County shelter program

Published: Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4B
Last Modified: Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 - 8:48 am

Edward F. Donohue, a computer industry manager and lay minister who was instrumental in founding a faith-based homeless shelter program in Placer County, died July 24 of pneumonia, his family said. He was 67.

Mr. Donohue had worked with computers since he was a programmer in the Air Force in the 1960s. He spent most of his career as a manager for high-tech companies in Silicon Valley and worked the last 16 years in Placer County for Oracle Corp.

Inspired by the "Jesus movement" in the 1970s, he was an active Christian who volunteered in many ministries and served as lay leader at Valley Springs Presbyterian Church in Roseville. He enrolled in a remote education program and earned a master's degree from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis in 2010.

"He was pursuing ordination," said his son Patrick. "He was thinking about a second career."

Mr. Donohue devoted himself to helping others in the community. A thoughtful man with a warm, engaging personality, he visited sick people in the hospital, mentored young people at church and counseled lay pastors.

Alarmed about growing homelessness in booming south Placer County, he traveled with the Rev. David George of Valley Springs to Solano County to learn about a shelter program sponsored by churches that took turns providing beds for homeless people. They recruited and worked with other Placer County churches to open the Gathering Inn, a nomadic homeless shelter, in 2004.

Mr. Donohue served on the board of the Gathering Inn, which became an independent tax-exempt charity. He helped organize volunteers who provided food, clothing, beds, haircuts and other services for homeless people at Valley Springs.

"Ed really understood the Gospel and what it means to be a servant leader," George said. "He was passionate about things, but he didn't need the limelight. He was a very humble man who helped people embrace their calling."

Born on Oct. 30, 1945, in Cambridge, Mass., Edward Francis Donohue moved with his family to the Bay Area and graduated from San Carlos High School in 1963. He served four years in the Air Force and worked at a data processing company in Ohio before returning to California.

He spent 35 years in computer management at major technology firms in Silicon Valley. He led a team of engineers who built one of the first modems at Motorola and later managed major projects for Oracle, his family said.

He earned a management degree from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont.

Mr. Donohue moved from the Bay Area to Placer County 15 years ago and lived in Roseville and Meadow Vista. He had four children with his wife of 41 years, Linda.

Besides his wife, he is survived by his children, Terri Decker of Citrus Heights, Patrick of Santa Rosa, Cathy Mathieson of Los Gatos and Kevin of San Jose; sisters Judy Flater and Nancy, both of Santa Rosa; brother Ben Heschen of Sebastopol; and seven grandchildren.

A memorial celebration was held Aug. 4. Memorial donations may be made to the pastoral education fund at Valley Springs Presbyterian Church, 2401 Olympus Drive, Roseville, CA 95661.

Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @bob_davila.

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