Erin Elizabeth Donovan
Erin Elizabeth Donovan experienced a massive and catastrophic brain aneurysm event on Monday afternoon, August 10th, at her home in Talent, OR, at the age of 50. She was with her close and intimate friend, Larry Coble. She was declared deceased in Ashland, OR, on August 13th, 2015 at 4:32 pm (Pacific Coast Time) shortly after her family requested the cessation of life support. Erin was born in Boston on February 6th, 1965. She spent her early years in Manchester-by-the-sea and Brookline, MA. She graduated from Brookline High School’s SWS (School Within a School) alternative program in 1983. She obtained her BA with a major in Communication from Emerson College in 1988 and was awarded an MFA from Columbia University Graduate School of the Arts Writing Division in 1995. One highlight of her undergraduate experience was the Semester at Sea program, essentially college classes on-board a world cruise. One gap-year in her college career was spent immersed in the culture of Spain on Majorca. Besides becoming fluent in Spanish, she brought home a fine young Majorcan gentleman named Joan Ginard. A graduate school roommate at Columbia, Derek Scheips, and Batia Zumwalt, a childhood friend from Brookline, MA, were her closest soul-friends or anam cara.
Her major vocation was adjunct professor, with a minor in waitressing. She started teaching ESL classes shortly after Columbia, including at Literacy Partners in NYC, where she made her home for many years with frequent trips to New England for visits with dear friends, skiing, and mountain biking. She taught English, Composition, and Literature at The City College of New York’s (CUNY) Medgar Evers College and LaGuardia Community College campuses, and at Plaza College, during her NYC years. There are hundreds of students from Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn who benefited from her ability to excite and engage a classroom with enthusiasm, humor, and insight into, not just ideas, but human nature. In 2008, her craving for fresh air and the outdoors, the Sirens’ songs of mom and sis, and tastes of whitewater rafting, Oregon-grown white wines, and Cascadian Mountain skiing, on increasingly longer visits out west, caused her to join the great northwestern migration of most of the clan in her epic cross country drive with her dear friend since nursery school, Tracy Hatch. Some wit quipped at her going away party in New York City that HER move across the continental divide was of such magnitude, that a new divide line would have to be geo-plotted further to the west. Here she found a home that truly suited her outgoing spirit. In spite of mom’s recent desire to leave the summer heat of the beautiful Rogue Valley and the Cascadian Subduction Zone for the milder weather and milder tectonics of the San Andreas Fault and Davis, CA, and in spite of the gravitational pull of the many old friendships back east, Erin was happy and content in the spiritual/cultural/historical/magical vortex that is the Rogue Valley and Ashland/Talent, with her whitewater raft guide and snow-anything instructor sister, Arden. In Oregon, Erin first taught ESL at Rogue Community College; however, her over-qualifications led her back to waitressing and she was most recently employed at New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro.
It is simply amazing the number of people Erin impacted in a profound and positive way in her short life. She was engaging, smart, funny, witty, and had such positive energy and enthusiasm. She was a light and bright and shiny being with love that radiated outwards with her infectious smile, but she could be tough as nails if the occasion warranted it – such a grand personality with a full spectrum of emotions and palette of possibility. She was a master storyteller, and it is Literature’s loss that she did not live longer; she certainly should be published. Erin’s only ”published” work is her MFA thesis, a short fiction titled Dead Skin – in the rare book collection at Columbia. Among other unpublished stories is The Mausoleum. Erin had a story in process at the time of her death, with a working title of Fried Eggs, about early menopause, a personal experience. Her final and unselfish act of conscience for humanity’s sake was the donation of her organs. Erin was predeceased by her father, Joseph J. Donovan. She is survived by her mother, Elise A. Lockhart, of Ashland, OR, her sister Arden M. Prehn and her husband Roger, also of Talent, OR, and their two son’s, her nephews, Tyler and Gresham, of Portland, OR, two brothers, Shawn L. Donovan and his wife Ann, of Fairfield, CT, and their two daughters, Emily, of Chicago, IL, and Fiona, currently at the University of Louisville, and Daren M. Donovan, of Gloucester, MA. Also, a former stepmother, Ann T. Richardson Hodge, and ex-steps (although the family motto is “there ain’t no such thing as ex-anything”), Kim Sarkin, Leonard Richardson, Todd Richardson, and Tony Millionaire (aka Scott Richardson), and their spouses and children, and many, many dear and close friends. And almost everyone else in the world she ever met, as love, for Erin, was instant, universal, and eternal. In lieu of flowers or other charitable contributions, donations by check may be made until February 6th, 2016 to Erin Donovan’s Living Legacy sent to Rogue Credit Union, P. O. Box, 4550, Medford, OR 97501. The clan intends to fund a scholarship at a writing workshop in her name.