Thursday, July 26, 2012
Frank Donovan died last week; he was 95. That's Frank in the 1960s sitting on a bench with Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker movement. For generations of us who flowed through that strange and wonderful maelstrom, Frank was a welcoming presence, a sane man and a humble man practicing the works of mercy with devotion.
When I passed through at the beginning of the 1970s, Frank still had a "real world" job as an executive at UPS. I remember that he joined the community at St. Joseph's House on First Street for dinner each night before returning to his apartment in mid-town. Frank's UPS connection came with a perk at Christmas: he was able to shower this community of the poor and homeless with undeliverable packages containing unobtainable goodies that we passed around as gifts.
Soon Frank retired and became the community's stalwart office manager.
He was simply good -- an exemplar for me of what a radical attempt to live out the injunctions of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount might look like in contemporary New York.
You can find several Quicktime video clips of Frank talking animatedly here.
The picture -- only one I could find on the internet and one in which this beautiful man is quite characteristically turned toward someone else -- is from a collection of images of Marge Hughes, another prominent Catholic Worker of that era.